CQS 25th Anniversary Tribute: Maya Jones

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Maya Jones (Summer 2012)
Associate Editor
ESPN’s The Undefeated

In 2012, I found myself being pushed out of my comfort zone.

All the way out of my comfort zone.

Less than 24 hours after walking across the stage, smiling proudly with my degree from Xavier University of Louisiana, I was on a plane headed to Nashville, Tenn., to join 22 other Chips Quinn Scholars for nine days of intense multimedia training. It would be the first of two summer programs I was participating in before beginning my 12-week internship at The Detroit News.

This part of the journey was less frightening for me. The previous year, I’d participated in the Freedom Forum Diversity Institute Multimedia Scholars program, which allowed me to add tools to my belt that would come in handy for my stint as a sports intern with the South Bend Tribune in Indiana.

I was in a different space at that time. In 2011, I knew I had one more year of college. I’d learn everything I could as a multimedia scholar, rock out at my internship and return to my studies at Xavier without having to worry about the “real world” job hunt for at least another year.

The next year, the semesters moved quickly, and before I knew it my summer programs in Tennessee and Missouri and my internship in Michigan would either lead to a job or to the anxiety-inducing search for one.

Fearing the latter, I panicked.

I was no longer as confident as I’d once been. I worried about my future and the competitive nature of the industry. I continuously doubted myself, wondering if I was good enough for the field and whether I was doing enough to advance my career. For the first time, I was extremely uncomfortable because I worried about things beyond my control.

As soon as I stepped into the room in Nashville, a familiar place filled with familiar faces, my fear of the unknown subsided. The program not only boosted my confidence in my skills but also introduced me to peers who had experienced more or less of the same fears I had. Although I was still shaky, I was not alone. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Four years later, I’m still learning. I’m still growing. After my internship in Detroit, I landed a job interview with ESPN – my dream job – which led to a position as a researcher for ESPN The Magazine. After three and a half years of researching, fact-checking and writing, I landed a role as an associate editor and writer with ESPN’s The Undefeated – a site that explores intersections of race, sports and culture. Today, I’m more confident and closer to where I want to be. Although there are times I may falter, I still understand that true growth usually takes place outside of the comfort zone.

In 2015, I wrote about my experience as a survivor of Hurricane Katrina: “Sometimes we must be forced out of our comfort zones to discover ourselves.”

I’ll never stop discovering, exploring, writing and pushing myself to step out of my own way, even when it seems impossible to do. I’d like to thank the wonderful people behind the Chips Quinn Scholars program who helped me take my first steps into the career I continue to fall in love with every day.

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