Not the senior year I anticipated or signed up for.
For the previous three summers, it had been a tradition of mine to spend time in Colorado with my father’s half of the family. My first summer working 50 hours a week in the bow shop, without the time to explore and appreciate the nature of a mostly foreign land. It only took a few weeks before I began to grow homesick and impulsively withdrew my enrollment at San Diego State University and submitted a late application to Humboldt State University.
My first couple weeks at HSU were typical to that of any new school. New faces and new spaces took warming up to, but it was hardly a choice. Majoring in journalism, I found myself faced with the earth-shattering task of walking up to complete strangers and asking them personal questions in the first week of beginning reporting. This was quickly followed by photo assignments that required me to take pictures of strangers and ask for their names, for print publication. I found myself interviewing professionals in their field, on camera, for video production class.
First semester opened my eyes to a reality where most strangers are willing and eager to share their experiences with anyone willing to show interest. Those experiences became a newfound passion for sharing the stories of my community.
Unfortunately, for me especially, the semester was not without a few hiccups. Less than two months into classes, northern California’s largest power-supplier, Pacific Gas & Electric, was forced to shut off their customers’ electricity in efforts to reduce the risk of causing more wildfires. These blackouts not only interrupted HSU instruction and ultimately cost me learning opportunities with scrapped assignments, the first and only full day without power happened to be my 21st birthday. Instead of going out with my friends, having my first legal drink in a bar, I spent the night listening to Kid Cudi in the dark like I was thirteen again.
The pitfalls of my first semester at HSU didn’t stop there. In one of my rare random acts of kindness, I agreed to give a ride to a stranger. Unfortunately, in life, when you give some people an inch, they’ll take a mile. Non-confrontational by nature, my inability to tell others ‘no’ landed me 30 minutes later with the middle-aged man I’d picked up telling me to ‘hand over the keys.’
Believing my lack of cooperation would be met with violence and me losing the keys to my car, I complied with his demand. Although my car turned up a few weeks later, all of its contents stripped, I wasn’t able to enjoy winter break because my roommates moved out without notice. I spent most of my time scrambling to find a new place and my new roommate.
Despite the emotionally taxing events of the fall semester, everything seemed to fall into place for the spring. My first semester reporting for The Lumberjack. The first story I wrote about the HSU Bicycle Learning Center found its way into the hands of administration and the BLC budget was increased. I was immediately hooked.
By the time California reacted to the COVID-19 pandemic, cancelling in-person instruction at HSU and putting the shelter-in-place policy into effect, writing for The Lumberjack had become my only priority. When assignments in other classes were significantly shrunk and cancelled altogether, I wrote more articles to pass the time.
Over the summer, my annual Colorado trip to visit the family was cancelled by the pandemic. It’s been over a year now since I’ve seen my little sisters and my brother Travis. As I navigate my life in the pandemic, I’ve come to realize now more than ever, the power of family, the people standing by your side when you need them most. I’ve come to find a second family in the friends I’ve made in my short time with The Lumberjack and despite the disappointment of returning to online instruction in the fall, I’m grateful to be returning home.