Chances are if you've ever scanned radio stations in your vehicle while driving across the state of Mississippi and heard "Alex Paton...News Mississippi" at the end of a news report, you probably didn't know she was a proud Holmes Community College graduate.
The Kosciusko native is also proud of how she landed the job with News Mississippi, a subsidiary of TeleSouth Communications, which provides news stories for 60 stations across the state of Mississippi.
"That's a whirlwind story," Paton said. "I was asked by one of my professors to do a radio spot as well as a radio story. I was able to do the piece and we sent it over to the local Super Talk radio station (in Oxford), and I was done for the day.
The next day she received an email asking her to come interview for the job at News Mississippi.
"I had heard of them before, but I didn't have a lot of information on them so I started researching the company," Paton said. "I graduated on a Saturday. The following Thursday I came in for an interview and the following Monday they offered me the job. It doesn't happen like that for a lot of people. It's been a very positive move for me and I've enjoyed my time at News Mississippi. It's kind of like starting off with a dream job."
Paton says no day is ever the same and she likes it that way.
"We cover the stories that affect all Mississippians; because of that we have a wide variety of stories we are able to tell," she said. "We have amazing people in Mississippi. Getting to know the state better, at that level, has been a lot of fun for me."
Her day starts at 4 a.m. when she arrives at the station and begins writing her first scripts of the day and recording her news spots.
"I am my own producer," she explains. "I load the news onto our server and get ready for the next hour."
The news reports appear at different times for each station because they each have their own setup. Paton says knowing her reports are statewide is surreal, but her on-air voice and "normal" voice are different.
"I am able to have a little bit of anonymity where everyone doesn't recognize me," she said. "My work mode is not me. It's that persona."
She first took an interest in radio around the age of 14 or 15 because of Boswell Media owner Johnny Boswell, whom she describes as her mentor."I had a fascination with it because my mentor, Johnny Boswell, told me radio is the theatre of the mind," Paton said. "He got me really interested in radio and I went about it in a practical manner. He's the one who has been the coach for me all those years, and I was able to work with him while I was at Holmes."
She served as a board operator for Kosciusko football and baseball games taking the play-by-play announcers in and out of commercial breaks. She also served as an intern for them while at Ole Miss and got her first taste of cutting some news stories.
"I had a lot of late nights doing that," she said of the sporting events. She worked the board, helped friends with homework and even did her own math homework. "I like to multi-task."
After receiving her associate's degree from Holmes, she knew she wanted to do something in the field of communications.
"I began trying to figure out what that might look like, and I came to the decision that I would go into journalism," Paton said. "I transferred to Ole Miss and earned a degree in broadcast journalism with a minor in English."
While at Ole Miss, Paton spent time at Rebel Radio, the college FM radio station, and even had her own show, "Live with Lexi."
Prior to attending Ole Miss, Paton stayed busy as a student on Holmes' Goodman Campus. She was a member of the Choir, Coachmen, the Baptist Student Union and a member of the leadership team for Phi Theta Kappa, where she chaired the Honors in Action Project.
"During my time at Holmes, I really enjoyed it because I was able to be involved in so many activities on campus," she said. "For me, that was a blessing. I absolutely love music. It is something that I am passionate about."
While serving as a member of the PTK leadership team Paton said she learned valuable leadership skills that are still helping her to this day.
"We were able to learn about different personality types and how to work with them," she said. "Lots of times in the workforce you don't get to pick your group partners so learning to work with other individuals and learning how other individuals work was very useful to me. I'm still using those skills today.
Paton said her time at Holmes was a blessing for her and she enjoyed the campus experience.
"I think it's different for everyone, but I'm obviously a people-person," she said. "I gain a lot of energy when I'm around other people. It became a home away from home at least four days a week. I think it's important because you are able to have a life outside of the classroom."
Paton added that being an intern at a business or serving as a work-study on campus can help someone choose their career path.
"Whenever I get into any new arena I like to seize every opportunity I am given," she said. "You never know how this might affect you down the road. I think it's just as important to know what you do not want to do as it is to know what you ultimately do want to do with your life. It kind of set me up to feel confident going into my chosen field."
Another reason why Paton said she enjoyed Holmes was that her sister, Victoria, was also a student there at the same time.
"We always get mistaken for twins," Paton said. "We've been able to have that twin experience without being twins."
Victoria was also involved in Phi Theta Kappa and the two were able to be officers alongside one another.
"It's a really neat experience to share with someone and it was a lot of fun going to the regional and international conventions together," Paton said. "We had a couple of classes together at Holmes and a few of the teachers would get us mixed up. If one of us was out, they would always have trouble figuring out who was who."
Overall, Paton credits her positive experiences at Holmes as the foundation that led her into her current career. She encourages others to make the most of their time in college by jumping on opportunities to get involved and establishing relationships with their peers.
"A lot of my Holmes friends are friends for life," said Paton.