The experiences of Mercy Chikowore
Apr 08, 2019
Claflin mass communications graduate Mercy Chikowore was a professional speaker during CALA-Bash. (Panther photo by Kierra Felder)
During April’s CALA-Bash, the School of Humanities and Social Sciences brings alumni speakers to campus.
Communications professional and advocate for women and girls Mercy Chikowore visited Claflin students in the Mass Communications Department. In a program titled “Get Your Life,” she addressed how to survive in the mass communications world and her experiences in digital media, journalism and public relations.
Chikowore was born in Japan, from Zimbabwe. She has a twin sister, both being Claflin graduates. She attended John Hopkins for graduate school in mass communications.
“I don’t want to talk at you because you know I’ve been in your seat. I’ve seen a long comeback. I’ve seen people speak plenty of times,” she said.
“Every time someone speaks, it’s like, ‘Oh there’s another one. What are they going to preach to us now?’ I don’t want to do that, I think we should have a conversation,” Chikowore said.
“What do you want to know about life after college? What do you want to know about professionalism?” she asked.
Chikowore has traveled all over the world: Japan, Zimbabwe, New York and Switzerland. “As you travel all over the world, you develop communication skills, you develop a lot of ways to connect with different audiences.”
“At Claflin, I decided to major in mass communications,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to be a magazine editor.”
“I did newspaper editing, TV stuff. I wrote for The T&D and it was just an amazing experience,” she said.
“So take from my experience at Claflin. I had internships from NBC. I was placed at the National Institutes of Health in Washington,” Chikowore said.
“The crazy thing is, I already had an internship with Black College Wire, which is a journalism internship, and at the time, I was stationed in Orangeburg as an online intern. I did not want to stay in Orangeburg for the summer.”
The internship offered Chikowore $2,500 and free accommodations if she would stay in D.C. for the summer.
“I turned around to my other internship in Orangeburg and said ‘Hey, I got offered another internship, I’m going to do both and they’re like, ‘No you’re not, you are ruining your life right now, we aren’t going to allow you to do both.’ So I was like I’m going to ruin my life in D.C.”
At the age of 20, Chikowore and her sister moved to Baltimore.
“When I came to Baltimore, guess who came knocking? An internship program, saying, ‘Hey we have another placement for you.’ … That relationship… helped me find a job at UNCF,” Chikowore said. “I did video production. I wrote scripts and I had an amazing time at UNCF.”
While moving from job to job, Chikowore had free-lance jobs on the side.
After a time, she became bored, moving on to public relations.
“I had no idea what a publicist did, just thought it was cool. Saw a lot of publicists, like they had fun at their jobs. I hooked up with a poet that had an entertainment company.”
The poet got a contract with a popular club in Baltimore. “There were people like Common, Music Soul Child, Estelle, Avant, Donnell and soul artists,” Chikowore said.
“Guess who got to do PR for the artist? Me. Guess who didn’t know what they were doing? Me. But I figured it out as we went on.”
She gave advice to the class, “Field fast and field forward is my favorite thing to say.”