Posted at 11 a.m. Sept. 28, 2016
Get involved, get ahead
Editor thrives in school after many life lessons
Asking 18-year-olds to decide what they want to do with the rest of their lives is not a very realistic question. Many teenagers drop out of college because they feel like they are just going through the motions while simultaneously wasting their time and money.
I am a perfect example of this.
I did very well in high school, but after graduation I had no idea what I really wanted to do with the rest of my life. I registered at Laramie County Community College and started attending classes in the fall of 2002, but from day one I had no idea why I was there or what I wanted to do. I began to weigh my quickly dwindling bank account against school and the money won. I dropped out after a month and went back to my old construction job.
Fast forward to 2005, and I was working for Great Lakes Aviation. My schedule allowed me a lot of free time during the day and my supervisors would give me time off if I needed it. So I went back to school. I barely completed one semester before the money problems began nagging at me again, so I didn’t bother registering for another semester.
The benefits at Great Lakes Aviation were great, but that was the only great thing about working there. It wasn’t long before I once again went back to construction. But eventually the masonry grind became too much work for what it paid. I moved on to the oil field. It had ups and downs like any job, but the downs were much worse. Because of the unstable nature of energy markets, employees could put in 16 hours on a Monday and be laid off the next Tuesday without warning. The first time I was laid off, it was short. I only had to weather the storm for five months. Then came the energy crash in 2014.
I was laid off indefinitely. As I watched the bank account quickly dwindling I knew I had to do something else, something I could control. I decided to go back to school again. But this time I was determined to make it work.
I went into my first semester back in the fall of 2015 with a vague idea about what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to work in the media but I didn’t know where and I definitely did not know about all the different areas of media. I always had an interest in photography and video so when I found out Wingspan needed photographers I immediately volunteered. I didn’t know what I was doing, I didn’t know how to operate the camera that was checked out to me, I didn’t even know what DSLR stood for (it means digital single-lens reflex). But I immersed myself in the world of photography and quickly developed a love for it, especially sports and other action photography. The Wingspan office became my place of study and general school work. Near the end of the fall semester I was offered a co-editor position so I did what I do and took that bull by the horns.
The fall semester is now underway and I am right back in the editor position. The other co-editors and I started planning a week before other students were on campus and we will spend a lot more hours on campus than many other students. We work a lot, but the work always has a plan and a goal at the end. We are motivated to work hard because the school pays us to be here on top of the scholarships and other awards we can potentially receive. The rewards of being involved in school are not just monetary. Being involved creates motivation. If you know a student is having a tough time with motivation try to get them involved. It helped me to realize I can have a career in something I love, which further motivated me to begin freelance photography and writing. Students with a real stake in the matter will succeed.