A Fresh Horse

Friday, 15 July 2011
"Keep a fresh horse in the barn well-fed and ready to go because the horse you are riding on now may come up lame." -Donald Thornton from Yvonne S. Thornton, MD's Something to Prove, A Daughter's Journey to Fulfill a Father's Legacy

I took horsemanship classes throughout college and would have double-majored in the subject if the program was available. During that time, I rode for at least two hours twice a week and spent time grooming and cleaning tack. Suffice it to say, I know a little bit about horses.

A good horse is healthy, has a sense of curiosity, is powerful and unafraid but understands direction. A rider can have a hell of a ride on a good horse, especially if the pair has been working together for some time. However, after many years of enjoyable riding a horse may become injured or just gets old.

As a rider, you get attached to a horse (my favorite horse at school was named Ty, with a golden brown coat and a shiny black mane) and it can be difficult to move on. Even if a new horse will take you to new heights, literally, there is a learning curve that can be painful and even emotionally draining.

I am getting ready to take on a new horse.

My life as a full-time, on-air television journalist is changing to that of a Communication and Information Science PhD student and undergraduate teacher. I've been in TV news for 11 years and it is time to begin a new adventure. I was awarded a full-time stipend by the University of Tennessee as well as a competitive fellowship. My benefits include tuition waiver, salary and healthcare. This is an excellent opportunity but a difficult decision because I love my job and my WATE 6 News family.  However, the industry is changing, the pay isn't great and the long hours coupled with working weekends and holidays become tedious. It is time for a fresh horse.

What happens after I finish my two-year program? I hope to begin a full-time research position in a private university or perhaps teach full-time with a goal of tenure. This will most importantly open my life up to a schedule that will allow time to pursue my greatest love, writing.

Please join the journey. I will admit my utter fear in the face of something shiny and new. My job as a journalist has a foundation of experience and talent. As a student who doesn't know a thing about statistics, academic research and teaching others, I will be back to creating building blocks.  Eventually those blocks should create corner stones on which my new career can rest. In the meantime, there will be some stumbles.

If a rider isn't accustomed to a horse, there can be some dangerous moments. I've never fallen off of a horse but I've been bucked, and had to jump off once. Some horses spook around water, some horses spook if birds take flight. There are many nuances to pick up on about an animal before things are smooth in the saddle. The horse is also learning a rider's posture, voice, weight, patience and determination. However, after enough time together, the two are in sync and the journey is exhilarating. That's the goal as I retire from one side of the media industry and enter another.

I begin school in August, will keep my position at WATE through the end of July and will be freelancing so you'll still see me on the tube.


Dan said...

Denae, I've been following your blog for a little while now (pretty much since you left Eugene) and I congratulate you on your decision to try something different that you will also enjoy doing... don't worry about the teaching thing... the short home construction project videos you produced show you have a talent for teaching others... the rest will come over time.

Tina L. Hook said...

I think that is wonderful! Congratulations. I left behind my 10 year career in Financial Services two years ago and I understand about starting over. It is a courageous journey. Cheers to new beginnings.

Korny Karen said...

Wow! Had no idea. I commend you on the new adventure but will greatly miss your full time reporting.

I wish you all the best on the exciting new chapter in your life.

I am sure we will be kept abreast of everything via your blog and Twitter.


Teri's Blog said...

Yippee! Well, I spent a whole day this week just working the numbers on SPSS. You're gonna love it!

Christine said...

What a wonderful opportunity! Thank goodness for blogs, Twitter, and Facebook for keeping in touch.

LizP said...

You are very talented and I know you'll do well in your new endeavour! Thomas & I are cheering you on from Eugene!!!