When people asked me what I want to be when I grew up, it started out as a lot of different things. First it was a veterinarian, then it was a doctor, an O.P., a professional singer. These were purely professions I was interested in became everyone else thought it was cool to play with puppies or sing into microphones all day long.
It really wasn't until I was older that I knew with a certainty that, one day, being a writer was going to be my job and my passion when I grew up.
Since the time I was a little girl, words have always held a strong, powerful meaning to me. When my Dad would read me and my sisters our nightly bedtime story - "Harry Potter," of course - I would always get in trouble because I would take the book away to "see the words move". It sounds strange, but I could see how the words swirled off the pages and into the air around me, luminous in the imagination they sparked in a 5 year old me.
My parents always encouraged me to read every and any kind of book I could get my hands on and boy, did I do that. I read everything from history textbooks to pamphlets to old newspaper, even some of my Mom's romance novels. The library was my favorite place to go, and it was there where I first tried writing, crafting my own little short stories on scrap sheets of paper and brightly colored Post-It notes. I wanted to replicate and create a story like the ones I had read, bursting with contrasting tones and colorful plots. I kept stacks of notebooks in my desk drawer, all piled haphazardly from when I'd be seized with a story idea or sentence, wildly grab the nearest notebook and frantically scribbled it down, least I forgot it.
Fast forward to my freshman year in high school, when I stepped into my Intro to Journalism class for the first time. I was expecting a no-nonsense-constant-writing kind of class, which it was. But what I didn't expect was the emotion and passion behind each and every article and news report. On the first day, the journalism teacher showed us a video about illegal oil rigs in the Brazilian rain forest from VICE News. This particular video showed not only the tactics and financial gains made by the oil companies, but also the effect it had on the local villagers and the rain forest around them. Families were broken up as the men were force to work long hours on the rigs, and many of the children sickened or died horribly due to the water pollution caused by oil contamination. When the video ended, my horror and surprise was quickly turned into something else: concern and determination, a desire to impact and create change.
Immediately after, I joined the school newspaper and my passion for news was born.
My high school newspaper, called "The Cannon," was widely viewed by the student body as a joke, a waste of time. The Cannon was hugely in debt, and we struggled to make ends meet, piling together all our earning from each issue to print enough copies for the next upcoming issue. But slowly, our hard work, selling tactics, publication ideas and creative thinking slowly bought the sales up. By the time I graduated, The Cannon was completely put of debt, and we had sold out of every single issue (about 9 different issues) in that year alone.
In the process of working on and writing about tough social issues like suicide, eating disorders, cyberbullying and depression, The Cannon had become my closest confidants and my second family. They taught me to stand up for what I believe in and to always use proper AP style (lol).
The journalism teacher and the "boss" of Cannon, Derek Burtch, quickly grew to become one of my favorite teachers, and a mentor. Burtch was the one who really pushed me to expand my writing abilities, both in journalism and English. He tested me in writing satire, politics, economical, culture, art, world news and sports, and helped me find out what my niche was, what I really enjoyed writing about. He always told me, "If you graduate and you end up stuck in a boring job writing something your not passionate about, then you're just a sucker." He taught me to love what I did and to be proud of being a writer.
Lord! If I hadn't stepped into that classroom four years ago...who knows what I would want to be now? Well, certainly not a vet, maybe a professional singer? No. I've always been a writer, always going to be a writer and I can't wait to see where that road takes me.