Genealogy begins and ends with great health care …

By “doing the right thing” and ‘trusting no one’ learn if graduate school is right for you: Four, sure-fire ways to find out

m delighted to report that I followed Dr. James’ sound advice: A little more than one year after she directed me to this unknown territory, I graduated from the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. Part of my decision to attend Medill was based on the sage advice of my classmate, Spike Lee, who experienced a similar conversation with Dr. James just a year ahead of me. Spike simply said, “Do what she (Dr. James) said. It is easier that way.” I easily recall what Spike said since it was straight-forward and impactful. Do what she said. It is easier that way.

When I was a student nearing the end of my matriculation at small, private and United Methodist Church-based school in Atlanta, Ga., my department chair, Dr. Gloria James, strongly recommended that attend graduate school.

My response: No way.

I financed my undergraduate education at the private institution of Clark College (now Clark Atlanta University) with an annually renewable Reader’s Digest essay scholarship, grants, cash and limited student loans. I didn’t want to take on any more debt. Period. Also, my ego was calling most of the shots in 20-year-old mind. I was anxious to begin my career and thereby make my mark upon this world. Yet, my consistent pattern of listening to and following the advice of folk much wiser than me, overruled my lesser reasoning. On top of it all, I received a job offer from the Atlanta Journal/Constitution to serve as a city beat reporter.

Wised up

The thumbnail outcome of my choices is that graduate education has paid off in many ways for me, including serving as the first female dean of journalism school, serving as the highest-ranking female local government administrator in Georgia, multi-media and award-winning financial journalist, and a myriad of other career and personal highlights. My salaries have typically remained higher than my peers in the industry.

Tip #1: Weigh investment of graduate $ investment v. other factors

As the parent of adult children who matriculated through college and graduate school, I am well aware of the cost-benefit ratio when considering graduate schools. While there are several articles, government studies and other research available to help students and their parents determine if graduate is worth it based on costs alone, I found this document to prove the most useful.

I am upfront in my recognition of the costs factors of graduate education. Yet, I advocate for graduate degrees based on the lifetime benefits of the investment.

Tip #2: Spike Lee told me to ‘do the right thing’

I am delighted to report that I followed Dr. James’ sound advice: A little more than one year after she directed me to this unknown territory, I graduated from the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. Part of my decision to attend Medill was based on the sage advice of my classmate, Spike Lee, who experienced a similar conversation with Dr. James just a year ahead of me. Spike simply said, “Do what she (Dr. James) said. It is easier that way.” I easily recall what Spike said since it was straight-forward and impactful. Do what she said. It is easier that way.

Spike, a graduate of Morehouse College and New York University, and me, a graduate of Clark College (now Clark Atlanta University) and Northwestern University, shared the same undergraduate communications majors’ experiences. At that time, Clark was the home of the mass communications students in the Atlanta University Center. The AUC is the nation’s largest consortium of historically black colleges and universities in the United States. Spike and I also shared a love of producing short, student films and videos and were among the approximate ten students who founded the AUC Newsreel under the watchful leadership of our favorite film professor, Dr. Herbert Eichelberger. The youtube feature about the AUC Newsreel is contained within the tribute by another founder, George Folkes.

Youtube image courtesy of Gentle George Folkes, “A Salute to Dr. E” Dec. 2, 2013

Shifting into high gear: Graduate education

Although Spike and I today appear ‘oh-so-smart’ by graduating from our respective top graduate schools, I moved ahead while often wondering why Dr. James’ recommendation was a better a better option than my-grand and totally uninformed plan to pursue an immediate career in journalism?

Here’s my remarks as a “thought leader” who was asked to share my thoughts about graduate school for communications majors. It was recorded by the National Association of Broadcasters Educational Foundation during the largest annual confab of the broadcast industry.

Since I graduated from Medill nearly 40 years ago, it is helpful to get an update on what the complex media industry has in store for today’s and recent grads of communication schools. Here’s a podcast with Gen Z views as captured during a November 2019 broadcast industry meeting in Texas:

Tip #3: Attending graduate schools based on its prestige?

