Only my Mom was able to make it, however. Turns out the Department of Communications likes to schedule their fancy award dinner at the same time as my sister’s Pops Concert at Redondo Union High School, so Dad went with her to split our representation appropriately.
This year we swapped. Which means I got to bring the old man out to Fullerton:
Now… I hate to say it. But I think Dad got the better end of the bargain. Sorry Mom.
For my senior year, I stepped things up from just a few scholarships to winning all of these accolades:
The Journalism Program’s “Outstanding Student” Award
The J. William Maxwell Outstanding Communications Student Award (one of three Department-wide recognitions)
Recognition of my graduation with a University Honors distinction
Graduation with a Summa Cum Laude Honor (in other words, I kept my GPA above 3.90)
In other words — I not only received top marks for my concentration, but also for the department as a whole. While also graduating with Honors. And somehow keeping my grades very high.
What the hell did I do to myself these last four years?
Frankly, the only person who stepped on that stage more than I did was Harrison Faigen, who got a whole host of awards AND scholarships.
Showed me, I should have gone for some extra money.
Oh, and his awards were also well-deserved. That guy runs like a truck, and it has been an honor working with him in a number of capacities at Cal State Fullerton. The newspaper and SPJ, primarily. Definitely helped me learn a lot.
Speaking of learning a lot, the event was chock full of professors I’ve had over the last four years. And I tried to take a picture with a bunch of them for posterity!
Something, something insert another joke about adding ‘event planner’ to my résumé again.
Even though that’s not really a joke.
I’m 100 percent adding that onto my CV.
Since I last talked about the event, we’ve done a sizable amount of work putting it all together. After securing the Career Center representative that I talked about in the last post, we’ve also gotten a journalist, a visual arts teacher and the associate editor of a psychology journal confirmed to come to CSUF on March 20.
On top of that, we’re also going to have a representative of the Alumni Association come in to talk about opportunities that students can use after they graduate.
Which is something I should actually pay attention to at this point. Pretty scary.
We also have a plan in place for some food to have at the event and there’s possibly going to be a networking-theme game involved.
I’m not personally sure how that’s going to work out, but my partner has an idea in mind. So we’ll see.
The only thing that’s still mostly on the back burner right now is advertising the event. We already have a poster put together, but because Honors students are our only real audience so most of the messages are only going out to them through the program’s official channels.
As we’ve been meeting every Wednesday during the lead-up period, every week I’ve had a different task to accomplish.
For our meeting tomorrow, I was tasked with putting together name tags to place by each of the members of our panel. I decided to do a test name tag first, and I’ll bring that in to show everyone.
I wanted to talk about it here before I do.
In part because I had nothing else to write a blog post on today, and I’m really scrounging the bottom of the barrel trying (and failing) to write something every day while all of my school obligations kick my ass.
But also because the method I used to make these name tags are personal, in a way.
As my social media stinger said, don’t believe it when someone says you won’t use anything you learn in school.
For the most part, this weekend has been quiet. The best thing I had to talk about a few days ago was doing homework, and one of the most exciting things I did recently was put my binders together for the semester.
But tonight my Mom pointed out a meeting dedicated to learning all about the homeless situation in the South Bay. Much more interesting writing fodder in a traditionally journalistic manner.
My interest was piqued two-fold. I spent a good amount of time covering homelessness about a year-and-a-half ago for Bonnie’s Investigative Reporting class.
There were seven speakers on the panel who each gave spiels and answered a few audience at the end.
First came Jennifer Lamarque and Ivan Sulak from the office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn. Hahn was apparently slated to come earlier on but had to drop out, sending representatives instead.
Most of the discussion coming from Sulak, who is the supervisor for housing and homelessness in the 4th District. He was also apparently homeless himself.
He talked all about different initiatives being worked on across the District. The growth of a year-round shelter, more Emergency Response Team development and pushing more housing projects. A veteran-focused project in Downey, student-focused housing in Whittier and more.
“The end of homelessness is to get people in houses,” he said before delving more into the fact that homeless people on the streets are just a snapshot, as the issue has “many different faces.”
That snapshot came more into focus with the next speaker: Ashley Oh with the LA County Homeless Initiative: Measure H.
Because homeless counts for 2019 only occurred within the last week or so, the numbers we got tonight are technically outdated.
More to come from people like my friend Spencer over in Orange County.
At least 3,400 homeless people are sleeping on the streets of Orange County, according to unofficial numbers from the biennial Point in Time count, which finished late Thursday night after spanning two days. The number is likely to change.https://t.co/0R4QcaGi4I via @voiceofoc
That said, Oh pointed out that in 2018 there were more than 52,000 homeless individuals counted in LA County, with ~40,000 not sheltered. She said that was the first year in eight with an overall decrease.
