At the end of my sophomore year, looking for something to get me out of the house, I decided to apply for a job with The Rocket on a whim. I was a student in the healthcare sciences field, the only college writing class I had taken was the class every student is required to take and the only Photoshop experience I had was from the digital photography course I took my freshman year- of high school. My interviewee status as “unqualified” was an understatement. Somehow, the staff and Dr. Zeltner thought that hiring the recreational therapy major who was sweating through her blazer was a risk they were willing to take, and thus began my journey as the assistant photo editor at one of Pennsylvania’s most prestigious newspapers.
The journey didn’t cease to be unorthodox there; after my first solo assignment of photographing a pornography seminar, I was quickly immersed in covering the events of dozens of clubs and organizations and events that I didn’t even know existed on campus. I stumbled my way through Photoshop and using cameras that weighed more than my cats, and eventually, the hundreds of hours I spent in the office began to show. Of course, no success comes from a single individual, and I ceaselessly thank the people who have made my collegiate experience memorable and one that has transformed me into the more-or-less functioning person I am today.
I’d like to thank Slippery Rock rugby, a rambunctious family who immediately took in a timid Christian girl, and made Pennsylvania feel like another home to me. These teams taught me how to speak up, how to be fearless in every aspect of life both on and off the pitch and how much a group of people can truly accomplish when no one cares who receives the credit. Despite all the hits I’ve taken to the head, I’ll never forget the nights of crazy stories, the bruises and the persistent joy of true camaraderie, because the team is always “with you.”
Thank you to my parents, my brother Kemper and my family for always being supportive of me, regardless of how well my outlook on life was at any given time. Thank you to my friends for being patient and loving towards likely the most awkward person they have ever met. To Emily, thank you for making every day an even better one than its predecessor. And to the recreational department at SRU: thank you for the tremendous effort you put in to giving us the best education possible. I doubt that I could be taught by a more qualified, caring and wonderful group of professors.
Finally, I would like to thank The Rocket for entering my life as one of the first things that felt right when everything else seemed to be crumbling. Thank you for all the laughs from the contrasting yet amazing staff members I’ve had the honor of working with over the past two years. I mean, who can say that they went through tryouts for a collegiate basketball team the day after their 21st birthday for their job (don’t worry, it’s on YouTube), or that they spent nearly 72 hours without sleep covering a state-wide faculty strike?
Thank you to Becca for essentially teaching me how to use Photoshop and answering every question I had (there were many), and to the Kopy Korner/Vikings for the personality quizzes and keeping me sane (or perhaps just losing it with me). Finally, thank you to Dr. “Fetty” Zeltner, for somehow maintaining a balance of dry humor, snide remarks and a high standard for exceptional work. You’ve taught me everything I know about the communication and journalism world, and I have you to thank for taking mental red ink to every news article I read and every photo feature I see.
I am truly fortunate for the experiences and people I have had the pleasure of encountering over the last four years at Slippery Rock, and undoubtedly, The Rocket is solely responsible for many of them. Thank you for taking your chances on a Virginian girl with a camera who was far out of her comfort zone.