Farewell to an advocate for journalism

Published 11:12 am Tuesday, August 2, 2011

When news reached our building that Cynthia Shackelford, long-time public relations director for the University of Montevallo, had passed away July 27, everyone who knew her was shocked.

Even though we had known of her health problems, such as a stroke in February, we never imagined a world without Cynthia, constantly working as the University of Montevallo’s greatest friend and strongest ally.

She began work at UM in 1993 and served not only as the public relations director but as an advocate for The Alabamian, UM’s student newspaper.

Cynthia was The Alabamian’s advisor, serving as a mentor to some of Alabama’s strongest, brightest young journalists.

She fully believed that The Alabamian, as a student newspaper, should be run by the students, not by journalism faculty or UM administrators. She also fully believed that although the UM students running The Alabamian were indeed journalists, they were also students, and as such they had the right to make mistakes and learn from them.

Cynthia became a family member for these young journalists. Justin Averette, a former editor at the Shelby County Reporter and the current managing editor at The Clanton Advertiser, shared his story of suffering a broken shoulder. Cynthia cared enough to take him to the emergency room, stay with him and take him home.

To us, that story showcased the loyalty and love that made Cynthia so much more than an advisor. Her generosity and heart made her a true friend.

The We Say is the opinion of the Shelby County Reporter editorial board.