CQS 25th Anniversary Tribute: Sharnell Bryan


Sharnell Bryan (Summer 2003)
Coordinator, Data and Systems Trainer
District of Columbia Public Schools

I’m not in the journalism field, but my Chips Quinn internship and overall experience taught me valuable techniques that I still practice to this day, including staying the course and enhancing my communication skills.

In 2012, I was laid off from an administrative position. Seven months later, I was hired on contract to work for the public school system in Washington, D.C., doing more administrative work, and for even less money. I treated the job as if it were top level and did my duties to the best of my abilities for the next nine months. Then a full-time position opened at the agency, and I was offered the job, which paid more and included benefits.

My high spirits were not lost on the staff. It reminded me of being in the newsroom of The Observer-Dispatch in Utica, N.Y. I was an intern, but the staff trusted my ability to write and publish front-page news, and for that I was extremely grateful.

The biggest boost came in 2015, when the agency lost grant money and had to reduce its work force. I thought my time was up when my position was cut, but once again, the higher-ups saw my work ethic, knowledge and attention to detail (all qualities I honed while a Chips Quinn Scholar) and asked me to apply for a higher position. I got it and am now a coordinator.

To go from unemployment to a low-paying job to a high-level position in just three years was a lesson in perseverance, dedication and humility. Sometimes in life you will work your fingers to the bone for a goal, only to find that the answer is “no.” But don’t take it as a final answer; take it as a “not now,” or maybe “not this job, not city, not this state…” It is not the end. For many, it’s just the beginning. I credit the Chips Quinn Scholars program with helping to instill those values in me, and the staff at The Observer-Dispatch for their appreciation of my capabilities.




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