By Paula Garcia, Class of 2011
When I started ninth grade in Pompano Beach High School in 2008, there was no Tornado Times. However, I had the great fortune of having Dr. Shipe as my English Honors teacher and later on in my senior year as my teacher in AP Lit. He quickly recognized that my class and those below us had a talent for writing and a passion to speak about our school and how the world around us influenced our little corner of the world.
When I was in 11th grade, the idea of Tornado Times was brought up and in my senior year, we officially had the first journalism class at Pompano. The basic journalism skills that I learned during my time with the Tornado Times fermented my desire to pursue journalism in college, and were the strongest building blocks I could have asked for.
While at the Tornado Times, I was a writer, a photographer, and an editor. We didn’t have enough people to just do one thing, so we learned very quickly how to be the whole package. We learned how to come up with story ideas, how to pitch them to the team, how to write a compelling piece, how to edit/proofread, and how to go out and bring the story to live via photos, videos, and interviews all within a matter of weeks to bring Tornado Times to life.
This experience alone made my four years as a journalism major in Boston University a blast, because while others were still learning these basic skills, which were often separately introduced in different classes, I was simply learning how to refine them and find my own unique voice.
Journalism in college allowed me to travel the world and see places like Australia, where I took a two-month travel journalism course. I also had the chance to intern with Voice of America in Washington, D.C. and got to tour places like the White House, the set of NBC’s Meet the Press, and NPR headquarters.
I graduated with a BS in Journalism in 2015 with Summa Cum Laude honors. After college, I pursued a freelance career for about two years as a copywriter for a variety of companies using the writing skills I had first learned while at Tornado Times, and then sharpened at BU.
Hoping to gain more experience in copywriting, public relations, and journalism as a whole in a dynamic work environment, I joined the Navy in 2017. However, due to manning needs at the time, I was unable to serve as a Mass Communication Specialist and instead entered as a Nuclear Electrical Technician.
While my current career path in the Navy is far removed from journalism, many of the skills I gained from journalism, starting at Tornado Times, have helped me excel as a communicator, and have helped me see the bigger picture in times of chaos. It also helped me learn early on the importance of working under pressure, meeting tight deadlines, and working in a close-knit team. I currently work as a Computer Technician within the Nuclear community thanks to those skills.
While I might not be in a journalism field at the moment, my time at Tornado Times formed the spark that continues to burn within me to see the world with the eyes of a journalist — critically and analytically — and I hope to return to it with more force and determination in the future.
Paula C. Garcia
US NAVY – EMN3
USS Ronald Reagan – Japan
Propulsion Plant Local
Area Network Technician
Tornado Times Class of 2011
Boston University College of Communications Class of 2015
Some of the work I have done: