From health sciences to mass media, the note that changed a career path

I had a plan, a detailed plan. Graduate high school, get into the radiography program my first year at Laramie County Community College, marry my high school sweetheart and become a traveling radiology technologist.

When only one aspect of my plan worked out, my mother told me that when people try to make plans God simply laughs.

Here I am now, an editor for my school’s newspaper. I have an anatomy class labeled withdrawn on my college transcript, an ex-high school boyfriend, a cat my roommates and I named Kat and a dream to major in mass communications.

You could argue my plan has changed only slightly.

At first, I felt like I failed when I didn’t stick with the degree I wanted to pursue right out of high school. There were many emotional phone calls with my parents about how I had no idea what I was doing with my life and that I might as well drop out and become a flight attendant.

Fun fact, many airlines now minimally require an associate’s degree.

Out of confusion, I hastily chose to declare elementary education as my major. I knew I liked kids and Alaska was in need, according to my late-night research on Google. As part of that major, I was required to take one social science class, so I enrolled in U.S. History to 1865 located on the F.E. Warren Air Force Base.

Conveniently, both my roommate and I were enrolled in that same class so we would fill up our mugs with hot cocoa and make the drive to the base late in the afternoon every Wednesday.

I enjoyed learning about our nation’s history, but I often wondered why I would ever need this at the elementary level. It wasn’t until I received a note on my midterm from my teacher that I understood exactly why I was forced to learn facts about the 13 colonies.  

Below my grade my teacher wrote, “You have great potential as a writer.”

My first initial thought was, “Well great, but did I get all the information right?” After I was informed that I had received the highest grade of all the midterms, I started to really think about what my teacher wrote.

I knew I loved writing. I’ve loved it since I was little, but I never won any awards for my writing like my peers. When I wrote articles for the local newspaper I generally passed over people’s comments of wanting to read more of my work because I was eastbound and down toward the medical field.

During Christmas break of my freshman year of college, I decided to start researching different degrees that incorporated writing. I stumbled upon Black Hills State University’s mass communications degree, and at that moment I would describe myself as a kid in a candy store because I lost it.

I showed my parents within minutes and couldn’t remember the last time I was so passionate about a subject. I quickly looked at what LCCC offered in terms of mass communications and I found what would become my home for the next year: Wingspan.

As cliché as I might sound, I remember my first day at Wingspan like it was yesterday. I walked into a room full of people of all ages and backgrounds who seemed more like a family with inside jokes and sarcastic comments.

It was intimidating because right from the get-go we were assigned stories and ads and were told that it was perfectly normal to feel like your head was going to explode.

I knew nothing, not a thing but when I got back to my dorm I instantly started making phone calls for interviews. It was like I had been doing it for years. The stress I felt was a 180 from when I was pursuing health sciences. Instead of memorizing all the bones in the human body, I was under pressure to make deadlines and count on other people to call me back for interviews. And the truth is I couldn’t get enough of it, and I still can’t to this day.

I have interviewed a Wyoming native who writes for National Geographic. I traveled to Dallas and listened to Hugh Aynesworth, an American journalist, talk about his experiences the days President John F. Kennedy and Lee Harvey Oswald were killed. I recently attended an ENDOW meeting in Jackson, Wyoming, where I sat in a room for two days with Gov. Matt Mead and Wyoming’s most successful individuals to talk about saving Wyoming’s economy.

Cloud nine doesn’t even begin to describe where I am at in my life. I could have never have done it without Wingspan, my instructors, and the people I have I met along the way who have made me laugh and, at times, made me want to lose my mind.

I am forever indebted to my history teacher who made me realize my calling, and this newspaper that has allowed me to expand on my mass media skills and meet fascinating, remarkable people.

To all of you, thank you.

And for all those college students who are lost and have no idea what subject they want to be $20,000-30,000 of debt for, it’s OK. No one expects you to know at 18 what you want to do for the rest of your life. Revel in your college years and find what drives you to be successful.

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