When I was 16 years old, I wanted to be a firefighter like my dad. That desire was driven by a few different factors, coalescing into one overwhelming urge to serve my community. I stayed in shape, watched videos, read a few books and even enrolled (though never completed) in the Fire Sciences program in the Pima County Joint Technical Education District.
By the time I was 18, I was fresh out of high school with a newfound passion for the English language, a passion that led me to a degree in creative writing from the University of Arizona. With that degree to my name, I walked into the offices of Tucson Local Media on Monday, July 20, 2015. Longtime Explorer and Marana News readers may remember seeing my byline as early as January 2013; I made occasional appearances next to movie critic Patrick King in our entertainment section reviewing various local events, movies, new music albums, video games and just about anything I could handle.
As surprised as I was when I received a phone call from then-editor David Rupkalvis offering me a position as the new staff reporter only a few days (and several completed assignments) later, I have to say it is even more surprising to look back and see more than two years of new relationships, amazing stories, a few missteps and a heap of unforgettable experiences. A recall election, a regular election, several court cases, a few scandals and lots of fun community spotlights later and I am just beginning to understand the incessant call to action heard by many who chose this profession.
Now 25 years old, and still relatively young, I was fortunate enough to be selected as the managing editor of Tucson Local Media, a long way removed from my beat in Oro Valley.
Filling out the staff nowadays are Danyelle Khmara and Emily Dieckman. If you haven’t met either of these budding superstars, or read their work, you’re missing out. They are amazing additions to this news room, and are more than capable of finding new and interesting ways to deliver the most engaging local news through our various publications.
That’s how we’ve gotten to this specific bit of ink, now isn’t it? People have been calling, emailing and even asking me in person: When will I start my own column? Well, now is that time.
I won’t be lambasting government initiatives, criticizing elected officials or trying to tear down social norms every week, but it’s about time the community and I got to know one another just a bit better.
To that end, I would love to hear from readers: What do you think about your community? What’s important to you? What’s not important? How can we improve as a news agency? You name it, I want to hear it. Send me an email at email@example.com or call me at 797-4384 ext. 36 so we can start a dialogue and learn more about one another.
In this week’s edition, we look into the local response to President Donald Trump’s decision to end the DACA program and give Congress six months to come up with a program for the DREAMers; the likely conclusion of Pima County District 1 Supervisor Ally Miller’s recent dust up with some community members regarding a Facebook comment she made; the introduction of the Marana Unified School District’s new anti-drug program; and Ironwood Ridge High School’s close victory over my alma mater, Canyon del Oro High School, last Friday on the gridiron.
That’s by no means the extent of the fun in this edition; we’re also gearing up for the 2017 Influential Health and Medical Leaders awards, which will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 27 at Casino Del Sol Resort. The event, as the name suggests, honors those who dedicate their lives to the health and wellbeing of everyone around them. Check out the bios of each award finalist in this week’s special section.
I don’t know where I’ll be by the time I hit the big 30, but I am excited for every stop along the way.