The short answer is yes and no to whether one should attend a graduate school based on its prominence and views in the marketplace.

Tip #4: Determine if the investment will pay off

It’s safe to reveal that the cost of attaining my degree from Northwestern University some 40 years ago is approximately $30,000 less than what it would cost today. Although inflation and the CPI show marked increases in the financing of a graduate education, here are my recommendations. Yet, today, lots of the major universities have the means to finance one’s education in full or in part.

  • Consider whether your undergrad degree will “hold up” in the present marketplace. If not, consider graduate education or beneficial certificate programs.
  • Plan ahead. Begin to research the graduate school scholarships and grants of which there are plenty. Yet, it requires skilled research skills and networking to achieve desired educational goals.
  • Consider graduate schools that offer tuition assistance and/or those institutions willing to pay the full cost — tuition, fees, housing.
  • Consider working in a higher-than-average job while matriculating in graduate school.
  • Be selective in your graduate degree choice. Often, students in communications will inform me that they wish to attain a MBA degree. I hold a DBA and still I ask whether they wish to gain a master’s degree or a MBA? Their answers illustrate a bigger issue of students not necessarily researching the degree to assist in bright careers.

It is important to reiterate that graduate education is not for everyone. Yet, in one of my typical examples to undergraduate students who wish to specialize in digital media areas such as sports journalism, seek out graduate programs that can advance you into their desired positions.

“Trust no one”

Those words often uttered in the successful “Game of Thrones” HBO series were first crafted by my fellow alum of undergraduate and graduate degrees. That’s right, George R. R. Martin is a dual degree recipient of degrees from Northwestern University. The interpretation of the phrase — “trust no one” — was often uttered among journalism students inside of Fisk Hall. Fisk Hall is the home building of the Medill School in Evanston, Ill. It’s interpretation meant to always complete research on subjects before acting on it.

Photo by Gerd Altmann on

Ann Wead Kimbrough, DBA is a thought leader, professional journalist, university professor, former government senior official, blogger and author.
She teaches students how to professionally blog, develop podcasts, write with clarity and context and manage large, live events. Ann earned a Doctor of Business Administration degree, International Business, Argosy University; a MS degree specializing in financial journalism, NU Medill School of Journalism; and a BA degree from Clark Atlanta University. website:; Twitter: @ConnectMom

Class in session 8/26-29/2019: Students’ observation/field reporting assignment is a Scavenger Hunt in Cascades Park, Smokey Hollow

Welcome back students!

My RWII classes are learning the power and importance of observation, note taking and more. It’s the baby steps to becoming field producers, researchers and expert writers.

  • Every image in this blog is included in your scavenger hunt.
  • Locate at least five of the images.
  • Indicate location, time and date of photo, location’s historical and/or current significance to the community, who accompanied you on this scavenger hunt and who also discovered the spot.
  • Take a photo of yourself and others (if applicable) from a different angle.
  • Write a caption using AP style, good grammar and suitable for social media usage.
  • I will tell you in class where to send your work.
  • Due: Wed., Aug. 28 and Thurs., Aug. 29.
  • Remember to “R-E-A-P” with creativity: Read, Engage, Attend, Punctuality.
  • Winners announced week of Sept. 3.

All other readers of this blog may participate and share (after 2 p.m., Thurs., Aug. 29) with our class via this blog.

Slug: Scavenger Hunt/Field Producing

The only hint is: The photographers were taken along one of my morning walking routes in Tallahassee, FL or is it Fla. students?

Want to become an expert field producer, multimedia researcher, producer, writer and more? It starts now!

Update: FAMU Alumna Keta Browning credits her alma mater for “natural” passion in successful business start up

Keta Browning answers students’ queries
Film and still photography crews captured Browning’s presentation

July 15, 2019, Tallahassee, Fla. — It’s 3:20 p.m. on a hot summer day and Keta Browning is cool as a cucumber while answering individual questions from students whose class ended a half hour earlier. Browning was gaining energy ftom every student as she distributed fragrant samples from her Natural Oats Co. assortment of homemade soaps, body scrubs, oils and more health and beauty goodies.

