Today is a special day for me. For starters, it’s the eighth anniversary of my first published article. My first assignment was covering the midnight release of Grand Theft Auto IV for Jeff Haywood of The Grand Rapids Press‘ blog, and if you’d have told me where that would’ve landed me I wouldn’t have believed you.
I wouldn’t be where I am today had he not answered that email from a know-nothing random reader. Because I’d never actually done any sort of journalism prior to that, I attached a college research paper about the government’s role in regulating violent and adult content in video games. I guess he saw potential among those thousands of words.
My career is the result of the help, guidance and mentorship from Jeff, my very good friend John Serba, Mitch Dyer who’s now a writer at EA Motive in Canada, Polygon’s Ben Kuchera for nightly advice and Ben Gilbert who helped get me my job at Engadget.
Being a journalist has been the best college job I could’ve ever asked for. The experience I’ve picked up these past eight years has been invaluable and something I never could’ve learned in school, regardless of where I was studying. I enrolled at Grand Rapids Community College in 2004 after taking a break upon finishing a vocational program for auto mechanics. A dozen years later, I’m finally close to kissing college goodbye.
My path has been far from conventional. It took me more time to earn my bachelor’s than it takes most people to earn a doctorate, for instance, and prior to me taking out student loans, I was working night and day (literally) to make sure my monthly freelance income could cover my tuition payments.
There were plenty of times where I’ve been discouraged and felt like quitting both school and writing, too. But thanks to the people mentioned above, I did neither. Tomorrow I graduate from Grand Valley State University with my bachelor’s degree. And while I still have to take a few classes over the summer to fulfill the requirements needed to get my diploma, the light at the end of the tunnel is blinding.
I still haven’t fully processed the fact that it’s almost over, but I don’t think it’ll take long to get used to. Thank you to everyone who’s believed in me and continues to do so — I’ll try to not let you down.