That was in 1970, when the media was still governed by the Fairness Doctrine, a policy introduced by the Federal Communications Commission in 1949. Abolished in 1987, the Fairness Doctrine required news outlets to present all sides of a story in an honest, balanced manner.
I had just turned seventeen and had been hired by the newspaper to cover traditional high school events like proms, homecoming courts, and school plays. But East Lansing High School, situated across the street from Michigan State University in the late 1960s and early 1970s, was anything but traditional.
A group of students were protesting a planned presentation by a representative from the Air Force Academy recruiting at the high school. The protests were peaceful. Most of the students said it was their way of objecting to an illegal and immoral war in Viet Nam. Others said they were demonstrating because the right of free speech was allowed only to certain organizations, not others.
The students were suspended. But their actions would influence a full school board review of suspension policies and result in a new procedure for the selection of outside speakers that would involve students as well as faculty. The Reserve Officer Training Corps would continue recruiting on campus, but other organizations were invited too.
The students made a difference.
So, did Nick Sharkey. He was the first, although not the last, to teach me what it means to mentor another. Writing that story would be a turning point in my life. It would eventually lead to a full-time job at the newspaper, a position that not only funded my college education, but also introduced me to the skill, the discipline, and the joy of writing.
I had forgotten about Nick until a month ago. My publicist said I needed a professional photograph of myself for my upcoming book, Uncharted Waters: Romance, Adventure, and Advocacy on the Great Lakes. Initially I planned on contacting a local photography studio. And then I saw P. Havlik, a Holland High School student, photographing sunsets, and I knew what I wanted to do. When I read the following blog on her website, I knew what I had to do.
If you ever see a bad picture of yourself, just think of a sunset. We have all tried getting the perfect picture of a sunset on a camera. The thing is . . . a camera just simply cannot contain and capture all of the beauty in the actual sky. Just like it cannot contain and capture all of the beauty in you.
At fifteen years of age, she was stretching the sunset beyond the skies. And while it can be risky to mentor others, it is only when we reach out to another that we create the human chain of hope needed to heal a wounded world.
3/30/2018 06:56:04 pm
Our young people ... our hope for the future. Thank you for reminding me to think of those who mentored me.
3/30/2018 07:46:00 pm
It's wonderful that you remind us of your own experience as a student as we align ourselves with other students...right now, in Florida. You are so right, Mary: The mentors that we choose (and those we DON'T choose), are vitally important. We're all better off because you had the wisdom to choose Nick. Kudos to both of you!
3/30/2018 08:59:09 pm
Over the years, thanking my early mentors have filled with with hope that all young people will be as fortunate.
Mary Ellen Miller
3/30/2018 09:07:27 pm
What a great read on a wintry-feeling Good Friday! Thank you, Mary.
3/31/2018 12:13:57 am
Mary, this is an inspiring story of the continuum of mentoring. How wonderful that you have a found a protégé who is remarkably precocious, just as you were nearly fifty years ago. Nick was wise enough to see your talents, and you have honored him by employing those of P. Havlik. My goodness, her sunset analogy is as beautiful as her photography. Thanks for sharing your find!
3/31/2018 01:35:34 am
Oh, I absolutely love the photo of both you and Rubin on the About page. You of course know my all time favorite...the one where you are all bundled up--featured on 7-18-14 blog (Cold Knows No Pride). Man, that picture makes me happy.
3/31/2018 04:33:04 pm
O, I love this! Thank you for giving this young woman such an opportunity.
Your comment will be posted after it is approved.
Leave a Reply.
from your local bookstore
or online retailer
and on this site.
The Ideal Gift
Tiny Treasures, a collection of wildflower photographs and poetic prose, available by clicking on the Purchase Products button below.
The 2nd Edition of Tiny Treasures is designed for use on PCs, tablets, and phones and is available at online stores. To learn more, click on the Ibook/Ebook button below: