I’ve met a lot of people in my year at the Telegraph and most ask me the same question: How did I get here? Of course it’s generally worded a little differently: “Where did you go to college?” “Where are you from originally?” “Did you work at other papers before you got here?” I don’t often get the opportunity to share the whole story, just simple answers between photos or questions. I figured a proper introduction might be in order.

I was born here in North Platte and I’ve never left. When I was a little girl, I’d sit on the floor in my grandma’s apartment and tell her to get her notebook ready. She’d tell me she was surprised I had any stories left to tell her, but I was persistent. I’d begin talking and she’d write it all down in the pretty cursive I couldn’t read.

The pages began to add up and she’d have to buy more notebooks. For quite a while, I’m pretty sure most of those stories were about the Power Rangers — I had a serious crush on Tommy. I think it was his hair. I wish I could go back and read those now — it’d be a good laugh.

My family always encouraged my writing, my mom especially. She’d tell me that someday I was going to do it professionally, I was going to “do big things.” When I was little, I thought the idea of getting paid for my words was pretty cool. As I got older, it started to seem like an unrealistic career path.

I worked for a little while writing sports for another publication while I was in high school, but eventually I moved on from that job in favor of working for the local movie theater. I got caught up in being a teenager and just stopped writing. The notebooks quit piling up, the poems got misplaced, the half-written stories and the novel that I’d started just sat there — I never did go back to those pieces.

I began trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I “grew up,” but nothing really caught my interest. When I graduated from North Platte High School in 2011, I decided to take some time off from my education, with every intention of going back the next year. I ended up getting sick and watching that option slip away.

I took a job at a local pharmacy as a technician and stayed for a few years. It let me pursue my love of medicine, but unfortunately it also brought the “joys” of retail with it. I didn’t mind it then, but I knew it wasn’t going to be a forever thing. I tried a couple of other things here and there, but I was never really in a place I truly wanted to be.

Mikayla Wiseman, a copy editor here at the Telegraph, had worked with me when I was editor-in-chief of the Bulldogger at NPHS. She said the paper needed a reporter and I should consider it. I completely blew her off at first — why would they want me? I didn’t have an education, I didn’t have tons of experience. She kept nudging me toward the application process, echoing a lifetime of my mom’s encouragement. My husband told me he thought I should go for it, and it became three against one. I turned in my application and some PDFs of Bulldogger pages and crossed my fingers.

I started on Dec. 8, 2014, and I truly cannot imagine doing anything else. I’ve figured out what I want to do when I grow up: Share the stories surrounding me. In just over a year I’ve seen tragedy, I’ve seen people overcome impossible odds, I’ve seen the community make progress, I’ve seen support for tons of different causes; I’ve discovered a community I didn’t truly know despite living here my whole life.

How did I get here? A series of decisions, a lot of faith and a little luck.

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