Journalism senior gains experience at university newspaper, reports at State Capitol
By Andrew Osegi
Kolten Parker, senior at Texas State University, has worked hard to get where he is today.
Parker, 23, was born and raised in Stephenville, Texas, a city where dairy rules yet high school football is king. After graduating high school, Parker decided to stay close to home and pursue his first two years of higher education at Tarleton State University; however, he soon discovered a change of scenery was overdue.
“Tarleton felt a lot like high school,” Parker said. “So I chose Texas State to experience something new and to escape the humdrum feel of home.”
Majoring in journalism with a minor in sociology, Parker came to Texas State in 2010 and was determined to be an active, committed student — with some persuasive advice from his mother: “Get involved or go home!”
Parker soon received an e-mail reading “now hiring” from the university’s student-run newspaper, the University Star. With little journalistic experience, Parker applied, impressed the editor with his writing, and was eventually hired as a news reporter.
“Reporting came naturally to me,” says Parker. “The job gave me an avenue to experience interesting people, places and events that otherwise would have been inaccessible.”
Parker’s time at the Star was well spent. He published several stories, including a couple of award-winning features that gained recognition from The Texas Intercollegiate Press Association (TIPA) and The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ). Teachers and fellow students found Parker’s work outstanding from the rest.
“People around campus would come up to me and say, ‘Hey man, great article,’” Parker said. “It felt great to be acknowledged as a writer, so I feel the Star opened up a lot of opportunity for me.”
Today, Parker uses what he learned at the University Star to work as a reporter covering politics for the San Antonio Express-News and the Houston Chronicle (a shared bureau) in Austin. From the state Capitol, he reports and live-tweets newsworthy aspects of the Texas government.
Parker is one of the youngest reporters covering Texas politics, but he feels that his younger outlook on the subjects he covers provides a fresh perspective for his audience.
“When I first started, I hated being the youngest ‘kid’ reporter at the Capitol,” says Parker. “But now, I’ve stepped up and claimed that title. I capture the intricacies of Texas legislation and channel my stories through a lens my audience — and my generation — can relate to.”
Parker’s most memorable opportunity in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Texas State was working with Jose Villa, a local resident who was born without arms in Mexico. Parker describes Villa as a hardworking, determined individual who inspired him early in his journalistic career.
“Meeting Jose was an amazing experience,” says Parker. “He wrote — with his feet — a short statement on my notepad the first day I met him: ‘If I can do it, so can you.’ I still have that note today.”
Parker looks forwards to continuing his work with the Express-News and hopes one day to get involved in music, video production or national political coverage. Aspirations unhindered, he expects to graduate December 2013.
Keep up with Parker’s coverage by following @KoltenParker on twitter.