As a high schooler, I felt lost in my future. I felt unsure about what I wanted to major in at college. Up to that point, no academic subjects particularly interested me. I hoped for at least an idea of what I wanted to do in the future. Before I knew it, applying for colleges would be around the corner.
Later that year, I discovered my love for journalism, specifically telling peoples’ stories. I knew I wanted to major in journalism. However, the way I ended up there was completely unexpected.
During my freshman year of high school, I took a biology class. Whether my dislike of science got in the way or my teacher actually didn’t like me, I never liked biology class or my teacher. I dreaded going to the class and could not wait to get away from her at the end of the year. Little did I know this wouldn’t be my last time dealing with her.
During this time, I wrote for our school newspaper. Periodically, we produced hard copies of our paper and handed them out to students before school. For my sophomore year’s hard copy, my editor tasked me with writing a feature article on a science teacher who fled the war-torn country of Bosnia-Herzegovina as a child. The article sounded exciting until I realized the subject of the article would be none other than my freshman year biology teacher.
My journalism sponsor probably noticed the look on my face after assigning the article to me because he came over a couple of minutes later to ask what was wrong with the article assignment. I told him that this teacher taught me in my freshman year bio class and that I did not get along with her. He offered to switch my article assignment, but I told him there would not be a problem and I would write the article.
I emailed her and set up an interview for the next day after school. The whole day, I dreaded the interview, but 3:05 p.m. finally hit, and I went down to her room to begin the interview. I sat down across from her desk with a set of questions ready at my hand.
While I walked into the interview just hoping I would get out of there with a couple of good quotes, what happened next took me by complete surprise.
I sat with her for over an hour, and after my first question, I completely abandoned the list I came in with. Every follow-up question came to me naturally. This was the first time I conducted an interview that felt less like a coordinated question-and-answer session and more like a free flowing conversation. I never heard a more interesting story.
This biology teacher, whom I desired to get away from and dreaded interviewing, changed the way I look at journalism. I realized that the power lay with me to tell stories that people likely would never hear otherwise. I could tell hundreds of students this teacher’s story and let them share the same level of intrigue I felt when interviewing her.
That night, I went home and wrote the article, having it ready for my editor the next day. This article changed a lot for me. It helped me achieve the editor position on the paper for my junior and senior years of high school. More importantly, it helped me realize that I wanted to major in journalism. Sharing her story ignited my passion for writing and for telling the stories of voices seldom heard.