The University of Georgia
Cousins, Juanita, Irene

UGA's Amazing Students

Juanita Irene Cousins

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October 28, 2007

Senior Juanita Cousins is changing the way things are done. She’s majoring in newspaper journalism and international affairs, and she hopes to one day become a foreign correspondent. She is the first female African-American editor of UGA’s independent student newspaper, the Red & Black. She has interned at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Macon Telegraph and is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists. She has worked at the Red & Black for more than two years in various roles ranging from crime reporter to opinions editor. Immediately after graduation, she hopes to work for a mid-sized daily newspaper.

Expected graduation:

Spring 2008

Degree objective:

A.B.J. in newspapers and A.B. in international affairs

University highlights, achievements and awards:

I was given the Harold Day Award for Journalistic Excellence in April 2007. The award is given once annually to an outstanding achiever at the Red & Black in memory of the late news editor Harold Day.

Hometown:

Stone Mountain, Ga.

High School:

Chamblee Charter High School

Current Employment:

I am the first female African-American editor-in-chief of the Red & Black, the University’s independent student-run newspaper. My proposal to the board of directors was eight pages long, and although I am optimistic, it is highly likely that I will not achieve all of my goals because of time. If I leave the paper better than how it was when I began my role, I’ll call that success. This is my fifth semester at The Red & Black. I have served in many other positions including crime reporter, copy editor, photographer, opinions editor and news editor.

Family Ties to UGA:

I am the first person from my family to attend the University of Georgia. For the past three years, I have been trying to convince my 16-year-old brother that this university is also a good fit for him. He frequently attends football games with me, and I make him call the dawgs every time.

I chose to attend UGA because...

...the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication is ranked the No. 3 journalism school in the country. I’ve known that I wanted to be a journalist since I was 16. When my laundry basket gets full, it’s also great that home is only an hour away.

My favorite things to do on campus are...

Dawgs After Dark has become my Friday night mantra. My friends and I are collecting Build-A-Bears and photos with customized backgrounds. I also have scars from racing on the inflatable.

When I have free time, I like...

...sleep. A good editor never gets much rest because we spend so much time worrying and working.

The craziest thing I've done is...

During my freshman year I tried out for UGA’s Rowing Team on a whim. Although I had no experience rowing, I made crew because tryouts were based solely on I athletic ability, such as running times. (In high school I ran track and swam.) I soon learned how to row and traveled nearly every weekend of my freshman year to regattas across the southeast. It was a very memorable experience that kept me from gaining the dreaded freshmen 15.

My favorite place to study is...

I enjoy studying outside, especially in early fall when it is still warm and there is a slight breeze. Herty Field is my favorite spot to study because of the beautiful scenery, benches in the shade and waterfall. It’s also a great place to people watch during study breaks.

My favorite professor is...

...the notorious Conrad Fink. I have taken his Ethics and Opinion Writing classes. The balance of my day hangs on his every word. I am constantly amazed by the wealth of his knowledge. Every time he tells a story about chasing stories for The Associated Press in New Delhi or moving through the rice patties of southeast Asia, my attention is drawn like a moth to light. Professor Fink has likely written a dozen or so letters of recommendation for me and has given me an abundance of career advice. I hope to keep in touch with him for years to come. When I grow up, I want to be just like Fink.

If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with...

...Nelson Mandela because of his eminent courage and determination to have civil rights and justice for his people. The former South African president said in his 1994 inaugural speech, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” When I am in a difficult situation, I remember Mandela’s quote, and it gives me strength to turn the obstacle into a pedestal.

If I knew I could not fail, I would...

...be a fire fighter. Since I was in kindergarten, I’ve secretly dreamed sliding down a shiny medal pole while wearing a dingy, yellow jacket and rushing to extinguish fires.

After graduation, I plan to...

...become a reporter for a mid-sized daily newspaper. My career goal is to be a foreign correspondent.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be...

I was a Student Government Association senator during the 2005-2006 school year and organized Diversity Tailgate for two years. The purpose of the event is to provide a safe-haven for students of diverse backgrounds who normally don’t feel comfortable on their campus on game days. My mom came to the event and asked the DJ to play the electric slide song. There were more than 300 students of diverse backgrounds who stopped socializing with those of like backgrounds to dance. Other tailgaters joined in too. I looked around to find a sea of tans, beiges and browns laughing a having a good time together. That’s when I realized the tailgate’s success.