When I went about choosing which classes to take in high school, I was utterly lost. I only had two class periods that were not chosen for me, but those two periods seemed like the biggest decision in the world. As it turns out, I was not entirely wrong to think that. Choosing to take News for Print and Online 1 that March was not a choice made out of the knowledge that I would develop a passion for journalism, or that it would be what I wanted to do as a career, but it came from the desire to make friends and connect. My older sister would be the Editor that year, and she had friends. I needed friends. My mother, who had passed away that March, was in newspaper and yearbook in high school, she had friends from that class. It seemed like the most natural thing in the world to choose that class. I would connect with my sister and my mom, I would make friends. My decision had nothing to do with journalism, but it did end up being one of my life-defining decisions.
As I first started my journey with journalism, I thought there couldn’t possibly be a more boring class. I mean the history of journalism law? Come on! I want to play with fun computers! But I stuck it out. For my sister, for my mom, and for the friends I was slowly making. Man am I glad I did. Not only did journalism law become something I deeply appreciate as both a journalist and an American (free speech rocks), but I also found a love for storytelling, through writing, design, photography, through all of it. I learned to get out of my own head and my own story. I learned to understand and appreciate that everyone has a story and not just me. Most of all I learned how to be a voice for whoever needs one, be it telling the world why they prefer cats, or why suicide hotlines are needed and how to use them.
Something that I did not expect to grow into due to journalism is a leader. I was the second born child and a copycat from the time I could walk. I was destined to be a follower for as long as I can remember. I followed my sister into high school journalism in the same copycat fashion. I was supposed to be a follower. Journalism changed that, almost from the moment I walked into that classroom. There is something about journalism that forces you to be a leader, and I am forever grateful for it. I am especially thankful that I was able to learn it so early in my journalism career because leading 43 slightly unmotivated high schoolers as Editor is tough. From girl drama on a class trip – resulting in leading a two-hour breakout session in the middle of the night to work through issues – to helping staff who struggle to put themselves out there and get the story, I would not have been able to handle the responsibility if I had not learned early. The leadership and communication skills have also helped me with job interviews, customer service and helping guide my youth group. Journalism changed the shy, follower path I was on, and while there isn’t anything wrong with being a follower, I blossomed as a leader.
Journalism has also taught me how to be the change I wish to see. At the top of my portfolio is a logo that features my initials and two flowers, lupines to be exact. For me, lupines came from a children’s book Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney — my mom and I’s favorite book to read together. In that book, Miss Rumphius travels all around the world before getting sick and having to stay at home, but Miss Rumphius decides to spread the beauty of the world she saw in her town by throwing lupine seeds wherever she goes. And I feel that summarizes everything I love about journalism. I love my mom, and connecting with her through something like journalism is so important to me because I can not connect in person. I love spreading joy, which journalism allows me to do through feature stories. I love being able to be the change I want to see through informing and bringing light to issues in our world. I love giving a voice. I love leading. And for me that all can be found in Miss Rumphius which I am convinced was meant to be one big extended metaphor for journalism in my life.
All the skills I have learned are invaluable to me, and the passion even more so. I plan on going to the University of Missouri to study journalism, and eventually journalism -strategic communication- in the fall. I intend on continuing to explore journalism in all of its forms, doing what I love for the rest of my life.