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Manship School Student Helping Fulfill Two Generations’ Worth of Dreams

For young people, education can provide wings that allow dreams to take flight.

One LSU student’s dreams are doing just that, and she is taking her mother along for the ride.

Garesia Randle, a senior from Houston, Texas,  with a 3.50 gpa in mass communication, recently earned recognition as one of the top 10 journalism students in the nation from the Scripps-Howard Foundation. Aside from a $10,000 scholarship, the recognition also helped a mother realize her dreams through her child.

“My mom should have been where I am,” she explained.

Chernette Abbs, Randle’s mother, was forced to give up her dreams of going to college and becoming a writer when she gave birth to Garesia at age 16. Ever since then, she pushed her daughter to excel in the classroom.

“I saw her talent in middle school,” said Abbs, who worked various jobs while raising Garesia and sister, Charnese. “I didn’t accept anything less than the best from her. I knew she had capabilities.”

“I didn’t always understand it,” Randle said. “But now I see. She always told me I had a lot to offer the world.”

Once her daughter reached middle school, Abbs saw a skill with words and paper develop.

“I knew it was her gift,” she explained. “I had to make her understand. Her gifts were so much greater than mine.”

And now the rest of the world is beginning to see what Chernette always saw in her daughter.

Randle spent eight weeks in the summer of 2007 interning with the Scripps-Howard company in Washington D.C., where she learned the ins and outs of covering Capitol Hill. It was quite the experience for the 21-year-old, who had never even flown on a plane before.

“I wanted to understand how politics worked for myself,” she said. “To be honest, I didn’t know much about how the government worked, but I didn’t worry about that and I think putting myself out there as kind of a blank slate made (Scripps-Howard) want to give me a chance.”

Indeed, Randle and her fellow interns were soon swept up in covering the story of former congressman Mark Foley, who was forced to resign in September following a scandal involving congressional pages.

“We did a follow up on House pages,” Randle explained. “I learned about how the page program works and what they go through.”

But Washington would just be the start of her journey. Later that summer, Randle and other interns would spend two weeks in Japan and Seoul, South Korea, learning about the journalistic practices of those nations.

“It was a 12-hour flight,” she said. “It wasn’t a lot of fun for my body, but it was very interesting.”

In addition to seeing the sights of the country, Randle visited newspapers in Tokyo and Osaka, as well as Korea University.

“All students there have to take five classes in English,” she said. “And you have to take a test to become a professional journalist.”

Aside from her mother’s encouragement, Randle cites the faculty in LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication for continuing to push her forward.

“When the professors here find out who you are, they keep you in mind,” she said. “And when you need them, they are there for you.”

It was a sense of community that drew Randle to Baton Rouge from Houston’s Eisenhower High School.

“It seems so big here, but you can still have that sense of independence,” she said. “LSU just stuck out in my mind for that.”

Larry Snipes, professional in residence at the Manship School, said that Randle’s writing spoke much louder than her shy, reserved demeanor.

“I thought she had potential,” he explained. “You could definitely tell she was interested and dedicated, but she was very cautious. But she’s the kind of student you dream of having. You can actually see her learning.”

Snipes encouraged Randle’s drive to be a reporter, resulting in her taking a job with The Daily Reveille, LSU’s student-run newspaper. She also specifically credits the professor for pushing her to pursue the highly sought-after Scripps-Howard award, despite being one of 15,000 applicants.

“He throws all of your modesty aside,” Randle said of her professor.

“(Garesia) is the type of student who will help this University in the future,” Snipes said.

In fact, helping other students is where Randle would like her career to eventually take her. She will graduate in May 2008, and hopes to eventually return to Eisenhower.

“I really want to go back and become a teacher,” Randle said. “We didn’t have a high school paper or anything like that, and I’d love to start some kind of journalism program there.”

It is an ambition that, perhaps more than any other accomplishment, makes her professor the most proud.

“Garesia exemplifies the best attempts of this University,” said Snipes. “She came to LSU with a goal and a desire to learn, and she already is a success in her achievements here. Those experiences will lead her to a successful career as a journalist who plans to give back to the community that produced her. She will never be the success who forgets where she came from.”

Billy Gomilla | LSU Office of Public Affairs
Spring 2008

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