Wrapping up my last print edition for Talon Marks

Terrel Emerson

Dear Talon Marks,

I write this as I am finishing up my final production night as a member of Talon Marks the newspaper.

This is one of the most bittersweet columns I have ever written and probably will rank as the highest by the time I am done with it.

As a young African-American male in today’s society, our future is usually written before we even get the chance to have a say so in it.

Often times people color are either incarcerated or dead by this age. I have lost many, many friends to senseless killings.

All for what?

The type of neighborhoods that surround us almost leaves us no choice but to follow in the steps of those before us. And the path will eventually lead us to an early demise.

The only way around the stigma that is the “hood” is to do something above and beyond in order to remove yourself from your present situation.

Many people find their way out through sports or music. But what happens to those who either can’t or choose to do neither.

Are they doomed to fall victim to the system?

The answer is no. And Talon Marks will be a huge reason why I won’t.

First Semester

I credit then editor-in-chief Denny Cristales for getting me so involved with the newspaper.

He gave me my first shot and once he read my first story, he told me he knew I could be something special.

The next semester, I chose to join the staff and I received basketball as my permanent beat.

However, I was juggling work and school and could only make it to certain games.

Aside from covering the bare necessities for what I needed for my sport, I sat in the newsroom refusing to venture out of my frequent conversations with the sports editor.

As the semester was drawing to a close, our adviser Rich Cameron approached me and asked me if I knew I wasn’t passing the class because I didn’t have enough stories.

In shock, for the last two weeks of the semester I was forced to scramble and do national sports stories to barely preserve a passing grade.

That Media Awards Night, I did not hear my name called at all and from that point on I vowed to never let it happen again.

Second Semester

Due to my hectic work schedule, then editor-in-chief Sebastian Echeverry threw me into the fire by assigning me the title of Sports Copy Editor, without asking mind you.

And to this day, I couldn’t thank Echeverry enough. Without him trusting me to hold that position and do the best work I could It made it more worth it.

By not asking me, he forced me into a position where I had to do something I pride myself against doing: walk away from a challenge.

I took the challenge head on and was very pleased with the work I put into the semester.

More importantly, I was awarded multiple times at Media Awards Night.

Third Semester

Because of the trust put into me the previous semester, I chose to take on the Sports Editor job.

The best advice I got came from the person who held the title the semester before, Cristian Gonzales.

He told me on the eve of the new semester starting that he trusted that I would do a great job with my new position and, “Don’t go in trying to be the best Sports Editor.”

That was sound advice because I wasn’t really sure what was lying ahead.

This semester is when I felt I grew the most. I learned to deal with different personalities and work styles.

Furthermore, I had to work without much help so I ended up completing a record 102 stories that semester.

Also, here is where I found the true definition of friends or squad should I say.

I truly believe the friendships that were made this semester will stand the test of time.

At Media Awards Night we all were recognized for our hard work that semester.

Fourth Semester

Not wanting to come down off the emotional high that the last semester had us on, we came into this semester optimistic.

How fitting that this semester is where I probably learned the most.

I moved up to Online Editor and I truly had to deal with constant adversity however, I held my head up, stuck my chest out and dealt with it.

I was blessed with the opportunity to work for Dodgers Nation for a short period of time to put my skills to the test.

Now that this semester is over in less than two weeks. I can truly say I have felt every emotion possible in this newsroom.

Final Thoughts

As I look back on my time at Talon Marks, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Not any argument, not any mistake, nothing.

I am better person because of it and I now know what it takes to do this job.

I want to thank my squad Briana Hicks, Karla Enriquez, Ethan Ortiz, Briana Velarde, Gustavo Lopez, Bianca Salgado and Kristopher Carrasco.

I would like to thank Alicia Edquist and Rich Cameron for pushing all of us to become not only better journalists but better people.

Lastly, I would just like to thank Talon Marks for making me the person I am today.