My Passion Blog: my 24th birthday

Hi Blog world,

Today is my 24th birthday. This day has been so special. I got a call early from my grandparents to wish me a great day. After breakfast, I went to my mailbox and I got birthday cards from both my grandparents. Then when I got back to my dorm, my best friend and I hung out.

My classes also went well. We went on a hike. I got to see an eagle; it was so pretty. I was a little nervous about my hike because I was worried about falling, but my friends were there to help me out, and also a little teasing didn’t hurt either.

Taking a walk on the Nature Trail

Lunch was good too, I had soup and salad which is one of my favorites.

Soon, it was dinner time, some my friends from my hall and I went out to dinner, but before that, three of my friends did my hair and makeup. I looked awesome, and I feel really special. Dinner was tasty. I had a burger and fries. yum! I also had some cake. Little did I know that there was a surprise waiting for me at my dorm. There was chocolate cake! Everyone also sang “Happy Birthday”

My birthday dinner

I would like to take this time to thank my South Side Family for making this day so special. I love you guys!

I would also like to take this time to thank the people, who gave me a chance at life 24 years ago, Thank you NICU staff, Doctors, and Nurses, without you I would not be here today.

Thank you for a great day,

Blog  soon,

Amanda Gene

My Passion Blog: Walking into the darkness

Hi Blog world,

Well, for the past two O and M lessons, my teacher has been taking me around campus at night with my eyes closed, yep, no cheating my eyes closed. This is because of my night blindness (

The first time she took me out we went all the way from my dorm down to the cafeteria. This lesson proved to both of us that even though I do great in the day time with my skills I really don’t have a grip on them at night. (

It’s going to take lots of practice and training for me to get my confidence. This is important for me because when I become a reporter I will have to go out on any assignment that my editor gives me. I can’t say, “um, I can’t because I can’t see well.” Nope! I am going to learn these skills.

The second time she took me out we went from my dorm to a classroom that I had never been in before. The reason we did this was to show me how to explore a new environment with my cane.

While I was in there I found out what it’s like for a blind person to be pulled and pushed. It hurts! Please click on this link to find out more about how to use the Sighted Guide Techniques. (

Blog soon,

Amanda Gene


Jessica and Diesel: the freedom continues

Jessica Woods is an amazing person who continues to inspire any person she comes in contact with.

Woods was born legally blind due to an eye condition called Coloboma. This eye condition is caused Woods’ retina to be deformed and her octave nerve to be damaged.

At the age of eight, the retina in Woods’ right eye detached and surgery was performed to reattach it. This surgery did not work. There was another surgery that was performed to try to fix the surgery from last time.

This time the surgery worked and Woods regained some sight. From this point on, Woods slowly began to lose the regained sight that she had.

By the age of 17 the eye condition took her sight completely.

Raising someone who is legally blind and then going blind at the age of 17 was.

“An Adventure,” said Pam Woods, who is Jessica Woods’ mother, “There were challenges in the school systems, trying to get her an education. Watching her struggle, I guess you can say we celebrated when she succeeded, we cried along with her when she didn’t but it was an adventure.”

From the time she was little, she was in Orientation and Mobility Training.   She was given her first cane when she was seven years old, and she would continue to use this cane for the next 12 years.

Many people with perfect sight really take for granted what it means to walk independently; but when you are blind, being able to walk independently really is a miracle.  At the age of 19, Woods knew it was time for her to have that independence and freedom just like any other person, so she applied for her first guide dog.

Her first guide dog was a yellow Golden Retriever /Labrador mix named Bristol. Woods had to go through a month long training process before she could bring Bristol home.

During this training process, she was taught how to work with Bristol while he was in and out of harness.  The training was well worth it all. They worked together as a team for five years.

But sadly, last year, Bristol started showing signs that he didn’t want to work anymore.  Woods thought it was time to retire Bristol, and was ready to do so, until, one night he developed a severe nose bleed. Woods took him to the vet the next day and sadly, the news was not good, Bristol had cancer.  Last summer, Bristol peacefully died in Woods’ arms when he was put to sleep.

Woods knew it was time to get another guide dog. She and Bristol made such a great team that she decided to go back to Bristol’s school for her next dog.  But, after her application was completed, she was put onto a waiting list and told that there was not a good match for her. Since she was starting her next year of college in August, she approached the Pilot Dogs, Inc.  She told them about her situation and that she would need a new dog to help her live independently on campus.

A month later, she got the phone call she had anxiously been waiting for.  The school had a match for her.  For Woods, this was a new adventure because she had to leave her family behind and she had to fly to Columbus, Ohio, to receive and train with her new dog.

