This is not an exit

Given the Chance

In Uncategorized on December 5, 2013 at 7:44 pm

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From the fall of 2004 until the spring of 2005, it wasn’t uncommon to see the bundle of newspapers from The Oregonian sitting in front of the principal’s office at McMinnville High School a little disheveled. The stack would arrive around 7:30 a.m. every day. By 7:45, at least one of those papers would go missing.

That’s because I would steal it. I’d then take it back to the student newspaper offices, dropping the sports, business and living sections and hold on to news and metro.

I took a newspaper production class during zero period — which started at 7 a.m. — my senior year of high school. We were constantly asking to get an individual subscription for the newsroom, but the word from the administration was … well, I forget the exact reason, but suffice it to say we didn’t like it. I decided to start stealing the paper.

I’ll never forget poring over the paper’s coverage of Pope John Paul II’s death or Mount St. Helens’ brief string of activity. It was those sorts of features that got me hooked on the paper, but it was stories like the Monday profile and its coverage of the gentrification of Portland neighborhoods over the years that made me fall in love with it.

Reading stories from such folks as Steve Duin, Tom Hallman Jr. and Harry Esteve those days, then later Anna Griffin, Joseph Rose and Casey Parks, gave me a goal to shoot for: I wanted to work for The Oregonian. All of those reporters and their colleagues own their beats. They craft wonderful stories. And, most of all, they provide a range of coverage for the publication they work for, from human interest to utility and everything in between.

It was also during my senior year that I visited Suite 300 of the Erb Memorial Union at the University of Oregon. Even back in 2004, the musty smell of only god knows what lingered as you walked into the offices of The Oregon Daily Emerald. I left that November’s Duck Preview with another goal: I was going to graduate from high school and work for The Emerald.

I chased big stories that year in order to make those dreams come true — I covered gang fights in the halls of Mac High; wrote a profile on my German teacher, whose popularity and mysterious illness made for an excellent story; and I did what I could to ensure our satellite paper, The Veritas, published meaningful stories every other month. Come June, I attended a summer minority workshop at the University of Oregon run by none other than The Oregonian.

I got a taste of what it would be like to work for the paper — many staffers worked directly with the students who attended — and I loved every minute of it. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be attending the UO that fall. Legal residency is a pesky thing.

During the summer of 2005, the only documentation I had was credentials that allowed me to work in the country legally. I would still be considered an out-of-state student had I enrolled and my averseness to accruing that sort of debt kept me from applying for financial aid.

So I waited.

In 2006, I earned legal residence. But by then I had been promoted at work, so college took a backseat for a year. One year became two, which became three and, in January 2009, I finally got around to filling out that FAFSA. I’m glad I did — the timing was perfect.

One year made the difference between leading Lane Community College’s student newspaper the year of a budgetary boon or a by-the-numbers printing schedule that only allowed for color once a month. It was the difference between working with a talented and tenacious designer who helped teach me the value of community reporting and later hired me at The Emerald during its digital Revolution.

And, most importantly, it was the difference between working with two men — one at Lane and the other at the UO — who played major roles in my development as a young professional and helped more than I can ever thank them for.

I can’t count how many people have helped me get to this point. But I can do one thing: work my ass off and make sure that their investment is paying off. And that’s just what I plan to do from now until September.

There’s not a day that I can’t say I’m living out my dream. That’s the reality I’ve lived since April of this year.

It’s also a song lyric, so take a quick listen while I drown in nostalgia over here:

But what do YOU think?

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