Jessica Childs was behind the camera for all major events as a student at Henderson, and her years of experience recently landed her a job as the assistant news director for KTUL Channel 8 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in October.
When did you graduate, and what was your major?
I graduated from Henderson in 2007 with a major in Mass Communication and a minor in Communication.
Why did you choose Henderson?
I was looking for options outside of UCA because I went to high school in Conway, and my aunt, Catherine Watson (‘98, ‘01), told me about going to Henderson. After visiting the campus, it felt like the right place for me.
Who were your favorite professors?
Dr. Ron Addington and Mike Taylor. Dr. Addington is the reason I chose Communication. I first went to school with a focus on pre-med, but found I wasn’t the best at studying in college as I was in high school. With Communication being a requirement course to take, I had Dr. Addington as my professor. As much as I did not enjoy talking in front of the class, he thought I would be great doing it. Mike Taylor helped me discover the many mediums of Mass Communication, and after exploring radio, newspaper and television, I decided that television was the best fit for me.
What is your current occupation?
I’m an assistant news director for KTUL Channel 8 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
How did Henderson prepare you for your career?
Interning was a requirement for Mass Communication, and I interned at KATV Channel 7 in Little Rock. Because of that internship, I was able to learn more about how news works in the real world and what I learned and the work I did at that station over the summer got me a job as an associate producer after I graduated. For the next 13 years, I continued to work my way through the news station as a producer and executive producer. Now, I’m in my third week in a new position as an assistant news director and I’m excited to see where this takes me. I also have to credit taking part in the Student Activities Board. Being able to be a part of bringing activities to students on campus was fun to me. Handling the logistics and even creating events like Henderson Idol I found very fun and was able to carry creative and building programs into my career as a news producer.
What is your favorite memory of Henderson?
My favorite memories of Henderson are the friends I made, many I am still close to to this day. Some of the best memories come from being a resident assistant at Smith Hall. Working with six other awesome ladies and getting to know the residences was so much fun.
When was the last time you were on Henderson’s campus?
The last time I was on campus was for work in 2016 when we were covering the Battle of the Ravine for KATV Channel 7’s Daybreak morning show. It was a very early cold morning. Not work-related, the last time I was on campus was for a homecoming game in 2014 to catch up with some friends.
What other job do you think you’d be really good at?
I think I would do an excellent job in public relations. That career is a good alternative to communications.
How do you relax after a hard day?
To relax after a hard day, I usually take my mind off of everything by watching television. Shows that don’t require too much thinking or focus. TV sitcoms like One Day At A Time or re-watching Community or New Girl. I also enjoy reality TV like The Bachelor/Bachelorette, The Amazing Race, and Big Brother.
Who do you admire the most, and why?
My best friend Tabitha Scott. She was my first friend at Henderson, and we are still close. I admire her because she started her own business in marketing about a year ago, which has been a dream of hers, and she has been succeeding and her business is continuing to grow. I’ve always admired her drive in everything she does. She has also been a great cheerleader for me when I need some encouragement throughout my career.
What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
Road trip. One where you don’t necessarily have a plan other than where you are going. I did that once with a college friend. We traveled from Arkansas to Tennessee to Indiana to Illinois to Missouri and back to Arkansas in a week. We had key cities we wanted to visit and did, but played everything else by ear. It was a quick seven days, but very memorable.
What’s the hardest lesson you learned?
That this world is full of challenges as a journalist and thick skin is needed. Some people will comment on social media, send emails, or call to criticize how you are doing your job. You can feel like your character is being attacked at times, but you have to continue doing your job with the confidence of knowing that what you are reporting is fair and balanced. If I wasn’t able to handle that I would not still be in this field.
What are three interesting facts about you?
1. I’ve once met Gene Wilder and Robin Roberts. 2. I got to see Hamilton The Musical in Chicago, and it was amazing. 3. My height got my friend and I backstage to see Fall Out Boy perform during The Warped Tour.
If your life was a book, what would its title be?
Above Average (being that I am so tall)
If you could make one rule that everyone had to follow, what would it be?
I would make a rule that no one is allowed to post a spoiler on social media pages of a new television show for at least 48 hours. I think it is especially fitting for the streaming services that release an entire series at once.
How did the Coronavirus outbreak change the way your daily or professional life?
News never stops, even in the midst of a pandemic. We have had to adjust with how we work; many people work from home to produce a show, and reporters and photographers work in the field. Only those who need to come into the news stations, like the production crew, are allowed in the building, and even then we are socially distanced. We rely heavily on communicating through video conferencing and emails and it has helped.