Journalism professor Tracey Eaton retiring at the end of the 2023-2024 academic year

Professor Eaton poses with Lester Holt, the anchor for the weekday edition of NBC Nightly News. He is on assignment in Havana, Cuba. Photo courtesy of NBC News crew.

By Zoe Sherman

Professor Tracey Eaton has taught at Flagler College for 17 years. As his final semester at Flagler comes to an end, he is reflective on his time here and looks forward to his future endeavors. 

Eaton got his foot in the door of teaching because he was looking for a change of pace in his career. He had been a part of the journalism world for around 24 years when he applied at Flagler College in 2007

“I decided to try teaching. I wanted to live in Florida, so I rented a car and drove around the state looking at colleges where I might like to work. Once I drove through St. Augustine and caught a glimpse of Flagler College, I knew it was the place for me,” Eaton said.

After discovering Flagler he applied for the job. Eaton is grateful that Dr. Tracy Halcomb, who was the department chair at the time, gave him the opportunity to be a professor.

Eaton has many memorable moments and experiences from his time spent teaching here at Flagler.

“Flagler College has amazing and wonderful students. Getting to know them has been so rewarding. I love seeing them progress in their careers and fulfill their dreams,” Eaton said.

His career has been nothing short of admirable. He was inducted into the Flagler College Hall of Fame during this year’s Communication Week. His advice about the profession of journalism is encouraging.

“Many legacy media outlets are hurting, but there are loads of opportunities beyond traditional news. journalists know how to tell a story, and storytellers are in demand,” Eaton said.

Out of all of his careers, Eaton’s favorite job was working as a foreign correspondent for the Dallas Morning News in Mexico City and Cuba.

“That was an incredible experience. Covering breaking news stories in foreign countries is interesting and exciting. When you’re on deadline chasing a story, you feel your adrenaline pumping. It’s a tremendous rush. It’s addicting. It’s why I consider myself a recovering foreign correspondent. I have never quite gotten over it,” Eaton said. 

Eaton’s future plans consist of exploring new possibilities for himself and his career. He is an avid traveler and is always looking for new things to try.

“After I leave Flagler College, I would like to explore the possibility of working as a foreign correspondent once again. I was one of the only Americans running a news bureau in Havana from 2000 to early 2005. I plan to spend some time in Cuba later this year to study the possibilities,” Eaton said.

Eaton’s advice to future journalists is nothing short of motivational. 

“Work hard. What’s that cliché? Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard. Beyond that, I’d say that if being a journalist is an intriguing idea, don’t be afraid to try it. Travel, write, see the world, learn a language. Don’t be discouraged,” Eaton said.

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