Dawaune Hayes

Forge 2016 Alum, Freelancer

Forge My Own Path

June 21, 2016

I remember when I first saw it. A beautiful brown paper print poster laying on the Creightonian newsroom table, the word “FORGE” inked as if etched into an anvil – it immediately had my attention. I drew closer and scanned the copy scribed on the advertisement. The design alone made me want to take it home and frame it, but I had also figured that whomever produced the stationery must be doing something worthwhile.

I later proceeded to ask around about Forge, and spoke with my friend Molly Misek who had participated in the program in 2015. She told me about her experience and recommended it to anyone who had interest in learning and sharing ideas; it sounded perfect for me. As a senior journalism major with a focus in public relations at Creighton University, I wanted nothing more than to meet people who were practicing in the real world what I was learning in the classroom and it turned out Forge was exactly what I needed.

Every session was engaging, informative, and fun. I loved getting to know my fellow Forgers, people in similar fields of study from local colleges and universities, and seeing how their backgrounds mirrored and differed from my own. The team exercises were a great way to apply our topical discussions and interact with one another. Then, receiving feedback from session guests allowed us to ask questions and make improvements.

I thoroughly enjoyed every session but I would say that the Outreach session with John Melingagio of Bozell and Jill Heggen of Swanson Russell was one of my personal favorites because it provided direct insight into the life of a working PR professional. John and Jill were candid individuals who stressed the importance of honesty, communication, and relationships. They told a story of PR that expanded what I imagined the field to be. I came to understand that if I honestly utilize my abilities I would be able to have a real impact on the world around me.

Emspace gave my colleagues and I the chance to connect with people who are truly invested in using their talents to help others. I would recommend Forge to those who want perspective on what it means to be a communicator in today’s fast changing world. Emspace uses its relationships with local design and communications experts to connect students and newcomers to a wealth of knowledge.

Now that I am graduated I plan to spend most of my summer in Omaha working part-time and freelancing content development for local non-profits. Then in August I will drive cross-country with my boyfriend in search of new adventures and opportunities. We both want to use our skills in journalism, design, and media to learn about communities, people, and ideas growing across the United States and the world.

Forge helped me build the courage I needed to pursue this trip and the efforts behind it after speaking to the many professionals who generously imparted their wisdom. The opportunity to be in a room of genuine people who want to provide useful feedback and honest advice, while also connecting with them on a personal level, was really cool. I look forward to what the future will bring because now I can forge my own path.

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