“I was born to communicate,” says Braid (Sharp ’04) Blanks. “I can’t remember not expressing myself or having the desire to share with others and listen as they shared with me.”
Now, as news anchor of Abilene’s KTXS-TV, she communicates on a daily basis – and gets paid for it.
“It is always rewarding to hear people say they appreciate the effort that goes into telling a fair and balanced story,” Blanks says. “Knowing they recognize and appreciate that makes all the work, and sometimes frustration, worth it. Aside from that, it’s also rewarding to be able to tell friends and family in my hometown what’s going on around us.”
A challenging job
Her job with KTXS offers some challenges. In addition to anchoring the news, Blanks continues to write stories, edit video and train the news reporters.
“We are a small market station and have limited resources,” she says. “We can’t always devote the time and money to some of the stories that we cover, no matter how much we would like to. Manpower is stretched, which is frustrating.”
Immediately after graduating with honors from ACU in May 2004, Blanks took a position as a weekend anchor and reporter for the ABC affiliate in Tyler. After a year, she became the evening news anchor for Abilene’s KTXS TV. After three years, she became the marketing and public relations director for Texas State Technical College West Texas. Two and a half years later, she found herself once again as the news anchor for the 6 and 10 o’clock news at KTXS TV in Abilene.
Many of the skills Blanks learned to work in this environment and occupation came from her ACU education, she says.
“The knowledge from my communication courses at ACU has played a vital role in my career as both a journalist and as a marketing and public relations director,” Blanks says. “You have to be able to clearly and concisely deliver messages both to members of the media and viewers at home. You also need excellent interpersonal skills when interviewing strangers or pitching ideas to members of the media. I feel like ACU prepared me for the real work world and taught me how to be a professional in any setting.”
Blanks began at ACU as an early high school graduate majoring in broadcast journalism. However, after an internship, she decided much of the skills she needed for that career could be learned on the job and changed to a broader communication major. She kept broadcast journalism as her minor.
“I wanted to learn about something I felt would be important no matter what career or field I entered into, and that was communication,” she says.
She found ACU appealing for many reasons.
“After visiting, I felt very strongly that it was the right place with the right kind of people for me,” she says. “I especially loved that I was free and encouraged to involve God and Christianity in every aspect of my education.”
Her professors had a major influence on her experience.
“My favorite part of the entire communication department was by far the professors,” Blanks says. “They truly made a lasting impact on how I communicate personally and professionally. I am very appreciative of their advice and mentoring during my time at ACU. They all truly had a great impact on my education.”
Blanks looks back on her time at ACU as both rewarding and encouraging.
“It was such a different experience,” she says. “Professors, admissions advisers, anyone who could, helped me achieve my goals of graduating college in three years. They believed in me and supported me, and I’ll never forget that.”