I never thought I would work and live in the Little Apple, let alone have a career as a journalist.

There’s a few reasons for this. One being that I originally thought I would never settle in Kansas; I started college at the University of Wyoming in Laramie. And two, I didn’t think I would ever become a journalist.

My family is all from the west. My mom was born and raised near Boise, Idaho, and my dad was born near Salt Lake City and still calls Utah home. My parents moved to Kansas after living in Las Vegas, where I was born.

Unfortunately, my mom and dad divorced in 1998, and my dad traveled around the country, and my mom and I settled in McPherson.

I traveled a lot as a kid because my dad was and still is a musician. He used to be the lead guitarist for Neal McCoy, a popular country singer who sang at George W. Bush’s inauguration and is known for the popular song, “Billy’s Got His Beer Goggles On.”

My summers as a child often included sleeping on a tour bus, taking in concerts every night across the country and being surrounded by incessant, crazy fans.

The travel bug bit me at a young age, I’d say, and I knew I wanted to get out of Kansas when I graduated high school. I loved the mountains, the spirit of the west, and I just felt connected and happier when visiting a western state. I moved a lot as a kid — my mom is an educator, and she was a teacher, principal and superintendent at various school districts across Kansas — so I wanted to finally make a move for me on my terms.

I lived in towns across the Sunflower State, including McPherson, Wichita, Park City, Valley Center, Courtland and Humboldt. Humboldt, a small southeastern Kansas town, is where I call home. Although my mom no longer lives in southeast Kansas, commonly known as SEK, I still call it my home even though I only lived there for about three years.

I graduated from Humboldt High School in 2015. I was heavily involved in the journalism program, and loved writing. I can thank my journalism instructor Mrs. Kim Isbell and Anna Ramsey, a Kansas State University grad, the marketing and events manager at the Kansas 4-H Foundation here in Manhattan and great friend of mine, for their guidance in supporting me as a journalist in high school.

But, other people swayed my decision in what I was going to study at college. I was told journalism was a bad industry to get into, newspapers were dying; the whole lot. My mom encouraged me to explore criminal justice and maybe have a future in attending law school. So that’s what I did.

If you know me, you’ll know I am definitely not the type of person that would thrive as an attorney. I definitely do not like to argue, and I am more of a person that needs to tap into my creative outlets daily, so writing is and always has been a good fit for me.

I enrolled in the University of Wyoming in August 2015. It was truly my dream to get out of Kansas and experience the west on my own as an independent young woman.

I loved the school, and I met two of the most amazing friends anyone could ask for: Savanna Page, who is now a third grade teacher at Port Orchard Elementary in Port Orchard, Washington, and Anastasia Marchese, the civic engagement coordinator for the Equality State Policy Center in Laramie. But I quickly realized I was in the wrong field, and the constant snow was also overwhelming; I never knew seasonal depression was a thing until I moved to the Cowboy State.

I missed journalism and wanted to get back to writing. But when I talked with officials at UW’s journalism department, I didn’t feel like it was the type of atmosphere I hoped for. So, I turned my sights back to my home state.

I checked into the journalism program at the University of Kansas, and felt at ease and a sense of positivity as I decided to transfer. It was a hard decision. I didn’t want to leave my friends in Wyoming, but I knew that I had to change universities to get the academic guidance that I sought.

I love Lawrence, and I knew I wanted to live and work in a town similar to its size. I looked across the country, even looked at returning to Wyoming. However, I did not find the right fit for me until I came upon my current job as the city and county reporter at The Manhattan Mercury.

My mom moved to El Dorado, which is two hours from Manhattan, and I’m still close to one of my stepsisters who lives in Kansas City. Manhattan just felt like a place I would fit in at and enjoy.

I have spent a lot of time in Manhattan as my three stepsisters all received their undergraduate degrees from K-State, and some of my friends also live in Manhattan. I love the Little Apple community and all of its possibilities that I look forward to exploring.

Thank you, MHK, for accepting this Jayhawk. Although I never thought I would end up in Manhattan, I am happy and honored that I am here in this community.

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