Her freedom and independence would continue with a two year old black Labrador, named Diesel.  Since Woods was in a different city, she received a different kind of training than she had received with her first guide dog.

“I got more city training in Columbus, Ohio, than at the previous school, which was more of a small town, which I found very beneficial,” said Jessica Woods.

She returned home and to her dorm mates at her school.  Once at her school, she had to teach guide dog etiquette to her dorm mates.

“No, I had no idea until they came here, “said Grace Eadie, who is a member of the residence hall were Woods and Diesel live, “I thought that you could just play with the dog and really you can’t do that.”

Many of Jessica’s dorm mates feel happy that Diesel is around to help her.

” I feel that Jessica is very lucky to have Diesel,” said Ashlee Ballew, “I am glad that Jessica has the extra help. She is a very sweet girl and Diesel seems to help her out a lot.”

Many of Jessica’s friends have seen her grow with Diesel, who is still a young puppy.

“It’s very interesting because I knew Jessica when she had Bristol and they were a pretty good team,” said Becca Hill who is a friend of Jessica and Diesel in an interview, “and then she got Diesel who is very hyper, and it’s kind of like the opposite of Bristol, but it’s pretty cool watching them learn and watching Diesel mature. “

Jessica and Diesel: The freedom continues




About me: a letter about my disabilities

Hi Blog world,

Well, I tweeted and asked a question on Facebook for you readers and subscribers about what you wanted me to blog about, and you answered. So here I go. A letter about my disabilities.

I was born 28 weeks gestation, 12 weeks premature, weighing only one pound five ounces and I was only 12 inches long. Because I was so small and sick, I was put on support to help keep me alive. The doctors were not sure if I would make it or what kind of life I would have if I did survive in fact, I was only given a five percent chance of making it. With the prayers of people in the community, the love and support from my parents,  the medical training from my doctors, and very powerful technologies of the late 80’s I made it! But, not without a price, the doctors had to give me high doses of oxygen and that made my eyes very sick. I have a rare eye condition called congenital Nystagmus. This condition is caused by a part of my eye, called the macula, to be under developed and  this causes my eye muscle to bounce and move around. I also have mild Cerebral Palsy (CP), this causes me to have pain when I write for a long time. When I was a young girl, I had to have physical therapy and Occupational therapy. This helped me learn how to walk and write. The doctors don’t know why I have CP but they do know that I had  a small brain bleed when I was three days old.

When I was in 2nd grade I was diagnosed with a learning disability called dyslexia. This learning disability makes reading and writing hard for me.   It was also during my elementary years that I was taught learning strategies  to help me read, but I was  not taught to spell. I spell the way I think words are heard, and I also sometimes think in Pictures, when my Journalism law teacher says constitution I spell it “contstion” and I think of a picture of the constitution.   It is important for me to read my writing, and tests papers out loud whenever possible. This helps me understand my writing and understand what is being asked during a test.  To learn more about my life with Dyslexia, click here

Because of these problems, I was  placed  into the Special Education Program called Exceptional  Student Education (ESE). In my early elementary years, my ESE teachers were not very helpful, and they used to say, ‘you will not get anywhere in life.”  It was like they didn’t care.
By the time I was in high school, my teachers were very helpful and they worked with me.   I was still in the ESE program until I was  in 10th grade, during that time,  I made the choice that I didn’t want a Special Education diploma and that I wanted to go to college.  The head of the ESE department was against this choice that I had made and they told me to forget the whole idea. But the teachers that were behind me helped me fight against the people who told me no. My education was so important to me.  I wasn’t going to give up without a fight.  It took me an extra year (three years total ) to get my regular diploma, but in May of 2008, I not only graduated with a regular diploma but with honors too.

In the Fall of 2008, I started my freshmen year at the local state college.  I had accommodations  to help me complete my work, but it still took me three years to get my AA degree because I struggled with math. But I didn’t quit.
Now I am a junior, and so far I am doing well.

Blog soon,

Amanda Gene

David Barstow’s 8 P.M. lecture

Hi Blog world,

Last night I went to the 8 P.M. lecture by David Barstow. He started out by telling us a story about how someone had an $80,000 contract on his life. He was worried about his safety. His paper that he was working for at the time sent out six ex-navy seals for protection. After a few days of being watched, he took his family to Disney for three days and the person who was threatening him, was prosecuted and sent to jail.

