The future, as told by my fourth grade self

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“What do you want to be when you grow up?” Mrs. Langley, my fourth grade teacher, asked the class.

Several hands shot up.

A lawyer. An interior decorator. A dirt bike champion. A space engineer. A teacher.

“What about you?” she asked me.

A story writer.

She asked the class to write a one-page essay about what our future would be and turned it in to a book-which I still have. (see the picture above)

I knew then, at age 10 that was what I wanted to do. I didn’t know the kind of writing I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to write.

I thought it was interesting when looking back that I didn’t write author or simply writer, I specifically wrote story writer.

The more I thought about it, I decided it was fitting to what I want to do 14 years later (now). With writing I want to tell stories, but I don’t just want to tell stories, I want to tell people’s stories. Heck, I want to tell my own stories.

That’s why I went in to journalism. There is something so satisfying about meeting someone, talking and finding out their “thing.” Everyone has a thing and most don’t even know it.

In the past year I have talked with a preacher who decided to start a hot sauce business, a woman who retraced the Trail of Death, the forced removal of Potawatomi Indians from north central Indiana to eastern Kansas in 1838 and a woman who opened a coffee shop that accepts only donations.

I got to find the story behind each person – I was able to learn the man who started the hot sauce business used his mother’s recipe for one of the flavors. His mother has Alzheimer’s, which makes his connection to the sauce an emotional one. I learned the trip for the woman was a “spiritual journey” and is still very much a part of her today. I was able to ask how a business that accepts only donations survives and found out the answer: community.

I was able to get a glimpse of the stories that make up each person and I was given the opportunity to describe that story for others.

That’s what I’m trying to do with this project. I am attempting to update my series, or conversations, on a more consistent basis and it’s a work in progress.

I recently tweaked my name to “Collecting Conversations.” I know, I know, it’s not that different from the former name. I tweaked it to fall in line with this thought of telling other people’s stories. I don’t really feel like I’m “chasing” them, but I do feel like I’m collecting them and in a small way, carrying them with me.

The outtakes (in case you need a laugh):
Just in case you were wondering, in my future essay, my fourth grade self also said I would be married by 25 to a man named Casey, I would have twin girls and we would live in North Carolina. (None of which are true). My personal favorite though (and this is a direct quote from 10-year-old me): “My grandchildren were smart. They were all scientists.”

Merger would affect current, future journalism students

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I’ve talked before about the fact I attended Indiana University and studied journalism. The journalism school at IU, located in Ernie Pyle Hall, is facing a merger that would result in the school losing its independence and merging with Indiana University’s College of Arts and Sciences (COAS).

Hearing news of this made my blood boil.

I spent four years, countless hours there. I attended 8 a.m. classes and stayed on campus all day because I also had a 5:45 p.m. class. I took naps on the furniture, read books with the glass doors open overlooking the courtyard, used the computer lab and checked out video, camera equipment. I took advantage of the resources offered.

Provost Lauren Robel announced the proposed merger of the school and several other programs at her “State of the Campus.” This has caused a Facebook page to be formed to save the journalism school and people are encouraged to sign a petition and contact university officials. Robel silenced objectivity by refusing journalists inside a meeting on Feb. 21. The meeting was held in Ernie Pyle Hall, where the Indiana Daily Student is located.

I plan to take action and hope others do too.

I attended mandatory freshmen courses in the dreaded lecture hall and made friends I kept throughout my college career. More than that, I learned. I learned more than I knew at the time and probably more than I realize now. Visual Communications with Claude Cookman, creating a magazine with Nancy Comiskey, war and the media with Steve Raymer, sports reporting with Terry Hutchins, Indianapolis star sports reporter, and magazine reporting with Zak Szymanski were just a few of my classes taught by brilliant professors.

I also worked for a year in the school as a writer for the website and alumni magazine. My boss, editor, Gena Asher was brilliant. I was able to interview professors I never had and learn new things about the ones I already knew.

I met people, talked with people, and learned from others.  I worked on PowerPoint presentations with group members until my contacts were dry and eyes were red. I studied, quizzed other students about subjects we were about to be tested on.

