On May 29, 2013, I was an emotional 18-year-old high school senior, waiting (somewhat) patiently to hear my name called so I could walk across the stage at the University of Akron’s E.J. Thomas Hall, receive my diploma, and officially declare myself a high school graduate and alumna of Hudson High School. As I sat in that auditorium waiting, surrounded by my 410 classmates, it dawned on me that this would most likely be the last time we would ever sit together in the same room. As I watched one of my best friends, and our class’s valedictorian, deliver a beautiful and thoughtful speech, it occurred to me that we would probably never again see each other on a daily basis, as we did during our senior year. And as I finally heard my name echo throughout the auditorium, dead last out of 411 people, I realized that in three months, I was moving to a place where pretty much no one knew what my name was. One year ago today, I had never been more terrified or unsure about what the future had in store for me.
Three months after graduation, I left my family, friends, and Hudson, Ohio, the town where I had spent my entire life, and moved to Athens, Ohio to attend Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and follow my dream of studying journalism. I had grand plans of becoming a renowned sports journalist, covering human interest stories, traveling around the country following college basketball, and reporting on the Olympic Games. Thus, I chose the “news and information” over the “strategic communication” track at OU.
However, I soon realized that the journalism that I knew and loved was not in fact the journalism of today’s modernized society. Long gone are the days of newspapers being the only news source. I discovered that the job I thought I had always wanted no longer existed, but the new field that I had a growing interest in, public relations/strategic communication, was also quickly growing and changing.
I changed my track to strategic communications, joined public relations-focused organizations, and threw myself into discovering everything I possibly could about this industry. I took full advantage of everything OU and Scripps had to offer, and I started to feel like I was in the right place doing the right thing, which is a difficult thing to accomplish three hours away from my lifelong home. I even applied and interviewed for a couple of summer internships, one that was offered directly through Scripps. I received that internship, at a press release distribution company with an office in Cleveland, PR Newswire, near my hometown of Hudson.
On May 29, 2014, I have finished my first year of college and nearing the end of my second week of interning. Though this past year has had its ups and downs, I am so thankful for all the experiences and opportunities I have had and friends that I have made, because they have all truly shaped me into the person I am today. I’m grateful that I made the decision, and was fortunate enough to be able to, go away to college, because I have learned so much about myself in such a short period of time, and fallen in love with Ohio University and Athens. Sure, graduation was the last time the HHS class of 2013 was together in the same room, and I’m still unsure about what the future holds; but I still keep in touch with my close friends from high school, I still want to work in the sports industry, and I’m no longer (as) terrified of the future. Life after high school is not the end, but only the beginning. Congratulations, Class of 2014! I already cannot wait to see what you accomplish in the next year. (It will be here before you know it.)