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  • Year in Review


When I was younger all I wanted was to get out of Kansas.

I was going to do big things. I was going to live in a big city. (Despite my inability to ever know where I am going). I was going to travel. I was going to see the world.

Small minds. Small towns. Small people. That’s how I saw the Sunflower State. I was ashamed that we were often the laughing stock of the nation — whether it was rejecting evolution or being the last to catch on to the latest fashion trend, Kansas always seemed to be behind. And I wanted to be ahead.

I applied for jobs all over the country when I graduated in 2011. The only place I got an offer, however, was for an internship. In Kansas. I still thought I would get out. It just might take longer than previously anticipated.

That summer I also visited a friend of mine who had recently moved to New York City. I had been dreaming of visiting NYC for years, and I was totally pumped for the trip. I knew I was going to fall in love. I was worried I would become very jealous of my friend, and upset that I did not live there as well. I was prepared to be heart broken upon my arrival back in that fly-over state.


But then, that actually didn’t happen at all.

A new chapter — a change of direction

The summer after I graduated from college, I interned as a reporter for a paper in a small town about 45 minutes west of my hometown.

It was my third internship, but my first paid one, and although the people were great, and I learned from the experience, there were several times when I found myself wondering…is this all there is?

It was the same feeling I had at my previous internships, and occasionally at the student newspaper I worked at in college. I majored in journalism, with an emphasis in news and information, yet I just couldn’t see myself being a reporter for long. I looked at it as the beginning of my career as a writer, but not something I wanted to do forever.

This confused me. For as long as I can remember, words have been my passion. When I expressed this desire to my parents, to teachers and other adults along the way, I was constantly steered toward journalism. It seemed like the only logical way to go when it came time to choose a major in college. Yet, somehow for some reason, reporting didn’t make me as happy as I thought it would.

However, while studying journalism in college, and while working at newspapers, I did find there were parts of reporting I loved.

For one, you get to write everyday. Sometimes it’s good stuff. Sometimes it’s really not. You also get to talk to people everyday, to a wide variety of people, and you get to hear their stories, their opinions, and what they have to say. No two days on the job are the same. You are constantly learning something new. You get to research and examine issues, and bring attention to topics of importance. It can be very noble work, and it matters. Journalism is at the core of democracy. I truly believe that the work of reporters — even what may seem trivial— is extremely valuable, and every single reporter should take pride in what he/she does everyday.

Despite all that, and how much I have come to respect journalism as an institution, I had to ask myself what my ultimate career goals were, and how journalism would help get me there. I’m still figuring that out, but my recent experiences have made it a bit more clear.

Better than Average

Math has never been my best subject. Or even close.

I never received excellent grades in math — always B’s with the occasional C’s. One day in middle school I came home with a C on my report card in my math class. I was then grounded until I got my grade up.

I pleaded with my parents, attempting to convince them I simply could not do better than a C. Math was hard, after all, and I was applying my best effort.  Or so the argument went.

My parents, however, insisted that wasn’t true. I wasn’t trying hard enough, I wasn’t asking for enough help, I wasn’t paying enough attention in class…yadda yadda yah.

“A ‘C’ is average, and you are not average. You can do better.”


It didn’t seem to matter what I said though, there would be no television, no friends and no dance classes until my grade was a B or better.

So I buckled down. I took better notes, I asked for help, and my dad stayed up with me every night double checking my homework. Slowly, my grade began to improve.

I never learned to enjoy math, but I did realize I had to try a little harder in algebra and geometry than I did in English or history. I also learned that my parents were right. (Don’t you hate that?!). I could do better than a C.

This is one of the biggest lessons I learned growing up, and probably why I still remember it so distinctly. My parents have always pushed me to put forth my 100% best effort. It wasn’t until I was grounded for not doing so that I realized what I am capable of.