Let your voice be heard

by Tori Pittman

Everyone has a way of communicating — verbally, nonverbally, or in an artistic way. In the beginning, for me, it was nonverbal. I understood what people would say to me, but I would act it out. This is the story my parents have told me so many times. When it was time for me to start school, however, the director made it seem like I needed to go to a special ed class. That definitely set my mother off.

Instead of that option, I was able to attend regular classes with the rest of the kids, along with one period for speech class. Of course, since I was still trying to learn to comprehend, I got bullied. Kids thought since I wasn’t able to speak clearly that I was some weirdo and I would get picked on, and didn’t have many friends. However, after every year, I was able to comprehend and speak better. I still had a few mishaps and minor speech impediments, but I was evolving.

By the time I was 12 years old, I began to take a liking to writing poetry. Since this was a nonverbal communication, it felt as if my words were more powerful than when I spoke. I was at the beginning stages of writing until I embarked upon my creative writing class throughout my high school year. Every year, my writing slowly began to grow stronger, and my verbal communication was at its peak. At this point, I figured it would be a favorite past time.

Undergrad can sometimes be tricky. I thought I knew what I wanted to major in, but I went through so many changes. I thought about science. Why? I still don’t know to this day why I chose a science major, because at first it was chemistry and then biology. Seeing that my grades had failed me, I was thinking of what to change my major to, and fast. So mass communications was my final answer, with a concentration in journalism. Taking English and literature classes was way better than organic chemistry and molecular biology any day!

In my first journalism course, I learned about basic news writing and following AP guidelines. By the time the semester ended and I started working for the campus newspaper at NC Central University, I slowly began to craft the required skills. After receiving my bachelor’s I wanted more of that rush of writing and publishing. While working to pay back the student loans that accumulated, I began to ponder about grad school for about two years. My gut instincts just told me to go ahead and apply, and that’s where I fell in love with Full Sail University online.

My love for writing flourished again with every week in which an assignment was due and we published it on our web pages. I loved every minute that I spent in that program, and I felt that my words became a power tool once again. My voice was being heard. People were reading, commenting, and applauding my work. I was overjoyed. By the time I was in so deep, I had completed the final project and the thesis paper and it was over. Graduation in Florida was quite the Christmas gift for me in 2012, along with going to Disney World for the first time.

But similar to the period after I graduated from NC Central, there became a question of whether a career would come through for me. One local paper in Durham called The Triangle Tribune granted me the freelance opportunity for a few months. The rush and the thrill continued on as I went into the community and wrote stories for them. Each time I saw my article published with my byline and the title “correspondent,” I felt so important. Even if it was just a local paper, it still meant a lot. My hard work was paying off. I kept looking for opportunities, my driven passion for writing has always kept me going. The writer in me will never die. Determination will get your far in life, as I am now writing here on the YES! Weekly as an intern.

To those who have a hard time speaking and comprehending, my message to all of you out there is to never give up and keep pushing. Do what you can so your voice can be heard, verbal or non-verbal. Because you never know how far you’ll come, and I am living proof. !