- Published: October 11th, 2011
After spending more than 15 years in the newsroom, Pam Walck (1994) is back in the classroom.
Pam considers her education an investment.
“I figure, my undergrad was four years, and it gave me 16 or 17 years. So another five years for the next 20 or 25—that’s not too bad,” Pam said.
Pam completed her undergraduate degree in print journalism at Liberty University in 1994.
She is now studying to receive her master’s degree at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, Pa., with the ultimate goal of becoming a professor.
“I had these goals. I wanted to be a reporter. I wanted to be an editor. I wanted to teach and I wanted to write a book. Basically by the time I was 36, I had knocked three of those off the list. I haven’t written a book yet,” Pam said.
Between her years at Liberty and now Point Park, she worked several different beats at various newspapers. Her most rewarding experience was covering a military unit at The Savannah Morning News in Georgia.
“I felt like they were actually meaningful stories that were shining light into areas that most average Americans didn’t know about,” Pam said. “Even though I never got to deploy with them, to be able to tell stories that were really meaningful about the ramifications of war and how that impacts people, and trying to make those people real was really rewarding.”
Pam’s 2010 series of stories about women in the military called “Female Veterans: Unsung Service & Sacrifice” for The Savannah Morning News won her first place in feature writing from the Georgia Associated Press Association. The story also won third place in feature writing from the Georgia Press Association.
“Many of these women didn’t even feel like they had a story worth telling. Just to be able to tell their story, their part of history was an amazing gift,” Pam said.
Pam received recognition for another military story about wounded Iraqi veteran John Jones and other warriors in transition in 2009. She won second place in investigative reporting from the Georgia Press Association and first place in non-deadline reporting from the Georgia Associated Press Association.
“The reality was that it’s such a bureaucratic system that change is not instantaneous and it’s not quick,” Pam said. “John’s story was unfortunately too much like many other soldiers’ experiences.”
Pam’s ambitious writing began her freshman year at Liberty.
“I was having dinner with some friends and talking smack about how I was going to be editor of the campus paper someday. My friend looked at me and said, ‘You’re not even writing for them.’ I said, ‘Oh, you’re right!’”
Pam determined to accomplish her goal.
She became a sports reporter that year, then the news editor junior year and finally the editor in chief the last semester of her senior year.
Pam was frustrated on occasion by the censorship at Liberty, but overall “felt the administration was fair with us as a student press … (It) taught me life lessons.”
“I remember feeling frustrated at times because the administration had to approve all of the pages,” Pam said. “Back in those days, we had to take dummies of all the pages up to Dr. Falwell’s office and get him to approve them.”
However that frustration taught her a lesson she used out in the journalism field.
“When you get out into the ‘real world,’ the same stuff happens so I think learning how to handle those frustrations and meet them in a professional manner was probably a really valuable life lesson,” Pam said.
After graduating in May 1994, she was an intern for “The Hazleton Standard Speaker” just south of Scranton, Pa. before accepting a full-time position at the Kutztown Patriot, a weekly newspaper. From there, she was hired by the Pottsville Republican before heading to “The Savannah Morning News” where she started as a county government reporter. After two and a half years, she climbed the corporate ladder to an assistant editor position and eventually government team editor.
“Editors are kind of at the mercy of reporters that they meet their deadlines,” Pam said. “Sometimes I got out at a decent hour and sometimes it was dreadful.”
After completing her goals of being a reporter and editor, Pam tackled the teaching field. She taught three semesters as an adjunct professor at Savannah State University.
During that time, a supervisor regretted the fact that she did not have her master’s degree.
“One of the administrators said, it’s really too bad you don’t have your masters degree, we’d hire you full time if you did,” Pam said.
Pam took that to heart.
“I mulled it over for a while and then finally decided that things weren’t changing where I was. I was ready for a new adventure, so I walked away from a good paying career and health benefits,” Pam said. “I decided to do it because life is short and what’s the point of talking about it if you’re not going to actually put it into action.”
She enrolled for the fall 2010 semester at Point Park and is beginning her second year. She also hopes to attend either Penn State or Ohio University for her doctorate with the goal of becoming a college professor.
“To be able to explain something to a student who is just as eager as I was to learn about this profession that I absolutely love, to talk to them and kind of see the light bulb go on as they’re learning their craft and learning to find their writing voice, it was a really amazing experience,” Pam said.
A Focus on the Family DVD series “The Truth Project,” which looks at the foundations of the Christian faith, has strengthened her resolve as a professional and a woman of faith.
One of the lessons in the series discusses the difference between God’s Truth and secular truth.
“I think as a believer going into journalism where it is all about the pursuit of truth, small ‘t,’ knowing and understanding what Truth is, capital ‘T,’ impacts how you approach your profession and how you search for truth,” Pam said. “It gives you this groundwork or this foundation that journalists who aren’t of faith or who don’t have that strong ethical background don’t ever understand.”
She recalls how often her pastor in Savannah used to remind the congregation that statistically, within three years of a person’s conversion, most Christians no longer have non-believing friends. They surround themselves with believers. “This is in opposition to the life Jesus led – he was in the marketplace, pursuing relationships with non-believers all the time. As a Christ-follower, I feel it is something we should all be doing. And frankly, it was what motivated Dr. Falwell to start Liberty in the first place.”
Pam’s pursuit of God’s Truth may lead her to teach at Liberty University.
“Originally my goal was to go back to Liberty to teach there. So I don’t know if that door will ever open or not,” Pam said. “I figure it would be really fun to do that, but wherever God opens the door is where I’ll go.”
In her spare time, Pam enjoys spending time with her family and friends, DVRing her favorite TV shows and running.
“I ran my first race this past September in Pittsburgh, and it was really just an amazing experience,” Pam said. “It lent perspective to Paul’s words about running the race.”