One of the most interesting things about this event for me was seeing the break-down at a local level with some places I actually know a thing or two about.
I picked up a document from the South Bay Coalition to End Homelessness outlining findings from the 2018 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count which said Redondo Beach had 154 homeless, half in vehicles and half on the street.
Though it’s great that the number was down about 41 percent from 2017, there’s clearly still a long way to go. Over 150 people is nothing to scoff at.
From there the discussion went more into Measure H, a pretty big initiative here in the South Bay.
Oh mentioned that 51 strategies to combat homelessness have been developed which fit into six categories, including prevention, more affordable housing and increasing income.
That last point in particular led to discussions of working, as she pointed out that “most people think these homeless are comfortable living off government money, but that’s not true. Many want to work.”
Those three speakers had the most general information to hand out, so I figured I’d give the rest more of a quick-fire treatment.
Shari Weaver from Harbor Interfaith Services talked about her group’s more intimate outreach work, claiming that their 40 or so staff members know about 80 percent of the unsheltered homeless in the beach cities.
She also brought the feel-good stories, such as that of a client who they housed that had lost his home in the recent Paradise fires.
Weaver was followed up by representatives of the Cities of Manhattan and Hermosa Beach who talked about city governments creating homeless plans, including a $150,000 multi-jurisdiction proposal between them and Redondo Beach that got funded by Measure H on January 24.
Finally, a lieutenant with the Manhattan Beach Police Department talked about officers across the beach cities working on more “holistic approachs” of homeless outreach on top of their usual enforcement.
All that remained was the Q&A, which was relatively short. It was hilariously obvious that most of the questions came from older members of the audience who simply do not like the homeless population being around.
Watching the panelists have to explain that private churches would be allowed to help the homeless whether or not there was a “centralized gathering location” to feed the needy was pretty great.
In the end I didn’t have too much of a chance to talk to people after the event, but if nothing else I gathered a lot of names, contacts and general information for the future.
Plus I got a two-hour addition to my internship log while rubbing shoulders with folks like Redondo Beach Mayor Bill Brand.
So who knows, even if I get no Gladeo interviews out of this, it could be handy if I ever break into covering homelessness again.
Either way, I’d say this was an educational night well spent.
If I have any people to thank for just about all of the great stuff that has happened to me over the last three+ years, Bonnie Stewart has to be a big one.
Today, current and old members of the Daily Titan staff threw our favorite advisor a surprise party before her retirement from CSUF.
It was a sad day not just for all of us in the newsroom who have come to love Bonnie over her last five-and-a-half years advising the school’s newspaper, but also for nature in general apparently. The universe itself seemed to cry at the idea of her moving on from all of us students.
In this case I suppose I can blame it on the torrential downpour, which necessitated me to take a picture from inside the cozy warmth of a Starbucks post-meeting in the Honors Center rather than getting my phone drenched. I’m not kidding, it really came down like cats and dogs.
Pretty sure I hydroplaned at least once on the freeway going in this morning, and it was extra fun having copious amounts of water splash up against my windshield from adjacent cars.
… Alright maybe that’s enough complaining about the rain. This is supposed to be something of a celebratory ‘thank you’ kind of post after all.
Plus the rain had dried up by the time I left at about 6:00 p.m., four hours or so after the party for Bonnie began.
Nailed the transition
I wasn’t expecting the party to be very long or busy, but I’m glad I was wrong. Not only was it great seeing a packed newsroom show up to celebrate Bonnie, but a lot of those people were friends I haven’t had the chance to catch up with for a while!
Also, it gave my mom an opportunity to do some holiday baking for a crowd outside the usual suspects. By the end of the night there were only three pieces of her coffee cake left, and Bonnie liked it so much that she was happy to take the recipe.
While it was nice catching up with people like Kyle Bender, Amy Wells or Darlene Casas, meeting some older staff members like Samuel Mountjoy, Julia Gutierrez and Michael Huntley, and just generally schmoozing with a bunch of people and food, obviously Bonnie was the lady of the hour.
I’ve actually known about her retirement longer than most (from what I’m aware), as she was one of the first people I had approached to possibly be a mentor for my Honors Project. She had to turn me down since she wouldn’t have been around long enough to see the project through, and since then I’ve had to keep that little secret under lock-and-key.
Feels pretty nice to not have to hold onto it any longer… But it feel even more nice knowing that she trusted me with the secret in the first place.
