My love of writing began at 15 with a bout of, at the time, uncharacteristic bravery.
I was a high school junior, raising my hand boldly in a bid for the role of editor of the school newspaper, the Blue Devil’s Advocate.
It was fate — no one else wanted the job.
And I took to it. Something about it— the reading, the writing and re-writing and pursing my brow in a push for a better headline — lit a fire in me. I was hungry for more.
Graduation came and I took up studies at Michigan State University in English. It didn’t take long to abandon that pursuit in favor of taking up residence at the Communication Arts and Sciences building as a journalism student.
The writing wasn’t like high school — for one, my sources weren’t ever available, right down the hall. I loved the challenge. The pursuit of a trying story or difficult source only pushed me to work harder.
Even though it met on Fridays — every Friday — I signed up for Capital News Service, a student-staffed wire service specializing in public policy coverage. It gave me a taste of the newsroom environment, with its rapid pace and hard deadlines.
The early pieces were clunky. I wasn’t confident in my skills and found it challenging to omit extra words and unneeded paragraphs.
But I kept going. And it showed. I made my first front page — the Big Rapids Pioneer — and it was the sign I needed. By my second semester, I was able to parse complex legislation and developed different strategies and connections that helped me track down sources.
My words were more concise and read with fluidity, and I strived to present a balanced, accessible account for readers, even those with little background knowledge on the subjects. I found motivation in the importance of my role — being a bridge between the average reader and the public policies impacting their lives.
But I wanted to do more.
I joined the staff of the Great Lakes Echo, an online-only environmental publication based out of MSU’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism, and nabbed an internship and later freelance position with the nearby Lansing City Pulse.
I left shortly after graduation for Ludington, where I spent two years covering politics, fishing/hunting, entertainment and environmental issues at the Ludington Daily News. A story I produced on a boat fire and rescue efforts earned me first place in spot news coverage by APME for 2017.
Yearning for a new challenge brought me to the Traverse City Record Eagle in early 2018, where I work as a features reporter, covering a variety of entertainment, food and health beats, as well as news-based features on topics like cancer rates and hunting regulations.
I’m just glad I raised my hand.