Saturday, October 24, 2009

Living His Dreams

This past Wednesday, political cartoonist Marshall Ramsey, a nationally syndicated two-time Pulitzer finalist was a Society of Professional Journalists guest speaker at the Meek School of Journalism. Ramsey, who is the political cartoonist for The Clarion-Ledger in Mississippi, spoke about life as a cartoonist and political satire in Mississippi.

During the two programs he gave at the school, Ramsey talked with students about the obstacles he went through to get to where he is today; from college advisers who told him the collegiate newspaper didn't need another cartoonist, to his first newspaper editor who told him he had no career in the profession. Without a doubt, Ramsey's message was one of perseverance and achieving one's dreams.

As a result of his persistence, His cartoons while attending Kennesaw State College won the top prize for collegiate cartoonists, The John Locher Memorial Award. From then on, his career has skyrocketed as his cartoons have gone on to appear in USA Today, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, The Chicago Tribune, and The New York Times.

Also a melanoma survivor, Ramsey has been honored by the Melanoma Research Foundation and the American Cancer Society for his work with promoting skin cancer screening. During his presentations he reminisced about overcoming cancer and finding away to see the humorous side."How do you brush the devil off your shoulder?" Ramsey said to the classes, "You laugh at him."

It truly was an honor having Ramsey to speak and this program was one I had been planning since last April. Quite often, speakers that come through are trite and boring. Having heard him three times in the past seven years, I knew Ramsey would be a welcomed break from the norm. "He was like a stand-up comedian with his own visuals," student Darren White said, "Every cartoon he showed us had a great impact and he always had a punch line to go with it."

One of my favorite aspects to preparing the program was creating the event poster. It is by far the most creative and enjoyable I've been able to be in my SPJ program designs. Although there were many complications involved with the preparation of this program, thanks to team work and an extensive amount of emails, SPJ was able to cover all the basses in making the program a successful one.

We even got a shout-out from Ramsey later in the evening on his Twitter account.

"I'd like to thank Andrew Scott, Debora Halpern Wenger and the Ole Miss chapter of the SPJ for inviting me up to speak at Ole Miss today," Ramsey said on his profile.

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