Lieutenant Colonel Jeremy Stephens shares his journey before and after CM Life
In a series of interviews, we asked our Alumni about their experiences at CM Life. Read on to see how Jeremy Stephens shares his "Life Story."
In celebration of CM Life's upcoming 100 Year Anniversary, we asked alumna Jeremy Stephens to reflect on his time at CM Life and how it helped him get prepared for the job he has today.
Q: What year did you begin working for CM Life?
A: I started my freshman year (1997-98)
Q: How long were you here?
A: I stayed all four years and finished in May 2001 when I graduated.
Q: What position did you work in?
A: I worked as a reporter (both sports and general assignment), asst. sports editor, sports editor, and finally editor in chief during the 2000-01 school year.
Q: What were some of the highlights or favorite memories while working for CM Life?
A: We had no shortage of great content whether it was the Y2K story and preparing for what might – or might not - happen, or the 2000 election. The sports side had amazing tales as well, my senior year was Chris Kaman’s freshman year on the team and even then you could tell there was something different about this 7 foot freshman from the west side of the state.
And CM LIFE made great strides too, Kathy Simon, Jerry Hoffman, and others led the way as we took our first steps into the World Wide Web and launched our web site. I remember Kathy and the ad folks had worked on a slogan and I believe we went with “add a dash of life to your day” it was great it was catchy and it was 2000 no one really knew what the internet meant for journalists yet.
I was also the last editor to work with Woj as he retired and Neil Hopp started as advisor during my last year. And there was pressure with that the idea of not losing the tradition which had been built. I think we were good stewards though and of course Neil and his successors ensured the tradition continued.
I am proud as well of the mission statement which my team and I crafted as soon as we took over and is still on the web site. There were better writers and editors than me on staff, but I knew I could make an impact and this was a way. One line still rings true, “We will seek to better the skills of every student who walks through our doors with an open mind and a willingness to learn.” I am a big believer in the idea of stewardship of the profession whether its my current job or at LIFE. As the leader I accept none of us are perfect and I don’t demand perfection. What I do expect though is a good work ethic, a good teammate, and someone who when they leave the organization can honestly say I left it in a better condition than when I started. We should be able to say I am better and my co-workers are better because of our time together.
Q: How did your experience at CM Life influence your career today?
A: The ability to work with and lead people from a variety of backgrounds has proven invaluable. When I was editor my last year the staff was around 100 (I think) and I don’t manage nearly that number now. But the lessons I learned, the skills in relationship building, and management are benefits for which I am eternally grateful.
I’m sure I wrote a few half-decent pieces during my tenure, but the friendships, the relationships, and their importance are what I treasure the most. I worked with amazing writers and editors and enjoy reading them now whenever possible. I hope that each of them knows how blessed I am to have worked alongside them and call them friends.
Q: Do you still keep up with CM Life regularly?
A: I try to via social media and will check the web site. I check the sports scores when I can and living in south Texas now, I enjoy all the winter photos and stories!
Q: Where do you work now?
A: I attended law school at Wayne State following graduation and once I passed the bar I joined the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps. I was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in May 2019 and have served on active duty for over 14 years, including a yearlong deployment to Iraq. My family and I have lived in Kansas, Virginia, and Texas and I have seen Cuba, Hawaii, Europe, and the middle east it’s been an amazing experience.
Q: What advice do you have for current CM Lifers?
A: Even in this environment where it seems the world is moving at warp speed, remember being drew first doesn’t matter; it’s being right first that wins. (I’ve heard this before and cannot think of where, paraphrased a bit). You’ll get better, if you want to get better. Your time at CMU will be short, don’t waste it by being dead weight at LIFE or anywhere else. But most importantly don’t miss the friendships you’re creating each deadline day or working on each piece. That will stick more than anything else.
The 100 Year Anniversary celebration will be at Soaring Eagle Casino and Conference Center on Nov. 16 at 5 p.m. Click here to purchase tickets. They must be purchased by Nov. 13 at 4 p.m. in order to attend