I’ve known ever since I was very young that I really enjoyed writing and that people liked to read what I wrote. In elementary school, I wrote stories in which my friends and I were the heroes. I also wrote poetry and entered poetry competitions where I won a few awards. My family, and my grandmother in particular, was determined that I would be a famous poet one day. But even in the fourth grade, I knew I would rather be a journalist. My reasoning was if I was a journalist, I could help people with my writing and keep people informed about the world.
It was in the fifth grade my best friend Kate told me about Mizzou, where her parents were alumni. “It’s the best journalism school in the world!” she said. “It would be perfect for you! I’m going there too!” Kate and I eventually grew apart, and she eventually picked a different school. But I never lost my passion for journalism.
At the end of my junior year of high school, I decided I wanted to major in journalism despite never taking a journalism class, such as newspaper or yearbook staff, in high school. I knew I liked to read and write, and journalism seemed like the proper outlet for that. Like the overachiever I was, I diligently applied to schools over the summer and first part of my senior year, finishing my applications to Rice, Texas A&M, Abilene Christian, Baylor and Northwestern in September.
Sometime shortly after that, my mom came home one day and told me she had talked to Mrs. Stone, one of our old neighbors. Mrs. Stone’s son, Chris, was studying journalism at the University of Missouri, and it was apparently the No. 1 journalism school in the country. I was skeptical to say the least. What was Mizzou? I had never heard of it. I wasn’t even entirely sure how far away Missouri was from Texas; sure, I could point it out on a map, but I didn’t know exactly how long it might take to drive from Texas to Missouri. (At least 10 hours, if you’re interested.)
When I was a junior in high school, I thought I had my whole career path figured out: I was going to go to the University of Illinois-Champaign and into the architecture program, but I soon realized I hated math. This quickly became an issue since math and architecture typically go hand in hand. Now I was faced with the dilemma of either struggling through all the math classes or changing career paths. I decided that it was in my best interest to find something else that I was good at. My high school counselor was the one who pointed me in the direction of journalism. He believed I had the ambition and creativity to succeed in the media field and he gave me a list of schools to look into.
The summer before my senior year, my mom forced me to look at colleges and to start applying. Before my first week of school was over, I was more than halfway done with my my college applications. Mizzou was one of the last schools I applied to, and I kind of did it out of the blue. I was almost positive that I was going to go to the University of Iowa. Being from a suburb in Chicago, this seemed like the perfect choice. It was close to home, and I knew a lot of people going there. My mom told me to just accept and send in my housing contract there just to be on the safe side.
Everybody had their favorite thing when they were a little kid. Some liked Sesame Street, others liked Barney or Arthur, and there were even some weird kids who liked Teletubbies. I was none of these, as my childhood obsession was Thomas the Tank Engine. I had everything—the toys, the movies, the wallpaper, all of it. Seriously, go ask my mom, she probably still has some of it buried in the basement storage room. But I digress.
My love for Thomas and his talking train friends made me want to become a train engineer when I grew up. I knew nothing about how trains worked or what the job was. Later in life I would find out it’s a pretty lousy job, but by the time I was 12, I knew it wasn’t a realistic career. So I asked my parents what sort of jobs I could do, and they offered the usual- doctor, lawyer, something cool. But the thought of more school didn’t sit well with 12-year-old me so I decided to set it aside for a while.
When I was younger, I kept a time capsule. Every half year or so, I would write a little bit about myself and what was going on in my life at that time and put it in a box. I kept the tradition going even as I got to high school and college since I know when I’m older, it will be thrilling to look back at what I wrote and who I was.
One of the more memorable things I wrote was that I wanted to be a journalist for ESPN, specifically. Ever since I was younger, I knew I had a talent of arguing, communicating and talking. Although I had little journalism experience in high school, I knew I had to pursue it, regardless of which college I chose.