I was ready to commit to Penn State after my first visit to The Daily Collegian.
I toured the Collegian office during a summer campus visit while still in high school, and I became enamored with the rows of computers in the basement and the newspaper-lined walls. I envisioned the maroon wheely seat I would occupy and the hours I would spend writing in that very basement of the James Building over the next four years.
But I thought my first time in the building would also become my last.
While on the tour with my mom, we became separated, and in a rash decision she chose to frantically seek out the then-editor in chief to report her 18-year-old daughter missing. She generously reunited us, but when I learned what had occurred, I was humiliated.
In that moment, I feared the staff would not hire me, and I would be remembered as the girl with the panicked mom who recruited help to find her grown daughter.
I still chose to apply for a position on staff my first summer as a freshman, however. I remember texting my mom after my interview with the same level of panic she felt when she lost sight of me. I told her how I checked my phone frequently, waiting for a rejection.
She wrote me back: “Don’t ever sell yourself short. You never know unless you try. And sometimes you may just amaze yourself…never me because I already know you are amazing. But truth be known, you still amaze me.”
I amazed myself by getting into the Collegian shortly after. The news outlet, the people working there and the work they have done has continued to amaze me since my first day.
My mom was the first person I called when they offered me a spot in the Collegian candidacy class, and while I was nervous, she reassured me this was where I belonged. And I listened… as she was the one who encouraged me to try something new and get involved with the newspaper in high school.
I’ve always feared the unknown — preferring the safe path with a predetermined destination and no room for risk.
But in the final months of eighth grade, we were given the responsibility to plan our own class schedules for the first time in our education.
Instinctively, I selected art. I had already taken many art classes, and I knew what to expect.
But it was my mom who convinced me to join the high school newspaper. While at times I may have regretted that decision, I can say that it has been the best one I’ve ever made. It has come with many tears, late nights and reworked words. But, it has also given me the opportunity to hear unique stories firsthand and work with some of the greatest people I know.
I walked through Mike the Mailman’s home for an article on his bed-and-breakfast, I spoke to John Urschel about his NFL career and gift in mathematics and I accompanied a State College police officer during her night shift on the Friday of a football weekend. I interviewed some of the men who wore the Nittany Lion suit over the years and listened to their cherished stories, as if I lived through the games alongside them.
When I felt lost during college and second-guessed the decisions I made or the major I picked, the Collegian was the only sure thing. The building and people who occupied it made me feel at home.
So listen to your mom, venture into the unknown without fear and embrace the growth that college will bring about. You may get lost along the way, but that is OK, too.
Thank you to my supportive family, the friends I have from high school journalism class and the friends I’ve met at Penn State.
Thank you to my fellow reporters, editors and advisors from the Slater and the Collegian who showed and shared with me the love I have for journalism.
And thank you to the James Building for always providing a constant space for me to feel found.