Fall 1998. Tad Dickens graduated from East Tennessee State University with a bachelor of arts in communication and concentration in journalism. Eight years after graduation Dickens is now the online entertainment editor for The Roanoke Times. “Previously at the Times, I had covered rural Bedford County before moving on to cover the Roanoke City Courthouse for about four years,” Dickens said. “After a few years, I felt it was time to move on. I wanted to feel this town from another perspective, and my latest job is really giving me that opportunity.”
Classroom work and a job at the East Tennessean were essential for Dickens’ preparation for his current work. “Excellent teachers got me ready to question, think and adapt,” Dickens says, “but the best teachers make sure you know that things are always changing. And they let you know that you’d better be ready.”
Dickens encourages current and prospective students to join the programs offered through the Department of Communication. “Lots of bright students go to big time J-schools, where the programs are so huge and the competition is so tough that at the end of four years, you’ve got no practical experience,” Dickens said.
“I found myself in the mix right away, getting great access to professors and finding an abundance of hands-on opportunities. You can’t beat that.”