Last Friday was not really going my way. I walked into the Jackson Free Press office, hair wet and messy from the rain and feeling a little woe is me. I told Donna I might have to skip out of the weekly workshop a little early to meet a teammate for a workout at JA. "Oh that's okay," she said "the guest speaker will only be here from 4-5 anyway." "Oh. Who's the guest speaker?" I asked. Donna smiled mischievously. "It's a surprise." I love surprises. I love them. I also love people. Surprise person? I'm on board 100%, and my day was instantly made. The happy anxiousness of surprise person workshop day hung in the air for the rest of the afternoon. Until, at 4:00 when all of the interns were situated in the workshop room, who walks in but Cedric Willis? Previous to this meeting we had been reading, studying and talking about an article writing about Cedric Willis' wrongful conviction and imprisonment. An innocent teenager, he was taken from his home in Jackson, tried for rape and murder, and thrown into prison despite very conflicting evidence. He was eventually released, but not until 12 years later. (For full story by Brian Johnson click this link: http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/news/...) Cedric had missed out on 12 years of his life. While in prison his grandmother died, and his newborn son had grown up. When he was finally free, his prospects were not looking so great, either, with no job and no reparation for his time in prison. Before Cedric walked into our classroom, Donna asked all of the interns to write about what they learned from reading the story. I wrote "not all justice stories have happy endings." But hearing Cedric speak completely changed my view. Cedric made it through 12 years of wrongful imprisonment by keeping his faith that he would eventually, and most definitely gain his freedom back. And once he was out, his happiness of having succeeded overcoming the corruption of our justice system overpowered his sadness that he was locked up for so long. Hearing such an optimistic viewpoint from someone who had been through so much bad was incredibly refreshing. I was happy to be proved wrong about what I had written earlier in the workshop. Working a the Jackson Free Press, I have met a lot of people who I am lucky to have talked with. A lot of people have surprised me, and a lot of people have taught me some great life lessons. Part of being a journalist here is not just telling the facts of a mediocre story, but really understanding people to tell the best and most in depth stories. Cedric said that now, being out of prison, he never takes people at face value. He'll never look at a criminal on television or in the newspaper and be satisfied with what's there. If everyone was satisfied with their perceptions of a person at first glance, Cedric would still be in jail and would never have brought his optimism and wisdom to a class of young, aspiring journalists.