She just completed a nearly two-hour marathon of sharing her story and fielding questions from broadcast journalism students during their news conference. The weekly news briefings feature alumni who are standouts in their fields.

Here are some highlights ftom her talk. Sudents are writing news stories as partial fulfillment of their grades’ requirements;

  • She started her business in August 2019 with $300.
  • She credits the faculty, staff and students of the FAMU School of Journalism & Graphic Communication for teaching and encouraging her in all areas that she utilizes in Natural Oats.
  • Her musician father planted the seeds for her love of radio and entrepreneurship.
  • She continues to make every product in her cookware and produce all designs, labels and packaging.
  • She was in business only five months when she landed a coup by being featured in an upscale magazine with a two-page spread.
  • Every picture in her social media messaging is a Keta production.

“I am so grateful for what FAMU taught me … juggling,” she says.

For more on Browning, check out the variety of social media posts by journalism students. https://www.instagram/ketaleigh/ #classactssjgc2019

Earlier today: Keta Browning used to dominate the local and streaming radio waves with her show on WANM-FM. She delivered informative content in a distinctively crisp and smooth style. She earned a reputation for smartly questioning guests of the station’s sports and news shows.

Today, she is making record-setting waves on the other side of the microphone as an entrepreneur who put her passion into play and launched Natural Oats Co., an Ocala-based, upscale health and beauty products company. The young alumna of Florida A&M University will make her first official trip “home” to the School of Journalism & Graphic Communication since her company’s launch in 2017.

Browning is not coming to campus empty-handed: She will award the top two FAMU SJGC student winners in the Natural Oats’ social media contest. Last week, Browning sent the students enrolled in Dr. Ann Wead Kimbrough’s course, a social media challenge that was due at 11:59 p.m., Sunday, July 14. Browning said since she began her career as a social media analyst, it is fitting to incorporate her expertise into her presentation.

Browning is a guest of digital storytelling students as part of their summer series of weekly news conferences to build their reporting and writing skills.

Before launching Natural Oats, the FAMU student Browning was cast into the orbit of SiriusXM Radio as a host on its HBCU Channel 142. The SiriusXM show, FAMU Now!, was launched in 2015 as a student and alumni -produced, 30-minute show. As as inaugural member of the expert FAMU Now! radio team, Browning gained recognition for her reporting and delivery of feature shows. #classactssjgc2019

Once featured on student radio, now featured in magazines: Natural Oats Co. founder Keta Browning

Rise above it …

My sister, Melissa, has accomplished great things in her stellar career as a Conceirge for a large, luxury hotel in Chicago. She is among the few African Americans to earn membership in Les Clefs ‘Or (pronounced “lay clay door”), a national association of hotel lobby concierges who have achieved excellence in service to all. There are approximately 10,000 concierges around the world and 4,000 achieved the Les Clefs ‘Or status. You can distinguish Les Clefs ‘Or from other concierges by the crossed gold keys on their lapels.

She has served celebrities, CEO, young and older, the ‘have nots’ and more in her professional and volunteer roles.

She easily speaks to so-called strangers and the most difficult folk are just crying out for her specialized customer service.

Yet, being on stage or speaking in front of an audience of any size, was something Melissa could not imagine doing.

That is, until Monday evening at Chicago’s Annonyance Theater stage.

She debuted with her improv class in a hilarious set. Her husband, Hiram, and I were smiling and laughing and clapping. In our hearts, we were and remain immensely proud.

What put an accent point on her performance was when a fan spotted Melissa in a restaurant right after the show. She, too, debuted on stage that evening in a different troupe. She told my sister that Melissa brought a calming, confident presence on stage. Bravo!

She did it!

Step out of your comfort zones and do something that gives you joy while conquering a “fear.”Your career and personal lives will be better for it.

Congrats, Melissa. You earned your wings. Now fly!

Ann L. Wead Kimbrough is an accomplished educator, award-winning financial journalist, author, special events leader, mentor and prolific contributor to select global and domestic non-profit causes. Her blog topics include travel, history, humor, education, career, family, journalism and ‘thought you should know’ subjects.