When she graduated from Clark Atlanta University with her Bachelor’s degree in Communications, she was the first person in her family to graduate from an Historically Black University. “While walking across the stage, I felt that I was not only taking that stride for my future legacy, my daughter who would later go on to graduate from Clark Atlanta University, but for all of my community who wished that they had the same opportunity to receive an education from such an excellent institution. It was one of the proudest moments of my life, but I knew that I was just getting started on my life journey,” stated Dr. Odum-Hinmon. Following her undergraduate experience, she went on to receive a Master’s Degree in Journalism from Columbia University in New York. Once she obtained her Master’s degree from Columbia University, she returned to her hometown of Atlanta, GA as a professional reporter at the AJC and later returned to school at University of Maryland at College Park to receive her Ph.D. in Journalism and Public Communication to become a part-time professor at Kennesaw State University in the School of Communication and Media.
Dr. Odum-Hinmon enrolled at Clark Atlanta University to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communication.“I was drawn to the field of journalism because my favorite subject was English, and teachers always told me that I was a great writer,” Dr. Odum-Hinmon said. “My parents read the newspaper and watched television news every day when I was growing up, which made me think the news was vital to staying abreast of what was happening in the community and world around us.”
“As junior year approached, I questioned what it was I wanted to do next,” says Dr. Odum-Hinmon. A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. Odum-Hinmon felt the mainstream news did not always accurately represent the African American community of which she was part of.
“It was not until my HBCU educational journey that I realized that there needed to be more Black journalists covering the news and making editorial decisions in order for it to accurately reflect the breadth of the African American community and the Black experience,” Dr. Odum-Hinmon remembers. In junior and senior years in college, she began an internship at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the start of her career journey in giving a voice to often-silenced communities. Dr. Odum-Hinmon excelled during her undergraduate years, winning the Best in Print Journalism Award and becoming Valedictorian of her graduating class.
Following her undergraduate experience, she went on to receive a Master’s Degree in Journalism from Columbia University in New York. “Columbia University is an Ivy League filled with prestige and opportunity because of the wide network it provides. I chose Columbia University because I would be able to learn more about journalism among the nation’s top future leaders, and how to use journalism to help further advance my community,” explains Dr. Odum-Hinmon. “However, I never lost sight of the impact of my HBCU education and used my experiences to give equal representation. It was my HBCU that took a chance on me, developed me into the leader I am and allowed me to aim higher so that I could have the opportunities I was offered” clarifies Dr. Odum-Hinmon.
“Currently, teaching future generations to be fair and impartial journalists is something I enjoy doing,” Dr. Odum-Hinmon said. “In today’s world, the art of unbiased journalism has to be taught to those who will be imparting the news.” Dr. Maria Odum-Hinmon is currently a part-time professor at Kennesaw State University in the School of Communication and Media, where she has taught courses in Writing for Public Communication and News Writing and Reporting.