Question: What does Florida Atlantic University alumna Markella Haynes ’14 have in common with the television character Jack Bauer?
Answer: Markella and Jack have both demonstrated the ability to accomplish more than a few things in “24” hours.
Just two months after her graduation from FAU, Markella holds the title of assignment editor and associate producer at WPTV Newschannel 5 in West Palm Beach. She attributes her early career success to three things: the support of her family, her experience as part of FAU’s Communication Learning Community, and the ability to navigate several hectic days.
During her senior year at FAU, Markella’s alarm would ring at 2:30 a.m. so that she could work a part-time job from 4 a.m. until noon at WPTV. Her shift would be followed by a quick lunch and, if lucky, an hour of sleep. Then it was off to the Boca Raton campus or even a drive to Davie for classes through the early evening. A long drive home to Boynton Beach and attention to her schoolwork would complete the whirlwind day.
“It was a hard senior year,” said Markella. “Driving from West Palm to Davie, I sometimes wouldn’t even have time to eat or sleep. I worked five days a week. It was sometimes hard to complete class assignments because my schedule would conflict with the free time of other students.
“But it was all worth it. If you told me on my first day of college that I would be working a full-time job at a news station less than a month after graduation, I would have thought it was a joke.”
Markella’s hard work has paid immediate dividends, as she recently celebrated her one-month anniversary as a WPTV assignment editor. In the role, she is responsible for determining the stories that need to be covered and choosing which reporters will get each assignment. It’s a constant battle with the deadlines and breaking stories in today’s 24-7 news cycle. She will soon start training for associate producer responsibilities, which include several elements of the on-air broadcasts.
And these are jobs that are rarely held by a 22 year old only a few months removed from receiving a college diploma, even for those who leave school with a degree in multimedia journalism following internships at Clear Channel and WPTV.
“There is something new every day and you start to think differently … looking at day-to-day activities as news stories and how they can be told our to our various audiences,” she added.
Her current job is a position Markella has trained for since she was a child. As early as fifth grade, she was making announcements on her school’s loudspeaker and anchoring “broadcasts” with her best friends while working toward a career in the media. Convinced by her parents she could accomplish anything she desired, years later Markella became the first member of her family to attend college, a confusing venture into the world of financial aid, class responsibilities, new friends and navigating a large campus environment.
As a freshman, Markella joined a Communication Learning Community. FAU’s Learning Community program has been in existence for more than 10 years, helping students connect with peers who share similar interests. Markella credits her “community” for providing the confidence she needed to get her career started. She was able to network with other students, learn about different media programs on campus and share ideas and experiences with those interested in the same subjects.
After one semester she signed on to be a Learning Community student mentor to help guide new freshmen during their transition into FAU life.
“Not only did I make true friends and feel a tight, personal bond with FAU, but I learned so much about how to be a leader, make my own choices and how to inspire others to do the same,” said Markella. “I owe much of what I gained from working with others and being a leader to the Learning Community program.”
Markella’s days are a little less hectic than her senior year at FAU, although the media field is perfect for someone with her ability to juggle many tasks. Spending 12-hour days in a bustling newsroom tends to prevent much in the way of quiet time.
However, when there is a moment to relax in the warmth of South Florida, Markella likes to pull up a few TV shows on Netflix. And there is no doubting one of her favorites … Jack Bauer saving the world on “24” touches close to home.Learning Communities are a partnership between the Department of Housing and Residential Life and the Center for Learning and Student Success. To apply, or for more information, visit www.fau.edu/learningcommunity or call 561-297-0906.