He talked about the freedom of information act and how as Journalist we are having a hard time getting the information that we need.  Many journalists now quit perusing the information rather than fight for the information that they need to write their stories.  Also there are so many people taking up Public Relations that Journalism is dying. But there is hope, because there are journalists in my generation fighting for the right to be good reporters.

During a short Question and Answer session after the lecture he gave students an opportunity to ask questions. One of those questions was:” How do students get a good career? ”  His answer was simple, “Find a good teacher, editor that will teach you about your mistakes and to let you know that it’s OK to make mistakes.” He also said to set goals for yourself.

Blog  soon,

Amanda Gene

David Barstow comes to Media Convergence class

Hi Blog world,

Today, I got an exciting opportunity.  A prize-winning journalist, David Barstow, came to our Media Convergence class.  I was a little nervous about what notes to take, however, once he started talking,  I took these notes and I felt like these topics were  important.

The journalism trade in general:

1. The journalism trade is changing, but we are in dire need more than ever.  He told us that we need to find out what kind of journalism skill we can do the best and stick to it. (Mine I believe is doing audio slide shows), he told us that it’s all about being a great story-teller and how to get the point across in the correct manner.  Also he told us to hold the values of journalism, to be fair, and tell the truth.

2. I also learned, and this has been a struggle for me, that everyone has to start at the bottom of the job field and they must work hard to get their way up to the head of the line.  It’s about proving what you can do and it’s about getting the trust of your boss: the editor.

3. It’s OK to learn from your mistakes, find an editor that will work with you and that they can help make you a better writer.

Being organized is important:

1. In the world of writing and journalism, a writer must be organized in every way possible. From gathering the facts, to being able to find a certain e-mail on a certain topic, being organized will help the story flow and help with your peace of mind.

2. “You must be committed to your work and get the editors on board with you.”   Being in the paper and not being in the paper can affect you personally, but when you give it your all and know at the end of the day that you did just that you will feel stronger than the day before.

3. Start your writing early, and keep an outline.

4.” Work your ways through your writing don’t get stuck, you can always come back to the problem spot latter.”

On finding the right job for you:

1.” Interview the editor of the paper that you want to work for while they are interviewing you.” (it’s OK to ask questions)

2. “be careful about your networking, it’s not about how many followers you have but who you know.”

3. ” it’s about getting the trust of your editor and producing great work, from there you will get noticed.”

Blog soon,

Amanda Gene

Friday Classes starting fall 2012

Many students enjoy having a three day weekend; however, starting fall 2012 Students may have to add another day in the classroom.

In a Senate Meeting on Dec. 2nd, 2011, President Judy Bense addressed the topic of adding Friday classes, and it was noted that it will help with parking problems and fee issues for the student.

“The University will resume holding classes in M-W-F time blocks beginning in fall of 2012,” said, coordinator academic support services advisor Joyce Southard,  in an e-mail interview. “Previously 60% of the University’s classes were required to be held in the M-W-F time block.  In response to rising gas prices in 2008, the University brainstormed on ways that would minimize the commute to campus for students.  One of the solutions implemented would be to offer classes on M-W instead of M-W-F, in the hopes of saving students an additional day of travel.  However, this tactic reduced classroom utilization on Fridays.  If the university is to successfully pursue funding for building more classrooms and buildings, state auditors must see that our classrooms are being utilized to their fullest extent. “

Some students are in favor of this change, while others are not.

“I think it’s a good thing. Said freshmen theater major Ashlee Ballew in a face to face interview on Tuesday, “I really feel like I get my money’s worth.”

“I do not like this change personally because I live in Navarre, and it takes me about 40 minutes to drive to UWF,” said Junior Journalist major Christiane Cloutier in an e-mail interview, “I like the schedule how it is because I only have to make the drive 2 times a week- which saves me money on gas.”

“I don’t like the change,” said Rebecca Hill, sophomore, “I would prefer to go to class for a longer period and go to the class less time of the week. I try to avoid Friday classes just in case I need to go home I can leave on Friday, but if classes are cut shorter and I have an extra day of classes, that limits my ability to go home when I would like to without having to worry about missing a class.”

Future Upper grad students are also not happy about the change in the schedule. “it seems odd that there are Monday, Wednesday, Friday classes but only Tuesday, Thursday classes, said Senior philosophy major, Jessica Woods, “ What’s the point of adding an additional Friday class?”

Some students and teachers are not going to be effected by the change.

“When you’re doing online classes Monday- Wednesday, Tuesday- Thursday; it doesn’t impact us, “said Kathy Heineken, Ph.D., who teaches field experience for teacher education in an interview, “We’re all online of course I haven’t heard that.”