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Opinion: My thank you to GRCC

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Two years ago when I woke up for my first day of college I slept through the alarm three times.

In a panic, I rushed to get ready and drove down to school, hoping I wouldn’t get lost like the first two times I traveled to campus to get books and go to orientation. Fortunately I didn’t, and made it to the parking ramp where I (unfortunately) couldn’t find a spot and had to drive around the never ending circle that is the GRCC parking lot past 9 a.m. I then rushed through the doors and went to my class, well what I thought was my class.

I was on the wrong floor and realized after already being 20 minutes late, I had to go to a different classroom. I finally made it, and my professor in my Reading 098 class said, “This isn’t high school. We don’t stop for you in the future, don’t make a habit of this.”

I thought to myself, “Yeah, this isn’t high school, and maybe it isn’t for me.”

However, I never was late to that class again by more than a couple minutes. I did my best in all of my classes and was doing well, but I still had one problem.

I had no idea what I wanted to study for a major.

My grandpa would tell me over and over again to be a lawyer, or doctor, or something that automatically is a “money maker.” That just wasn’t me.

In high school I never took the time to think about what I wanted to do for a career. All I knew was I loved sports and I loved to play them. I might not have been able to figure out every math problem or known all of the different kinds of sciences, but I could tell you any stat from any player on a sports team in the state of Michigan or talk to you about sports nationwide for hours.

I lived, breathed, and played sports every day of my life until high school was done. It was all I cared about, and my school came second to watching or playing athletics. In my first semester of college, that changed.

When winter break started to come around and classes were getting finished I had pretty solid grades all the way through. I had a B in that English class I showed up 30 minutes late to and wanted to bump my grade up to an A with our final paper.

It was a free write, it could be about any topic you wanted as long as you used sources and actual facts about it. So I wrote about something I loved, Michigan football and its rivalry with Ohio State. I gave it everything I had.

Granted, I was never really good at English or reading classes in high school and writing wasn’t a strength of mine. I was pretty happy to have a B but I felt myself getting better and really wanted to prove to myself I was now good at it. We turned the papers in, and when we got them back a week later my professor told me to stay after class to talk to me about it.

Little did I know what she was about to say would change my world.

“Andy, this is one of the best papers on any topic that I have ever read at this level of writing,” my professor said. “You need to pursue this and make a career out of it. You made something I don’t care about at all interesting to read.”

From that day on I went for it. I wanted to be a sports writer. I finished out my first year taking all general education credits but I started looking into the school newspaper and found out I could take a class for it so I signed up for the fall semester of 2015 right away.

The Collegiate took me in, no problem, and got me up and running from the second I walked in. I had no clue how to write an article properly, and didn’t really know if I’d get a shot to write about sports I cared about.

Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood, who was and still is my professor, asked the whole class what they’d like to write about. When my turn came and I said sports she directed me to Zach Watkins, the sports editor.

I was kind of nervous because he knew exactly what he was doing and I had no clue in the world how to write a proper article or interview a coach. My first assignment was to go cover a cross country meet for GRCC.

It was an early Saturday morning, and I showed up and asked around to find out where the finish line was. When the runners finally came in I rushed to the coach to get a interview and it went so well. I got to talk to a couple players, and I thought to myself, “Wow you really can do this.” I went home and wrote my article, I thought it was great. I checked for any spelling errors or typos and sent it to Watkins, Collegiate Editor Kayla Tucker, and Ackerman-Haywood thinking it would be good to go.

I got a text the next day to make edits and I thought I probably had some minor fixes. I opened that article and the whole base of my writing turned yellow with highlights marking edits I had to do make to do it right. I began to doubt if I could actually do this job and worried that I might not be a strong enough writer.

I came to class and apologized to Watkins because I felt bad for how many mistakes I had made, and he told me to not worry about it and that his first article was much worse (most likely just to make me feel better). It kept me on course and from there I kept working harder and harder to get better at being a sports writer.

Before I knew it I was covering basketball games and writing my own opinion pieces about big subjects going on in the sports world. I felt like I was doing something that people would actually care about for the first time in my life. I felt like I was a part of something that I could make a career out of. It was all becoming real.

If you would of told me two years ago that I would be transferring to Central Michigan University to major in journalism, I would have laughed.

Now it’s a reality.

It’s really hard to leave behind GRCC after how special this year has been to me and I look forward to finishing out strong until next fall, but I just wanted to let my team know at The Collegiate that I will not ever forget what they did for me.

I thank all of my editors and other staff members for all the help, experiences, and support that pushed me to keep moving forward with this career choice. Also, to GRCC as a whole, because for anyone who thinks a community college can’t do anything for you, it couldn’t be further from the truth. My experience at this community college means more to me than I can put into words.

It’s been an honor to write for everyone who reads my articles and supports me. Thank you.