Kallie Cox: Look Back at The Lamp

Kallie Cox, Former Lamp Writer

I never expected to become a journalist. I spent my high school years working in a convent, and planned to join the military as a career. I was in the process of signing up to join the Air Force’s ROTC program when I started working for The Lamp, and it changed my life forever.

From the day I turned in my first article, I was hooked.

My time at The Lamp was spent investigating the school’s Title IX policies, spending hours in the paper’s cramped, windowless office, and cracking jokes with the newsroom staff. I worked alongside my best friend, Meredith Howard, and now we both work as professional journalists.

Our paper’s adviser, Tim McKenzie, always had a joke or some kind of sage advice to give us, and we probably wouldn’t have become journalists if it wasn’t for him.

Because of my time at The Lamp, I decided not to sign on with the Air Force and I changed my plans the last semester of my senior year of high school. Instead, I attended Southern Illinois University Carbondale to pursue a career in journalism. At SIU, I learned the importance of covering small communities and of the value of local news, and after three years at the Daily Egyptian, the school’s student paper, I began working professionally for the Southern Illinoisan.

In addition to my work at The Southern, I worked on two projects for the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. One focused on Police Accountability and was published with the Associated Press. It is a finalist for the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award. For the second project I went to the border to report on the issues impacting LGBTQ+ asylum seekers.

I now work as a Public Safety Reporter with The Charlotte Observer.

I have not regretted these decisions at all since, and I can’t imagine pursuing any other career. The Lamp helped make me the person I am today and I will remember my time there fondly.