Catching up with John Quinn & Chips Quinn scholars in Cocoa Beach

by Mallary Tenore Tarpley

Me and Mr. Quinn in back of his house on the water.

Last weekend I got to catch up with one of my great mentors, John Quinn, at his winter home in Cocoa Beach. My boyfriend Troy and I went there for a Chips Quinn reunion — a yearly event for those who have gone through the Chips Quinn program.

The program, which is aimed at diversifying newsrooms nationwide, offers training to young minority journalists and sets them up with journalism internships.

While I’m not a Chips Quinn scholar, I’m an “honorary Chipster” as Mr. Quinn likes to say. Quinn, who co-founded USA Today, went to my alma mater, Providence College, and took me under his wing after I got a journalism scholarship in his name there. Ever since I got the scholarship, he has invited me to the Chips Quinn reunions in Carolina, R.I., where he lives during the summer, and in Cocoa Beach.

Mr. Quinn, who lives smack in the middle of Al Neuharth‘s house and Frank Vega‘s house, always likes to point out that he and I were both editors of Providence College’s student newspaper, The Cowl, and that we graduated 62 years apart from each other. He shares stories about how the college had to stop printing The Cowl during the war, and I share stories about how much has changed since then.

Me, my crazy beach hair, and Troy.

I’m grateful to have had so many mentors who helped me get to where I am today and who, over the years, have become not just role models but good friends. I wrote a story about this last year for Providence College’s alumni magazine, which you can read here. (See pages 27 and 28.)