When life comes full circle

Published 10:28 pm Monday, July 11, 2016

It’s funny how life works out sometimes. I went from being featured in the Suffolk News-Herald to writing for it.

More than a decade ago, former News-Herald writer Ashley McKnight-Taylor wrote a feature piece on my family’s return to the United States. Due to my father’s occupation with the State Department, we had spent more than 13 years overseas in Africa, Europe and the Caribbean Islands.

I remember how excited I was when my mother told me we were going to be featured in the paper. I recall trying to answer the interview questions as eloquently as possible in an attempt to show off my 10-year old smarts.

Email newsletter signup

There is just something about seeing your name in print, seeing your statements quoted in Times New Roman and painted onto the thin paper canvas.

Eleven years later, I now have the honor of providing this same experience for the people of Suffolk.

The daily process of phone calls, interviews and photo excursions can sometimes be mind-numbing.

Often, I have to take a step back and remember that my efforts are not in vain. I have to take myself back to my 10-year-old self, seeing my name in print for the first time.

This keeps me going as I seek to replicate the experience for my interviewees. I can envision them beaming with wide smiles and pointing excitedly to their stories for their family and loved ones to see — much like I did 11 years ago.

The days are long and the pay — let’s just say you really have to have a passion for this line of work. But, it is reassuring to know the people of Suffolk care about what is going on in their backyard.

I love to watch people of all ages — whether it be an old man hobbling from his car or a youngster zipping from her mother’s passenger door — picking up copies of the paper from the newspaper dispenser by the News-Herald entrance throughout the day. I always catch myself watching from my desk, with a grin of appreciation.

A fair amount of my family lives in Suffolk and the Hampton Roads area. The support and fanfare I’ve received from them since working with the News-Herald has been amazing.

“I saw your stories in the paper — I’m so proud of you,” they say, especially my grandmothers, my grandfather and my aunts. It warmed my heart to see how happy and proud they were to “see their baby in the paper.”

It’s been a blessing to work in the field I’ve been passionate about ever since I was snot-nosed. Fresh out of college, I am able to put my expensive piece of paper — also known as my degree — to use.

Life can have a sense of humor. Who would have thought my first job would be at the first newspaper I was ever featured in?

I am blessed to able to tell the stories of families, friends and neighbors. It is an honor to be a voice for the people of Suffolk.