Can you tell me a little bit about yourself? My name is WaTeasa Freeman. I am 22 years old, and I love writing, baking, and playing the Sims. My family and I moved to Columbus in 2006 and I grew up on the North Side. I attended Woodward Park Middle School and Fort Hayes High School. While in school, I played softball and was the president of the Poetry Slam Club.
Growing up, what did you want to be when you were older? As a child, my career goals changed often— most involved entertainment or education. I wanted to be an actress and a schoolteacher. I decided I wanted to pursue journalism my junior year of high school and I am very glad I chose this path.
You applied for, and received, numerous scholarships from funds at the Foundation. What did these scholarships mean to you? Each scholarship meant I had a fighting chance at success. I did not grow up wealthy, and I started off high school homeless, so knowing I had an opportunity to attend college was such a blessing. It also meant I had people who believed in me. Each donor I had a chance to meet reminded me of how successful I can be. These words became so powerful to me and helped keep me going on days that were hard. There are thousands of students who apply, and to be chosen meant I was representing not just myself but my donors. My scholarships also provided a comfort for my family. My mother was always worrying about how things would work out for us and The Columbus Foundation took away so much stress about my future.
The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
Where did you attend college and what did you major in? I attended Tennessee State University in Nashville, Tennessee. I majored in communications with a concentration in journalism and a minor in Africana studies. I graduated magna cum laude on May 1, 2021.
Were there people who inspired you or influenced you during your college career? Who helped you achieve your goal? One of my biggest inspirations was my younger sister. I wanted to show her that, despite the circumstances given to us, we can be successful. Dr. Arielle Vincent and Professor Karen Russell at Tennessee State were a major part of my college career. They both mentored me and even helped me get some of my first internships.
I could always count on them to guide me and help me improve as a writer. More than anything, my father was my driving force. He passed away in 2012 long before I entered college. He always told me I could do anything in this world, and I believed him. He did not have a high school diploma so every step I took I did to make him proud. My degree represents so many people other than myself. I understand you graduated this past spring.
What are you up to now—and what are your plans for the future? I currently work for the USA Today Network in Louisiana. I am the food and culture reporter in Lafayette, Louisiana. I moved here in August and I am so happy about it. In the future, I hope I can continue doing what I love and bring people meaningful news.