By Zachary Powell
I have been pushing this off for days and days because I was not sure how I wanted to write my story or what I even wanted to say. Not to mention the fact that I’ve never written an editorial before. Nonetheless, here we are.
My name is Zachary Powell. At Wilson, a lot of people knew me as “Big Z” or “ZP.” I am a 2021 graduate with a degree in Communications and minors in Sociology and Psychology. During my four years at Wilson, I got involved in a host of activities. The Billboard was one of them; I became a staff writer and eventually took an online editor position. Outside of The Billboard, I was an athlete (three-year captain and starter), student leader (VP of Black Student Union, student athlete mentor, play-by-play broadcaster for women’s basketball) and a voice for students on campus (Orientation Leader and Constitution-and-by-laws chairperson).
I know that was a mouthful, but I did not play when it came to leadership and making an impact in the Wilson community. I wanted to make sure that I left a positive change in the college community while creating an unforgettable experience for myself. After all, Wilson gave me the experience of a lifetime. In between classes, athletics and extracurricular activities, I found my passion in sports journalism. After graduating from Wilson in May 2021, I decided to pursue a master’s degree in sports journalism. My heart and passion have always been with sports, and writing has been an activity I’ve enjoyed since high school. While there are not many schools that have a graduate degree in sports journalism on the east coast, I found a school that I really interested me.
That school, IUPUI, has converted me into the man I am today. IUPUI—Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis—is in Indianapolis, Indiana. The main campus is about eight hours from Wilson. I knew the adjustment would be something new, but I was not going to let the geographic location stop me from pursuing my dream. So, in August 2021, my girlfriend and I packed our cars and moved to Indiana. To say we have made a home here is an understatement. Within six months, we both have found part-time jobs, new people, adopted a dog, and learned a new area.
For graduate school itself, the adjustment was not as bad as I thought. While the campus is big, containing over 20,000 students, the program at IUPUI is small. Classes often have about 8 students. That was perfect for me! I knew I could get one-on-one attention and thrive being in a small program. One thing that has helped me to this day, and that I would advise anyone, is to simply get involved. Being involved at Wilson not only showed my professors and this program that I was capable, but being involved prior to graduate school showed me I could handle master’s level work. Being able to balance a sport along with clubs at Wilson prepared me for a workload balance now. A master’s degree sounds good, but a lot of work goes into it. I currently take four classes, Monday through Thursday, plus work as a part-time high school sports reporter job on the weekends. What makes the grind easier than it seems, though, is that I love what I do. I love interviewing, writing, reporting, and getting to know players and coaches through sports.
My experiences at Wilson as a broadcaster, writer and a leader have helped me in this program. Since moving here 7 months ago, I have already been credentialed to work at the 2022 College Football National Championship game that was played in January. As I write this, I am currently credentialed for the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine and will also be credentialed for the 2022 Men’s Final Four Basketball Championships in New Orleans this April.
I said everything mentioned above to drive this point home: get involved! Because Wilson has a smaller campus population, there are many opportunities to express interest in different clubs, sports, and activities. It does not take an extrovert or spectacular person to start a new club or be a leader on campus. By getting involved and making yourself known, you can make connections and build relationships with people on campus and find things out about yourself that you did not know existed! The Billboard is a great way to get involved, but there are other ways to make yourself known around campus as well. I am very thankful for my 4 years at Wilson; the experiences and different people I forged connections with will last a lifetime. All of this will serve me for other experiences down the road.