Graduating with purpose

Before attending Augustana, I had only voluntarily been a member of one group: the Hungry Hungry Hippos Club at my high school.

I joined because it was exactly what it sounded like. We sat around playing Hungry Hungry Hippos, and eventually took a trip to the zoo.

I sensed most members were there for the same reason as me. Who wouldn’t want a Hungry Hungry Hippos Club t-shirt?

My parents forced me to participate in youth groups and other church activities, but I never saw the appeal of actually joining an organization.

It was probably the result of laziness, hidden by a teenage desire to be rebellious. Either way, I didn’t want to be attached to any group of people, outside my own group of friends.

After high school, I started working at a small gift shop, while I took general education classes at Black Hawk College. I realized I actually love working, especially in a job where I can maintain some independence.

Even at Black Hawk, though, I had no drive to join a club or organization. Despite multiple professors asking me to join the school newspaper, I wanted to keep my own time my own.

It wasn’t until I started at Augustana two years ago, that I felt a desire to be a part of something bigger than myself.

Augustana had a different feel than any school I had been part of before. People actually spoke to each other, which seems unsurprising, but was a big change from Black Hawk.

Augustana’s environment made me want to be involved in something. Part-way through my first year, I realized I wanted to declare a Multimedia Journalism and Mass Communication major, and luckily, the Observer needed Arts and Entertainment writers.

The idea appealed to me, as I had been considering a similar position for my future career. Nothing seems more ideal to me than getting paid to write about “Mad Men” and David Bowie.

I started writing for the Observer, and applied for an editor position for this school year. I quickly realized the Observer staff was a group I wanted to join, and being Arts and Entertainment/Features editor was a position that suited me.

Through the Observer, I have not only been able to develop leadership and journalism skills, but I have also found (what feels like) my calling.

Working for the Observer has taught me I love the process of journalism. I have always loved writing stories, but the Observer has given me an outlet to talk to passionate people, listen to their stories and share them with others.

Also, working at the Observer gave me the skills and confidence to apply to an intern position in the newsroom of WVIK. Through the job at the radio station’s newsroom, I have continued to gain experience and knowledge in a field I love.

My experience at Augustana has shown me why being involved in something is important, and what positive things can come from it.

Without joining the Observer, it’s possible I still would not know what career I want to pursue. I am happy knowing I am graduating with a clear sense of who I am and what I want to accomplish in my life.

To my bosses, Herb and Michelle: Thank you for your confidence in me, and your seemingly endless patience.

To my advisor, Jared: You are one of the only people in my life who encourages me to actually do my best work, which means more to me than you know.

To my friends and roommates: I wouldn’t be the person I am today without you. Thank you for always being beside me.

To the strongest person I know, Cameron: Thank you for always reminding me why I love life, simply by existing.