SHEENA BARNETT: Still learning from former classmate

By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal

Picture it: Student Media Center, Bishop Hall, Ole Miss. 2005-2006. It buzzed with aspiring journalists: The staffs of The Daily Mississippian, Newswatch, Rebel Radio 92.1, The DM Online, The Ole Miss yearbook were all together in one little hive.
Normally I wouldn’t advise putting print and broadcast reporters that close together, but it wasn’t up to us.
We were all a part of the same newsroom, trying out this thing called convergence. We were supposed to work together, to prepare for jobs where we may be called to write a print story, film some B-roll or combine both for an online feature.
A newsroom full of so many young reporters, juggling a full-time SMC job with a full-time class schedule, was an interesting place to be more often than not.
We became a family, and we acted like a family: There were screaming matches and angry sighs, countless inside jokes and laughing fits, life-changing secrets and confessions exchanged, and a lot of growing up going on.
It’s seven years later and that group of us who worked, laughed, screamed at and lived with each other are scattered all over the world.
Many of us traveled nearby those old stomping grounds this weekend as we said goodbye to one of our own.
My friend and co-worker Jermaine Jackson died Jan. 18. He was 27.
Jermaine graduated from Ole Miss in 2008 with degrees in political science and journalism and then again in 2010 with a masters in higher education/student personnel.
When I worked with him in the SMC, he had a hand in just about everything, from the newspaper to the TV station to the yearbook.
He was a part of the Associated Student Body, the mock trial team, honor societies and also worked as a financial aid adviser and an IT associate.
I have a feeling I’m not even beginning to scratch the surface of everything he did, really.
Jermaine taught me what it meant to have a work ethic: He was at the SMC all the time, constantly working. He held himself and his co-workers to the highest standards and he was quick to let you know if you’d fallen short.
But it was that get-it-right-or-go-home attitude that made Jermaine such a success.
The rest of us, no matter where we are now and what we’re doing, are better for it and for knowing him.
I’m still learning from Jermaine, even in his passing. He’s taught me that family is always family, no matter how far away we travel or how much we’ve changed.
His death brought us back together, even if it was just online where we shared our memories of Jermaine and our times together at the SMC.
We’ll always be a family; there’s just a hole in our fabric now.
Rest in peace, Jermaine.
Sheena Barnett writes for the Daily Journal. Contact her at sheena.barnett@journalinc.com.