|Horbelt inspires UTM’s Class of 2011 |
|Posted: Friday, December 16, 2011 8:46 am |
Martin – Jennifer Horbelt, former WPSD Local 6 evening news anchor, had no problem identifying with her audience as she delivered the commencement address Saturday at the University of Tennessee at Martin.
Horbelt told how she is “making a leap, taking a risk” as she moves to a new position in an unfamiliar part of the country, a prospect likely facing many of the graduates in attendance at the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center.
Horbelt became a reporter with WPSD in Paducah, Ky., in 2007 while in her senior year at UT Martin. She earned the female evening anchor position at the station less than three years later, which she held until accepting a morning anchor position with KOAA-TV in Colorado Springs/Pueblo, Colo. Her last day at WPSD was Dec. 5 and she begins her new job Dec. 19.
“We’re not that different. You’re making that leap, too,” she told the graduates, adding, “You’re going out there in a really tough economy with the hopes of finding your place – your dream, passion, whatever you want to call it – and then to make it your career.”
Horbelt talked about her start in the TV news business and reminded graduates “it won’t always be easy” gaining the experience necessary for success.
“The first several months of my time at WPSD (were) spent either beating my head against the wall, crying or contemplating quitting … I got passed over for the hard-hitting stories because I was a rookie,” she said. But, she pursued her passion for news and, “Well, somehow, somehow I became the more experienced, the one with better contacts, the person others came to for guidance on how to write their stories.”
She credited her late father (who died in 2009), her former TV station and UT Martin faculty members for inspiration and guidance, both personally and professionally.
“I chose a great place to start my career and that was WPSD,” Horbelt said. “The people there really embraced my inexperience and made sure I was on the right path to success.
“I also chose a great place to prepare for a career (in) a very competitive field and that’s UT Martin. I still keep in close contact with my former professors. They keep me grounded and they make sure I’m always asking myself how I can do better in my craft.”
Horbelt also emphasized the importance of growing as a person and she credited her volunteer work as a “reading buddy” to an elementary school student for helping her to keep things in perspective. “He (the student) reminds me not take life or my job too seriously. And every time I visit him, I remember what it was like to be that age.”
She assured graduates that life beyond graduation “really isn’t all that bad,” adding, “You wouldn’t believe all the great things that are to come. I never imagined that I’d be where I am today, doing what I’m doing. But I’ve been open to opportunities, open to taking risks, and I had great preparation for that right here at UT Martin.”
UT President Joe DiPietro conferred degrees and UT Martin Chancellor Tom Rakes recognized graduates who represented 49 Tennessee counties, 13 states and eight nations.