A Charles Sturt University sports journalism graduate who comes from Port Macquarie has been awarded a University Medal and already works in the industry he enjoys.
Mr Blake Johnson graduated with a Bachelor of Sports Media, now offered as the Bachelor of Communication (with specialisations)) in the Charles Sturt School of Information and Communication Studies. His award was conferred when he graduated with more than 3,200 Charles Sturt graduates on Friday 3 December.
The University Medal was awarded to only 32 December graduates and is the highest honour that a student can receive. To be awarded a University Medal, a student has to achieve High Distinctions (HDs) in nearly all their subjects and if a student receives all HDs they will receive a Grade Point Average (GPA) of seven.
“It’s cool to have the work that I put in acknowledged with a University Medal,” Blake said. “I don’t usually share much about what I’ve done but after three years of knuckling down it’s nice to take a second to sum up that achievement.”
Blake grew up in Port Macquarie where he attended Mackillop College, and after trying veterinary science at another university switched to media studies online with Charles Sturt in Bathurst while living in Sydney.
He initially thought that after high school he wanted to work with animals but soon came to realise that doing so – particularly in a clinical sense - would ruin the enjoyment of it all.
“With that out of the picture, I decided to go in the sport direction as that was my next biggest interest and after studying that area for a year or so and discovering that my fondness for sport was still just as strong, I stuck with it,” Blake said.
“I’ve also been a long-time fan and participant of a fair few sports so that helped grow my interest in it. Interestingly, although I’ve never played basketball, it quickly became my favourite thing to watch, and I really enjoy the hype surrounding its media content.
“I became invested in it around the same time I was making my decision on what to study next, so perhaps that drove a fair chunk of my curiosity in the degree.”
Reflecting on the challenges of studying during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns, Blake said obviously COVID was challenging for everyone.
“Though working online was already familiar to me, it did make having a work-life balance difficult confined to our little shoe-box in Sydney,” he said.
“I think having my girlfriend there who was going through the same situation with her studies helped a lot, and we kind of kept each other on task. Plus, there wasn’t much else to do.
“It was also challenging working online and not having the same connection with students I’d become familiar with throughout high school, and also in my first year of uni in Sydney. It just encouraged me to be more independent.”
Blake said study at Charles Sturt prepared him for the industry he now works in because it provided a good balance between practical experience as well as a reflection on the industry landscape and what’s gone wrong in the past.
“While practice with the tools is necessary to work in the media industry, learning about how to work mindfully was really valuable,” Blake said.
“The work placements also gave me an idea of what to expect, and in fact, I’m now working with the business where I conducted my uni work placement.”
Now that he’s graduated Blake is currently working remotely in Port Macquarie as a video editor for an online sports site that deals in editorial and opinion-based stories.
“We do live coverage work, as well as news-based video packages,” he said.
“I want to continue working in a visually-orientated media field as I’ve always been rather creative, and I hope to share content that reflects that and hopefully gets other people to appreciate that.”
Now that he has graduated, Blake said it is quite a relief and looks forward to his formal graduation ceremony in 2022.
“While I enjoyed my studies, I’m ready to go on to something else now,” he said.
“I think graduation ceremonies are important to help us step back and capture what you’ve achieved over a significant portion of your life.
“We’re always moving on to the next thing so quickly and without something like a graduation that forces you to appreciate what you’ve done, the moments kind of bleed into each other.
“While I personally have never been one to make a fuss about these sorts of things, my family are pretty keen on attending a re-scheduled graduation next year.”
Blake’s advice for prospective students considering tertiary study?
“Don’t look at Charles Sturt University as just a place where you learn academic information,” he said. “The vast majority of what is taught is geared toward real-life experience and careers. It’s worth your time.”