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On Camera with RCSJ Alum and News Anchor Leon Purvis

1/13/2020

​Rowan College at Gloucester County (now Rowan College of South Jersey) alumnus Leon Purvis, class of 2015, is busy traveling the country, intent on making his mark in the world of journalism.  A graduate of the College’s Arts and Sciences program, the Glassboro native has always been laser focused when it comes to telling a story.

Looking back on his time at Rowan College at Gloucester County, he credits Professor Keesha Patterson’s Journalism I course for opening his eyes to the world of journalism. Purvis enjoys the idea of being able to ask people as many questions as he wants – no matter who they are – gathering the information, then delivering it for people to see.

“Professor Patterson’s journalism class really showed me the competitive nature and rigorous writing style required when writing for newspapers and magazines,” said Purvis.  “The experience really educated me on contending with other journalists to pitch the top or lead story on an assigned beat, gather the information and report it.  It influenced me to pursue the career I have today.”

In 2018, Purvis graduated from Rowan University with Radio/Television/Film and Journalism degrees, along with a wealth of knowledge and experiences in multimedia journalism from traveling across the country from New York to California for internships.  It was during his internship encounters at “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” “Good Morning America,” and NBC’s “TODAY Show,” that he began to meet leaders in the newsrooms whom he wanted to emulate.

“Meeting and learning from Robin Roberts of ‘Good Morning America’ and Hoda Kotb of the ‘TODAY Show’ were inspirational in different ways,” said Purvis, who aspires to be like Roberts in the newsroom and recalls her as being someone with an infectious spirt and attitude, who treated everyone equally and with respect.  “Her confidence and sincerity set the tone for the room, and acknowledging everyone – even the intern – provided me the confidence to go further.” 

Kotb also served as a beacon of inspiration through her story, which Purvis found relatable to his own.  The veteran news anchor sat down with interns to have a conversation about the industry, explaining her journey from graduating college and traveling throughout the country, to getting denied countless times, only to find that one yes that kick started her career.  For Purvis, that yes was Redwood News in Eureka, California. 

Always pursuing his next big assignment, Purvis worked as the weekend anchor/mmj, or multi-media journalist for WDAM in Hattiesburg, Mississippi — remarkably, the same station Roberts worked at early on in her career.  After he accepted the position there, Roberts sent out a tweet acknowledging his accomplishment. 

Purvis hopes to come full circle as a journalist using his internships on “Good Morning America” and the “TODAY Show,” to eventually work where he learned his craft — on stations like ABC News, NBC News, CBS News and cable.  To current RCSJ students hoping to pursue a career in journalism, or any career in general, he offers this advice: don’t take no for an answer.

“In this business, you will get a lot of no’s and it may get you down, but every failure serves as a learning purpose. It is up to you to learn and grow from that opportunity,” advised Purvis.  “Don’t be afraid to move away from home.  After graduating, I traveled 3,000 miles cross country to get my first yes.  Rather than the short term, look at the bigger picture and the opportunity it presents.  Remember, you only need one person to believe in you.”




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