I guess we couldn’t get through too many profiles without getting to know the folks behind the scenes. Special thanks to journalist and friend Adam Causey for turning my questionnaire into this profile.
30, Alexandria, Va.
Most hated stereotype:
Our men are dangerous and our women are loose.
Writing and family have been at the core of Janelle’s life for as long as she can remember. While other kids played outside, she was sitting on a couch near her grandmother — a librarian — reading.
“Through the encouragement of her and my mother, I submitted a poem that was published in an anthology when I was in elementary school. My grandmother had a poem published in the same anthology,” Janelle says. “I feel like my writing life began with and flourished through her.”
The writing bug she caught as a youngster carried her into adulthood. After earning a bachelor’s degree in print journalism at Hampton University, Janelle spent seven years working as a reporter at newspapers in Ohio, Louisiana and Virginia. Topics she covered passionately included juvenile justice and local government.
At The Roanoke Times she organized a minority journalism workshop and spearheaded a multimedia project on the future of the NAACP in Southwest Virginia. The series won her a media award from the local branch.
But it was seeing her first article published in The Chillicothe Gazette in rural Ohio that makes her proudest.
“I’d always known I wanted to be a journalist and only went to college because I knew that was the route I had to take to accomplish that goal,” Janelle says. “So after four years of schooling that I didn’t really want to do, I quickly got a job at my first newspaper covering the beat I wanted (local government) and seeing my byline for the first time made me feel like I’d accomplished everything I set out to.”
Though her paycheck at the moment doesn’t come from newspapers, Janelle doesn’t rule out returning to journalism. But she plans to continue telling stories no matter what path she takes. She hopes to one day pen books.
“I believe telling stories can help in understanding other people, ourselves, society, issues…anything.”
A stereotype people have applied to you before:
There have been many. But most often it’s that I’m uneducated.
What do you consider your greatest strength?
I’m very open-minded and it helps me get through many situations. I don’t believe that anything in life is black or white. I understand that people are different, that tasks can be accomplished different ways, etc. and I think that’s the best way to experience life. I’m also pretty thrifty. I can find a sale/deal anywhere. Lol.
Most prized possession:
The relationships I have with my family. Like I said earlier, they’re my everything and without them I have no clue where I’d be.