How I found my niche

Emma Tanner, Managing Editor

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” was always a tough question for me to answer. My go-tos were whatever piqued my interest at the moment. 

At age 5, I wanted to be a singer. At age 8, I wanted to be a doctor. Age 11 was my space phase — I wanted to be an astronomer. Then, I discovered art around middle school. Most of my high school years I wanted to be an artist or a writer. Towards the end, I settled on 8 year old Emma’s dream.

I call it settling because that’s exactly what I did. I did not see art as a viable path for me and my parents worried that my “smarts would go to waste” if I followed a creative path. STEM fields did not give me the same spark that the arts did. Nevertheless, I persisted. 

My twelve year plan of undergrad and med school was quickly endangered when I began volunteering for the university paper. I knew absolutely nothing about journalism. I wrote poetry and short stories in high school, ones that never saw the light of day, but always saw journalism as a boring field. I never watched the news, never read the newspaper. My news source was a combination of Twitter, Instagram and TikTok. 

But I was desperate to involve myself on campus. I was not the most popular person in high school. My school was small enough that everyone knew each other by default, but I never felt like I belonged among my peers. I floated between social groups that I don’t even talk to anymore. College was the chance for me to reinvent myself and finally feel like I fit in. 

The Flor-Ala seemed like a nice chance to release my creative energy. I attended the first volunteer meeting, sitting awkwardly and seldom raising my voice to speak. I even managed to pick up a story. It was a sports story. I knew nothing about journalism and somehow even less about sports. I still put my all into it and researched what I could. Looking back, it wasn’t bad for a first article from someone with no knowledge of AP style. 

As time went on, I honed my skills and got closer with the staff and my fellow volunteers. By November, I was set to become news editor. I kept telling myself that I would not change careers over this. It was a side hustle at most. I would do some freelance work in med school to supplement my income. I added a journalism minor to my pre-med psychology major. It was nothing too serious, though.

Spring semester of my freshman year was (for the most part) amazing. I got close with my now best friend as she taught me the ropes. I developed a rapport with the staff, as my fellow volunteers had moved up in the ranks. I felt more at home in student media than I ever did in psychology or pre-med. I wanted to help bring other students into the thing that I loved, too.

After a summer of reflection and contemplation, I changed my major in the fall. It was like a breath of fresh air to finally feel comfortable with my future profession. My passion for journalism didn’t fizzle out either. In fact, I seem to love it more every day.