Tenacious, motivated, intentional pursuit of a writing career began in 8th grade. In flashback, I see my ELA teacher reading one of my essays in class; applauding dialogue I scripted. I recall writing that essay – at my grandmother’s during a family party – fighting an internal debate about using “hell” in a sentence.
The dilemma? “Hell” brought authenticity to a character speaking in the scene I was writing. But, a couple years prior, my mom washed my mouth out with soap for calling my sister a “fart”. WTH! Using the right word matters. Besides, a little soap wouldn’t kill me. It went in.
At Western Michigan University (WMU), I dreamed of being a journalist with the LA or New York Times. So, I spent five years writing and editing news for the Western Herald, the student-run, collegiate newspaper; and wrote articles – on spring and summer breaks — for a community newspaper.
Plus, the Oakland County government in Pontiac, Michigan, selected me as a communication specialist for three consecutive summer internships. The first internship was with the EMS and Emergency Management division where I learned the critical role dispatchers play in helping first responders rescue and help citizens in emergency situations. The second and third internships were in the Economic Development Division. Self-driven research, reporting and writing efforts supported marketing communication programs targeted at building awareness of county economic growth among leaders in business, financial service, government, and education.
By college graduation
- WMU’s dean of communication invited me to speak with peers on professional work experiences;
- Served as communication intern for Oakland County, Michigan, for three consecutive summers;
- Teamed with a peer investigative reporter to undercover shady landlord practices in Kalamazoo;
- Initiated and hosted Q&A session with Kalamazoo’s deputy sheriff for investigative journalism class.
- Covered 1992 presidential candidate campaign stops, campus events, and election night results.
- Covered press conferences for former Michigan governors John Engler and Jim Blanchard.