I grew. Indiana University has one of the best journalism schools in the country and to take its independence away is ludicrous. It isn’t just a place where people are let loose without guidance. They are sculpted into journalists. They are allowed opportunities to network and get the careers they desire.

I am outraged journalism students could miss out on the experience I had. Merging the programs and allowing the possibility of someone being lost in translation is a horrible thing to rob future, current students.

The merger would affect future writers, reporters, radio broadcasters, television broadcasters and publicists who will be delivering news all over the world.

I now work at a daily newspaper in northern Indiana and the Indiana University school of journalism and all those in it helped me prepare for it.

Journalism isn’t dead yet, but taking away the school’s independence is similar to shooting the first bullet.

Real World Optimism

A lot has happened throughout the past year.  Including the college graduation milestone.  I logged into my wordpress account today for the first time in a few weeks and took a look at the paragraph under my blog domain name.

It reads: “Entering the final lap in my college career before taking a huge (but chic) stride into the unknown.”

I have been applying for jobs and internships vigorously since January. I have also been stressing out about having to finish my last two college credits during the summer, and I now only have three days left of class.  Although what will come in the future is still unknown, things are starting to fall into place. My mother told me that things will work out, and I’m beginning to watch that happen.

Three weeks ago I got offered an internship in Pennsylvania for a newspaper and two weeks ago I accepted the position.  No, I’ve never been to Pennsylvania. No, I’ve never lived out of state for an extended amount of time. No, I’ve never lived ten hours from the place that I have called home for the past 22 (almost 23) years of my life.

I will not, I repeat, I will not let that hold me back.  I plan to move to Pennsylvania in a week and a half and I plan to start working in two weeks. I plan to make that huge (but chic) step into the unknown and I plan to do so with the fresh optimism that only a recent college grad could have.

Plans might change, but mother always knows best

Today Marks the beginning of my last semester of college classes ever (fingers crossed).  I say fingers crossed, because after a quick visit to my advisor, I found out I have two credits left to take.  Really? two credits.  There aren’t even classes available worth two credits, only one or three credit classes  (thanks for toying with my emotions IU).

My first  reaction was anger.  Not only do I have two measely credits I have to take, but the credits can’t be in journalism, advertising, communication, media, or tellecommunications, or english.  That means that I can’t take any class related to my major or minor. 

My second reaction was frustration.  Because after trying to fit those two little credits in my final schedule, I found out that I can’t because I am already taking 18 credits.    So I need two credits but I cannot add two credits to my already full schedule. 

My third reaction was panic.  I’ve been applying to internships everywhere for the past three months for this summer.  I had hopes of an internship at a magazine in Indianapolis, Chicago, or New York this summer. 

My fourth reaction was _____.  I called my mother.  This should have been my first reaction.  My mother calmed me down from “if-I-don’t-get-two-credits-fit-into-my-schedule-I-will-fail-at-not-only-this summer-internship-but-the-rest-of-my-journalism-career-and-life.” Yes, I know that was a dramatic thought process, but that’s how I was feeling at the moment. She not only gave me great advice, she made me see that I currently can do nothing about the two credits and worrying about it will only drive me insane. 

My mother informed me that if I have to take a first summer session class at IU, I’ll survive.  First session classes start in May and end in June and I would still be graduating in May.  I also have already paid rent on my house for the summer, which means I have a place to stay and I won’t be losing any money.  She also informed me that it’s okay if I don’t get an internship at the beginning of the summer, I can get one later in the summer or I can get one in the fall.  I already have two jobs, and taking one class in the summer would allow me to have the time to save up some money for when I do move.

Tacking on one more class to my other six, would only ensure that I have zero free time to actually enjoy what’s left of my senior year. So what did she tell me you might wonder? She told me to work hard, but also make some time to do something fun.  She informed me that sometimes I worry about making other people happy (i.e. finishing in May and getting an amazing internship immediately) and I need to focus on myself. Last, she told me to make mistakes and enjoy what’s left of my senior year, because whether I know it or not, everything will fall into place. Thanks to my mother I realized that it might not be such a bad idea to stay around this beautiful campus a  little longer.