Dear Anna Camden,
When you read this letter, you’ll probably think, “did someone write me a letter?” Undoubtedly, yes. I wrote you a letter because you inspired me to pursue my dreams and make good decisions for my life. I want to tell you about the huge impact you left on me. So, I filled this letter with gratefulness and appreciation.
Penn State stands out for its reputable athletics programs. Student-athletes always carry over the school spirit from game days into their everyday lives. In my mind, student-athletes who play sports at such a high level always enjoy life. Many of them gained thousands of followers on social media, where they share their lives and sponsorships with business companies to the public. From just watching them on social media they seem like they don’t ever experience bad days.
However, in our class last fall, your talk reframed my mind on this stereotype.
“It’s very normal to have bad days. Just because I don’t post my bad days on social media doesn’t mean I don’t have them.” This short talk made me think for a long time. As a college student who doesn’t play sports, I must admit that I experience bad days. When I get a very low score on an exam or procrastinate on finishing homework, negative feelings consume me. I thought only “normal” students experienced those emotions. Yet, you taught me that as human beings, even popular student-athletes deal with these feelings related to school too. In addition to schoolwork, you also need to worry about your sport.
Still, under such high-pressures, I never see you complain about your life. You only show thankfulness.
I felt shocked. I couldn’t say that I 100 percent love my current life. I complain about my professors, homework, friends and even parents all the time. I never thought about the importance of showing appreciation for my life until I met you. Anna, thank you for changing my mindset with your gratitude. I decided to make some changes and step away from my negative mental environment. So last week I bought a journal to write down one thing that I feel blessed for every day. When I open the journal each night I can sense the positive energy coming out of it. This habit helps me to track my growth and reminds me to appreciate my life every day. Anna, thank you for taking actions in your life to positively influence how I view mine.
In addition to obtaining gratitude, I found a “different you” on social media.
By watching your TikToks I felt as if I got to step into your world. Each video provided me with an opportunity to understand how you manage your different identities. Your videos showed me that basketball consumes a large percent of your life. Yet, as a broadcast journalism student you still find time in your busy schedule to interview people for your broadcast channel, “Courtside with Camden.” I admire the way you find balance between basketball and journalism in your life.
I look up to you Anna. I’m also working towards my dreams, so I want to share with you a little bit of my personal experience. This semester, I grew from a lifestyle candidate into a general sports reporter for “The Daily Collegian”, a student-run newspaper outlet at Penn State. Interviewing athletes and writing features turned into my responsibilities.
A couple days ago, I talked to my editors about writing a story on the experiences of students who live near student-athletes. The editors told me that I might come across some difficulty finding sources since we don’t know which residence halls the athletes live in. After I heard their suggestions, I initially wanted to give up on my story idea. I asked myself multiple times that day if I really could do this story.
As I started to doubt myself, I thought about you Anna. I thought about what you once said, “If you believe something, you better stick to it and don’t let anyone get the chance to change your mind.” This advice encouraged me to persist with my story idea. The process of interviewing sources did take more time than I planned. Fortunately, with the help of other reporters and students, I got all the interviews I needed and completed the story.
You probably don’t know this, but your broadcast channel on YouTube helps me a lot during my interviewing process.
I learned a lot of interview questions and skills by watching all the episodes of “Courtside with Camden.” Last semester when I interviewed some of my sources I often felt stuck as I tried to come up with new questions to ask. The silences between myself and the interviewee caused uncomfortable levels of awkwardness. However, after I checked out your videos, my level of complication when interviewing people dramatically decreased. When I watched your videos, I realized that I could conduct interviews conversationally. So, during my next interview with one of the talented athletes, I treated it like a talk between friends instead of overthinking my next question. Thanks to your guidance, my interview came out great.
Anna, as a captain of the Lady Lions, a journalist and a woman, you inspire so many girls to chase their dreams.
I’m one of the young women who feels lucky that I got the chance to meet you. I see you as my motivator. Thank you for your huge impact on me. Thank you for all the lessons that you taught me. I am proud to call you my role model as I go through my college career. Thank you for teaching me these incredible life lessons and showing me what a role model should look like. I hope to grow as an independent strong woman and a journalist in the future…just like you.