BY RACHEL SNODGASS
Country and jazz vs. calculus and journalism. Even though these two instances may seem like they have nothing in common they make up a Summer Journalism Institute speaker Mike Foley’s life.
Foley has over 30 years of journalism experience. Originally from Rockford, Ill., Foley’s first job was working at a sheet-metal factory in his junior and senior years of high school. While in school he was in a band and loved high school math. Once he entered college calculus he soon realized that math was not the career field he wanted to study.
Still in college, Foley was encouraged to enter writing by a professor. When at a cocktail party, Foley was introduced to the editor of the Evening Independent newspaper. After accepting a position as a reporter for the newspaper, Foley’s career started to climb. Foley became a trustee of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Florida, president of Florida Society of Information Foundation of Florida, and was a judge for the Hearst Foundation College Writing Awards along with many other titles. Foley also worked for the St. Petersburg Times.
After entering the marketing field for the Times, Foley decided that he was not really interested in marketing. “I am not that good at it and I don’t like it.” he said.
In August of 2003, Foley started working at the University of Florida. He is a master lecturer and currently teaches two summer classes — reporting and advanced reporting. In the Fall Foley has an average lecture class of 200 students.
“I like teaching,” he said. “I love my job.”
Foley also has a scholarship program called Mike Foley Scholarship. He was married while in college so he said he prefers married students for this program mainly because he knows they do not have a lot of fun or money while in college.
In Foley’s spare time now he is in a jazz band called Mood Swingz. He plays bass guitar alongside his wife, Suzette Jennings, the bands singer. Even though he is in a jazz band, Foley’s favorite genre of music is country. He says he really likes the Dixie Chicks.
He also shared some advice for aspiring journalists.
“There are two types of reporters the ones who have ideas and the ones who get assignments. You want to be the reporter who has ideas. Your editor will love you and you will be doing something you want to do,” he said.