The nightly ritual started when I was 7 years old. I would carefully climb into my grandfather’s lap trying not to spill my almost overflowing glass of chocolate milk. My grandfather, who I knew as Pop, would slightly recline in his easy chair and begin another story about his life.
He grew up in the hills of West Virginia, attended a one-room school and fought for the United States on German soil during World War II. He only finished the eighth grade, but in my eyes he was the smartest man alive.
As I got older and started high school, the nightly stories continued. Most I had heard before, but I didn’t mind. I just loved to listen.
I loved the stories for many reasons, but the true impact of the nightly ritual didn’t set in until years after his death. I wanted to be the storyteller. I wanted to witness history and tell others about it. I loved the stories because I wanted to experience what he had.
Now, I have that chance. As a journalist, I am the storyteller and get the chance to be in the middle of what’s happening. The Scripps Howard Foundation has made it possible for this “Mountaineer” to see and experience so much more.
To this point, my experience has stayed in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia and Maryland. I started my career as a freshman at Potomac State College in Keyser, W.Va. I was a part-timer in the composition department of the Mineral Daily News-Tribune. After falling in love with the hustle and bustle of a newsroom, I was given the chance to write for the small daily newspaper. After a week in the newsroom, I was moved to full-time and thrown headfirst into the world of local news.
After leaving the Tribune, I covered the police beat for the Cumberland Times-News in Cumberland, Md. In addition to police and fire, I covered many daily news stories and features including entertainment.
After graduating from Potomac State College, I moved to Morgantown, W.Va., and became a West Virginia University Mountaineer. Since I’ve been at WVU, I have taken part in a two-year project in which I followed a cancer patient. My story will be included in the soon-to-be released book “Cancer Stories: Lessons in Love, Loss and Hope.” I have also written for the Charleston Gazette in Charleston, W.Va., and The Dominion Post in Morgantown, where I will return after this internship.
I will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in news-editorial journalism.
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