Three+ years of working with Bonnie has undoubtedly made me a better person and a better journalist/writer/academic/anything, really. Any award I’ve received while at Cal State Fullerton, as well as any internship I’ve gotten as a result of my time at the Daily Titan, can all be tied back to her influence in some respect.
It was bittersweet to imagine her not having that same influence on others going forward as a result. But I know she’s off to do great things even in retirement, and I’m as excited to see where she lands as I’m sure she’s excited to see me (and all her students) land in jobs they deserve.
If there’s one thing I haven’t talked about nearly enough around here, it’s Fire Emblem.
Nah, just kidding. I talk about that way too much.
But I don’t talk about my Senior Honors Project as much as I probably should. Doing so would probably encourage me to make more progress than I have been.
Though that said, I’m here today to talk about the progress I have made, because I have honestly done a good bit outside of hunting for a mentor to approach once the semester kicks off. Like I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, I wanted to ensure I had some sort of basic product to approach my future mentor with as a showing of faith.
That’s meant interacting with some writers to know exactly what a fictional novel’s book proposal might look like so I can emulate it.
But that’s also meant working on actually starting to lay out and write my novel. Characters were the most difficult hurdle for me to get over, as I had a general idea what kind of plot line I wanted to go with but no serious image for who would be going through it.
Since passing that hurdle I’ve made it a good chunk of the way through my book’s first chapter. I’m hoping to at have at least two done as an example of the eventual overall product.
Outlining has been rather important to me on this current venture. I’ve attempted to write books before you see, but most of them falter when I get less than a chapter in because I don’t actually have a clear idea where I’m going with it. Usually my outings have begun with a vague idea of something that sounds cool with no substance around it.
Also they’ve usually started with the amnesiac protagonist cliché.
I’ve come to see the error of my ways. This book does not start that way, I assure you.
To help avoid a faltering in my progress and keep my thoughts better organized, I’ve turned to a new tool that mom introduced me to after using it for her editing work.
The full, in-depth explanation of how the tool works (and a place to download it) is here on the creator’s website. It undoubtedly does a far better job explaining all the intricacies than I could right now in my Hollow Knight-ed daze, so it’s worth going right to the source.
But I figured I shouldn’t cop-out entirely on this blog post by just pointing to other blog posts. After all, there are many different things in this outlining tool, and I’ve primarily been using only a few of them.
Most notably, like I mentioned, is the story outlining stuff.
It’s honestly hard to explain how invaluable this kind of section is for someone like me. Out of all the words of advice that the Daily Titan’s advisor Bonnie has given out for improving writing in the three years I’ve known her, the one nailed into my head the hardest would have to be the idea that a story should be able to distill down into a sentence.
There are so many stories for the newspaper I’ve written that have been far better once I knew how I wanted to focus them down.
Thus I’ve been approaching my basic outline here with the same mindset. If I’m able to distill the story down into just a sentence, both for the overall product and the individual chunks of that product, then I can more easily stick to one idea and run with it.
Then there’s the characters, both keeping track of how many are floating throughout the story as a whole and accounting for individual details of the characters in question.
This tool offers both:
There are lots of other things that are helpful in this tool as well.
Tabs to keep track of what different plots are intersecting when.
Tabs to track word count per chapter.
Tabs to organize what chapter hosts what information.
It’s just… Really good stuff. I don’t know what else to tell you guys.
Check it out, use it if you need help keeping organized like me, support the creator… And thank my mom. Because she’s great and finds some cool writing/editing stuff in her free time.
[Now last night because I wrote this rather slowly] I was honored to be invited to the Cal State Fullerton Communications Department Awards, where I received the $1,000 Jay Berman Daily Titan Scholarship.
Yeah, that really just about sums it all up. Fastest blog post I’ve ever written.
Good night everybody.
Okay fine, I can’t just leave it at that. But I am pretty tired so I’ll aim to keep it concise.
I took my Mom to Fullerton this afternoon for my 4:00 p.m. class because she was my +1 at the 6:00 p.m. awards.
That’s probably a good place to start, even though I don’t have too much to say about it since I wound up having to go down into the basement of College Park and couldn’t hang out with her.
After getting my full ensemble on in the parking lot, we took arguably the best photo of myself I think I’ve ever seen. It’s the featured image here, but here’s the full shot too:
Looking good, me. Looking good.
The awards took place in the Titan Student Union Pavilions (just across from the Mammoth fossil in the lobby, which we also got a photo with).
Slightly blurry while blown up, but it’s still nice.
The three-hour event actually ran well on schedule all things considered, so it felt like the smoothest awards ceremony I’ve ever been to. The first hour or so was dinner as the large banquet hall filled in.
