As a kid, I always knew I wanted to be a writer. I was the weird kid who actually read for pleasure, and throughout most of my schooling experience, I was, and still am, the weird kid who actually likes to write.
As I grew older, I came to appreciate television, movies, and even music as a way of telling a great story. I love the way a song’s lyrics can really speak to you and really emulate your emotions. I love how a good television show, a movie, or a book can bring us together by keeping us on the edge of our seats, filling the room with laughter, or getting us emotionally invested to the characters on screen or in the text. Something as seemingly simple as a newspaper or magazine article – even a picture – can tell amazing stories that we can connect with or just find fascinating.
I would later find out that I had an interest in mass media.
I grew up in Poplar Grove, IL, a small village located about twenty minutes outside of Rockford, IL. Rockford is known for being the second largest and most populated city in Illinois next to Chicago. I can relate to anyone who grew up in a small town and found themselves a little isolated, but I was never too far away from a big city. I was used to being around a rural area, but a more urban setting was always within reach.
Throughout my years in middle school and high school, I heard a lot of good feedback about my writing. While I wasn’t horrible at math or science, I could easily tell that I wouldn’t be pursuing a career in those fields. I always knew that a major in liberal arts was always my true calling. My teachers pushed me to read and write. My mother, knowing full well that I actually liked writing papers, to this day still gives me her papers to edit. I went on to take classes like Debate in high school, and Creative Writing, Film History and Appreciation, and several sociology courses in college.
During my sophomore year of high school, I had a tough decision to make. I was given the opportunity to participate in a fairly new early college high school program. The program, Running Start, allowed students in my school district and a few surrounding districts to attend community college full time during their last two years of high school. The intent was to graduate from community college with an associates degree at the same time you receive your high school diploma. As my older brother was a recent graduate of the program, my parents saw it as a cost effective way to get through college. At 16, I was scared to leave my life at high school behind and start college, but I ultimately decided to take the opportunity. While difficult to adjust to at first, I found the experience pretty great. I made some new friends and got a two year head start. During the process, I was inducted to Phi Theta Kappa, an international honor society for two-year colleges. I was still able to participate in high school related things like clubs, sports events, and school dances. I was a normal teenager who held down a jobs at a local apple orchard and later, a local movie theater up until leaving to attend a university. At the end of the day, I feel like I got a great education and didn’t really miss out on much at all. I ended up receiving my associates of arts degree from the Rock Valley college graduation ceremony two days before I even received my high school diploma at my high school’s graduation ceremony. It’s crazy how some things work out like that.
Flash forward two years and I was starting to look at universities to transfer to. I struggled with the pressures of picking the right university and picking the right major. Unlike my high school peers, I was unable to enter as an open option major, because I already had 67 credits worth of college classes done. I thought long and hard about it. In the end, I decided that the best major for me would be Journalism & Mass Communications, as I love to write, and I have a deep interest in mass media. I transferred to Iowa State University in the fall of 2013. Even though I’m classified as a junior, I’m still just 18 years old.