Journalism took me from the hills of southeast Ohio to the concrete jungle of New York City. In May, it even brought me here, to eastern Kentucky.
I grew up in a small town very similar to Hazard that overlooks the Ohio River. With the nearest news station more than an hour and a half away from my doorstep, a career in news was never something I planned. However, I have come to understand in recent years that life tends to lead you in the direction you are destined to go.
I was in fifth grade when I first realized the importance of TV news and the power it held in the world. It was a sunny, September morning when my teacher silently rose from her desk and turned on the television. None of us realized at the time what was happening, but we did what any child would do. We watched. That day was September 11, 2001. Watching live coverage on the Today Show of the attacks on the World Trade Center, I knew I was experiencing history as it happened. It would take another five years for me to realize that someday I wanted to be the one covering those moments.
For my Ohio Graduation Test essay, I was given the prompt what do you want to be when you grow up. My mind immediately returned to 9/11. As I jotted down my response, it hit me. I was going to go into broadcasting.
Fast forward to college, where I enrolled at Ohio University?s journalism school. In addition to my course work, I volunteered at WOUB, our university-run PBS station. While there, I reported, produced and anchored daily newscasts. It was in that newsroom that I gained all the experience I would need to obtain the two greatest accomplishments of my life: an internship with the Today Show and a job at WYMT.
Waking up in NYC on my first day of my senior year of college was a dream come true. While my friends were back in Ohio meeting new professors, I was shaking hands with Matt Lauer. An opportunity I had wished for since I was a freshman the fact that I had finally realized it only reassured me more that I had chosen the right career path.
Now, here I am. Doing exactly what I want right out of school. No, I am not in the Big Apple anymore. But that is okay. I truly believe every experience in life is one you can learn and grow from. And since moving to Kentucky, I have been blown away by the kindness and generosity of nearly everyone I meet. So thank you for so warmly welcoming this "Yankee" to your community!