I’m no Instagram food blogger so I didn’t actually get a photo of the dinner spread. It was nicely catered, though. Chicken, mashed potatoes, bread, salad and three kinds of cake. Nothing too unusual and not necessarily stellar, but it was passable.
The cake was real good though, I’ll give it that much.
All three of the center tables right up by the stage were reserved for Daily Titan staff and guests, so we had a pretty nice view all night and were able to all gather together as the well-dressed clique we were.
See? Aren’t we all perdy? Us journalists clean up nice apparently.
As far as the actual awards themselves go, I don’t have too much to say. Obviously I’m not here to summarize two hours worth of accolades that mostly went to people I don’t know.
In terms of the people I do know, I have to give some love to our current Editor in Chief Kyle for grabbing a bunch of recognition for his leadership, our current Managing Editor Sarah for her super high graduating GPA, News Editors Amy and Brandon, Web Editor/Clickbait God Harrison, Advertising Director Niko, my ex-News Editing partner/veteran Megan and, of course, our ex-EIC Zack for being my Berman Award buddy.
Hoo boy, that’s a lot of people… Hopefully I didn’t forget anybody from the group up above.
Ah, wait I did forget somebody. Arguably the most important person in relation to our experiences on the Daily Titan:
That’s right, our advisor Bonnie got the love she absolutely deserved tonight. If there’s anyone I could think of that deserves a Distinguished Faculty Member award, it’s undoubtedly her.
Don’t we look cute together?
I know I keep bringing up how everyone looks. What can I say, I think we all looked great in our cocktail attire tonight.
The other stand-out thing from tonight tied back to our Emcee, Henry DiCarlo. He’s an anchor for KTLA 5 and a Daily Titan alum who essentially wound up being a glorified raffle machine for the ceremony, handing out prizes a number of times throughout the event to break up all the awards.
It’s going to sound ridiculous without having been there, but he helped Del Taco become a meme.
Del Taco was one of the sponsors of the night (with Chief Marketing Officer Barry Westrum in the room) and happened to provide a lot of gift cards to be given away. When the first one was announced, however, Niko made such a huge outcry of excitement that DiCarlo picked up on it and ran with the moment.
From there, every single raffle prize had an aside related to Del Taco in some way or another, and it resonated quite well with the audience.
(From left to right) Our Editor in Chief Zack, me, our Copy Editor Kyle – who will be our Editor in Chief in the spring I might add, our Managing Editor Harrison behind him, our Sports Editor Kat, our Layout Editor Tracy and Zack’s boyfriend Jose all had a wonderful time together wandering the rather well-lit streets.
At least I assume we all had a good time together. Obviously I can’t speak for everyone, but I’d like to believe everyone enjoyed themselves.
Of course, we were also joined by Bonnie’s angel of a dog Cokie, who I believe she said is 16 years old.
What a freaking trooper she is. Even if she wouldn’t look at my camera for a photo from her stroller, which is honestly one of the most adorable things I’ve ever seen.
But I’ll let it slide because she’s the best.
I figure I should add that when the event was first getting started, Harrison and I were the only ones who arrived, and we had the chance to decorate Bonnie’s home a little bit for the holidays.
I said it in a twitter post when this first happened, but I think we set up a nice, appealing scene for a couple of guys who aren’t super visual people.
Plus, Tracy gave us a seal of approval, so we must have done something right.
We also had dinner together before the walk, with lasagna, salad, bread and coffee cake I brought (made by Aly I later found out). Plus sparkling cider. You can never go wrong with a nice glass or two of sparkling cider.
Especially given I don’t drink wine, or any alcohol for that matter, I’m sticking to that.
But of course, the highlight of the night post-story telling over the dinner table was the walk. I took pictures of everything, so I figured it would be worth sharing them here for anyone who wanted to see some great decorations:
It really was a blast, and a great send-off for this semester’s run of the Titan.
Plus, when we got back, Bonnie had made us chocolate chip and pecan cookies, which we sat around and ate while the Sound of Music was on.
Really, all and all it was a wonderful night. Although Zack won’t be coming back next semester, I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone else on a regular basis once we get into the swing of things after the new year.
Oh, but don’t even get me started on the inconveniences coming home from the party.
I won’t dwell on it for too long, but there were two lane off-ramps I usually use that were closed, and on my alternative route down the 405 freeway, there was a 20 minute parking lot after an accident that closed down like 4 lanes. Talk about a nightmare.
In other words, I meant to put this post up sooner, but unfortunately didn’t get home until later, so… Enjoy this midnight release of Jason having a nice time with his friends. Be sure to join me tomorrow morning for Fire Emblem Heroes, which I luckily had the foresight to start earlier on so I won’t have to be up all night writing it.