What Jamail taught us

The flood of phone calls pulled us together on Super Bowl Sunday last year. We huddled together after the shooting in the basement of Fedor Hall as our colleagues raced to campus from all over the Mahoning Valley.

We sat in our office from 10 a.m. until nearly 11 p.m. 

A staff of around 25 student journalists and nearly every journalism faculty member at YSU worked as a whole to produce a four-page special edition of The Jambar to accurately tell the story; we did so through print, multimedia and social media. We covered every aspect of the story. It was our responsibility to do so. 

We never knew Jamail. We never talked to him or thought about him until that day. But we’ve thought about him every day since.

As journalists, we stumbled into a delicate situation, asking questions and testing boundaries. We interviewed witnesses before the police did, and we questioned ourselves for doing so. We documented tears and frustration and tried not to let them get to us.

But the story had to be told. So we cast aside our reservations and did the best we could.

As students, Jamail brought us closer together. It was our profession that called on us to be here, but it was Jamail’s life and death that gave us purpose. 

He was a model student, a sincere person and a beacon of pride in a desperate community.

As people we grew. We learned together and failed together. We relied on one another.

Two years of journalism students have followed a man they may never have known. And the next two years of students will follow suit.

If there is anything that Jamail has taught us, it’s that life should be built on memories. And that a life needs constant repair, additional memories to piece in the cracks time creates.