The stories by Black women writers are important and should be heard. This is why I relaunched my school’s publication. Slowly transitioning back to “normal” on our 39-acre campus from a tragic pandemic, my friend, Mauranne Vernier, and I recognized the need to get more stories by young Black women out into the world. Developing The Blueprint came easy to us. We had a clear vision and understood the need. I spoke to a mentor who helped me figure out the steps of starting an organization on campus.
Mauranne Vernier and I pulled together the required elements to not only relaunch The Blueprint but also be recognized as a student organization on campus. We found there were only a few clubs and organizations at Spelman catering to aspiring (creative) writers and not so much for journalists. So, we wanted to make a difference in the world of storytelling, and we solicited the help of other storytellers, writers, photographers and other creatives.
Nearly five years after the last student-led newspaper graced Spelman’s campus, our mission is underway. Through The Blueprint, Mauranne and I hope to create space for students to hone and develop their craft. Last summer, we held multiple meetings to discuss our plans while browsing through the archived articles of The Blueprint. Neither of us could have predicted the interest we received from our peers at Spelman’s student organization fair. I was delighted to see students running toward our booth and hearing their enthusiasm, knowing that Spelman now had a publication for them. Constantly watching the sign-up sheet grow with each name, student email, and phone number, I could not believe how much this small (super) huge accomplishment meant to other students and staff members.
Currently, The Blueprint has over 30 members, not including the executive board. Our members are talented and passionate about the newspaper and are invested in seeing it grow. The newspaper’s relaunch has garnered support from several staff members at Spelman, including President Dr. Helene Gayle.
As we prepare for The Blueprint’s official relaunch later this Spring, I can’t help but think about the power and importance of Gen-Z journalists like myself and my classmates. From interviewing Spelman alumna and the Femme It Forward CEO Heather Lowery to attending the Essence Girls United Summit, I see clearly the opportunity for budding journalists like myself to be a part of the conversation now. Student journalists are journalists, and we have a lot to add to discussions happening now.
After Mauranne and I complete our journey at Spelman College, our hope is to pass the torch down to two members of our executive board to continue our legacy and grow the publication to reach national audiences. Gen-Z’s presence in journalism is important because we are covering hard-hitting topics like social justice issues, mental health, self-care, student debt, and healthy work environments as generations before but in a completely different world, where there’s more acceptance yet more pushback against social justice issues.
The Blueprint will have a fresh start while honoring the important stories of students who came before us. I would like for our issues in the future to include conversations with and about women we admire who will inspire the incoming generation Alpha to keep our stories as young Black women alive. Our goal is that The Blueprint is a vehicle that helps to drive creativity through writing. For those in the general public who can assist us, we would love to see offers from different mediums, including journalism fellowships, mentoring, and networking workshops.
Considering students who are aspiring and talented writers, I hope their experience with The Blueprint is one that they can take along their unique journeys following Spelman. With The Blueprint, current students can stay informed about events on and off campus, support peer businesses, and inspire the community to share the news with alumnae. As aspiring writers of generation Z, we have a unique way of expressing our feelings toward certain issues from academia, politics, and social justice. I believe using The Blueprint as our platform to share these stories will make a change not only between our three campuses but nationally.
Aspiring journalist Kylar Gray is co-editor-in-chief of Spelman’s digital publication, The Blueprint.
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