Savannah State University’s assistant professor of multimedia journalism, faculty adviser for Tiger’s Roar, and this year’s Southern Regional Press Institute director Jessica Sparks will be leaving to pursue her doctorate degree at University of Florida at the end of this spring semester.
A few alumni of the department, JMC faculty members, and current students wanted to extend their congratulations and thanks to her for her contributions to their education at Savannah State University.
“Thank you, Professor Sparks, for aiming me to do Tiger’s Roar. I never thought I would be having this much fun in the organization nor be able to take part of a great team.” - Jasmine Freeman, sophomore
"Though I'm going to miss my colleague and office mate, I'm supremely happy and proud of you as you venture on your new endeavor to pursue your Ph.D. Your contributions to Tiger's Roar and the department has really moved our program and newspaper in a direction that allows it to contend with the best. Thank you, Jessica, for everything, and I wish you much success. Wherever you go, you'll be an asset to that program or media outlet."
“From the bottom of my heart I thank you for your never-ending support of the International Education Center. I appreciated your commitment to our study abroad program and being a superstar program manager. You sacrificed your summers and time with your own family to travel with our students and for that, I am grateful. I will miss you and your dedication to helping create the next generation of global leaders and critical thinkers. You are truly one of a kind! Good luck to you, and I will be excited to see how your next chapter unfolds. Thank you!” - Joline Keevy, assistant director of SSU’s International Education Center
"Professor Sparks, you are my colleague and more importantly, my friend. I will miss you, but I love the journey you are about to take in your career. Thank you for being you. I will see you soon." - Will Martin, professor
“Thank you for always putting students first, for always being willing to lend a hand, and for always being ready to listen. Go be the most Jessica Sparks in all the multiverse!!!” - Melanie Smith, study abroad coordinator
“Words cannot fully express how grateful I’ve been for the impact you’ve had on my life both professionally and at a personal level. Without your guidance, I wouldn’t be a journalist at all. You’ve pushed me hard and called me to a higher standard in so many ways. I know you will be successful in your upcoming adventure, and I couldn’t be more thrilled for you. The University of Florida is getting a gem.” - Danielle Birzer, senior
"I just wanted to take this moment to let you know how interesting it was working with someone like you, once as your supervisor and then as a colleague and to say goodbye. Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Others stay awhile, make footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same. While it pains me to bid you farewell as you start a new phase of your academic career, I sincerely wish you continued success in all your future endeavors. You’ve been so dependable, supportive, encouraging, and honest during your time here, helping our students and colleagues alike. Keep doing great things wherever you go. I wish you the best of luck and continued success wherever you may find yourself. Remember, out of sight should not be out of mind. Congratulations, and best of luck!” - Serajul Bhuiyan, Ph. D., professor
“I can’t believe this will be your last semester at Savannah State. You have been such a blessing to not only the students but the university as a whole. You’re the only professor I’ve connected and bonded with over the years, and you cared like I was your own. You were there for me when I felt like I couldn’t be there for myself. You never gave up on me, and you always told it like it was. For that, I’m forever grateful to you, Sparks. With tears filled in my eyes, I thank you, I appreciate you, I love you, and I can’t wait to hear about your new journey. I know you’re gonna kill it. To new beginnings!” - Mercedes Hobson, senior
“A few of my colleagues in Media Studies and I have joked about the fantastical cinematic representation of professors. You know, the ones yelling at their students as they leave the classroom, ‘Read chapter 22 and complete the writing assignment on Mesopotamian art collectives!’ They’re always so impossibly charismatic and incredibly intelligent, all while being beloved by students what with their roguish charm as an agitator against the system. No one could be that extraordinary, right? Except Professor Jessica Sparks is exactly THAT kind of educator. I’ve never met an academic who perfectly balances the tough-as-nails critic with empathetic den mother like her. She is a fireball of energy, a ass-kicker of renown, but expertly shepards earnest students to become amazing professionals in the field of journalism. We were lucky to have her, and I feel lucky to have worked with her. She will be missed.” - Theo Plothe, Ph.D., professor
“As if 2020 couldn’t get any harder, now Jessica Sparks is moving on to a Ph.D. program in Gainesville. The JMC department and SSU are really going to miss you. I wouldn’t be a journalist if it wasn’t for you, and sometimes I don’t know if I’d even have kept living if it wasn’t for you. Congratulations on entering the Ph.D program, and thank you for all you’ve done for me and the other students in JMC.” - Asha Gilbert, alumni
“Ms. Sparks masterfully blends the practical application of journalistic skills into her instruction. She genuinely seeks to help students see their potential.” - Vicki Brown, Ph.D., professor
“Thank you, Professor Sparks, for your professionalism and assistance in the planning of each Southern Regional Press institute during your tenure. Your year as director was both memorable and unique. You took the SRPI into new and innovative territories. You’re going to be missed, professor. Your contributions will be remembered and appreciated long after your departure, and your time here at SSU has been well spent.” - Reginald Franklin, professor
“Wow, I can’t believe you’re finally doing it! I knew the drive & passion in you couldn’t keep you away. Proud is such an understatement. I am extremely happy for you and eager to see you reap the benefits of all your hard work. Mrs. Sparks, without you I wouldn't have made it through my final year at SSU. You pushed me in ways that I HATED, uplifted me when I needed it the most & always saw the potential in me, even when I didn’t see it myself. We’ve had long talks, countless laughs and even cried together. I couldn’t have asked for a better professor. I can’t thank you enough for everything you did to mold me into the journalist I am today. I know this process will be long and vigorous but know it won’t stop you from earning those letters in front of your name. You got this Mrs. Sparks! I love you & wish you the best! Sincerely, your favorite student mom.” - Briana Dodd, alumni
“Thank you, Professor Sparks, for your valuable contribution to Tiger’s Roar and the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications. Thank you for being a great work partner as we pushed JMC forward and upward! Blessings always and best of luck!” - Juliana Trammel, Ph. D.
“Never would I have imagined that I would have taken up studies in mass communications journalism. When I first met you in the fall of 2018, I did my best to run from the idea of writing. I can't help but to sit back and laugh at the thought of being so scared of my own writing. To be completely honest, I am so happy that you are moving on to bigger and better things, but I am very sad to know that I will not have you as my practicum professor. I was looking forward to seeing you at my graduation and getting the chance to shake your hand after walking the stage. You may move to a different state and be part of a different institute, but I hope you know you'll always be a Savannah State Tiger. Make sure you leave us a paw print wherever you go, so we know our professor has already been here and paved a way. We are going to miss you in JMC, in Tigers Roar, and most importantly in the classroom. Thanks for motivating me, professor. Love and respect always” - JameCia Taylor, senior
“Professor Sparks is an impressive person, woman, educator and journalist. She is ferocious about what she believes in, and that is a trait anyone can admire. I wish her all the best.” - Terry Manning, technology coordinator
“Ms. Sparks inspired both journalism students and instructors to adapt and to be the best in a rapidly changing profession. Her students' performances in the field is ample testimony to a glowing legacy.” - Ben Bongang, professor
We wish you the best, Professor Sparks!
-The Tiger’s Roar Team