Derek Maiolo: Headed back to college — thank you Craig | CraigDailyPress.com

Derek Maiolo: Headed back to college — thank you Craig

Derek Maiolo

Derek Maiolo

I will soon embark on my second year of college at the University of Oregon, a journey that I am both excited and terrified to begin. As I spend my last days in Craig and the surrounding area, I am becoming increasingly grateful — to the people, the schools, the small town, and the Rocky Mountains — for showing me how incredible this life can be.

Coming back to Craig after my first year in college, I realized just how much this town and its people became a part of me. After my first term, I decided to declare a journalism major for no other reason than I liked the journalism professor who taught one of my first classes.

However, I don't think many college students received the clarity I did when coming back. A few months before my return, I contacted Noelle Leavitt Riley at the Craig Daily Press inquiring about an internship. She showed an immediate interest, and within a few weeks I was guaranteed a spot.

Upon returning to Craig and beginning my first day at the paper, I thought my duties would be to run the copy machine and get coffee. Noelle assigned me a story my first day. Every day I came into the Daily Press, I had a list of stories to write: news briefs, magazine articles, front-page news and even a few wildfires.

Before working at the Daily Press, I had not even written a news story. I now have one of the most impressive resumes of any student in the sophomore class. I feel confident in saying this because most students are not even granted an internship until their junior year.

The support I received, not only from Noelle but the entire staff, was incredible. Noelle, Patrick, Lauren, and Andy, my fellow reporters, never forgot to congratulate me on a story I wrote. They were always there to help in whatever way they could, from lending me their computers to showing me how to take a good photo. I am forever thankful for their support and so glad to have worked with them.

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However, I could not have written my stories without the help of the community. The people I interviewed had to deal with a reporter who was still learning the ropes of the industry, but they opened up to me to tell their stories. I am so glad to have experienced this town from a reporter's perspective, to have talked with people whom I would never have met otherwise. I hope people appreciate how unique and proud of a town Craig can be.

When a community can come together and boycott an entire brewery, there is something to be said about its dedication to its values and its bravery to uphold them. This steadfastness grounded me. It made me confident in my own career plans and made me excited to pursue them.

Finally, I would like to thank my parents, who showed overwhelming support of a career with more freelance work than actual jobs. They read and engaged with every story I wrote and then sent the stories to friends and family. I cannot overstate how grateful I am for having parents who are so dedicated to my success and happiness.

Looking forward, I do not know where my career will take me. The unknown has always excited me, which I suppose is why journalism is so appealing.

Through my interviews and stories, I saw firsthand what journalism can do for society and just how vital the trade is for not only a democracy but a global community. My internship showed me how much good I can do with my writing and how many stories are still out there needing to be told.

I want to travel. I want to help give a voice to those who may not always have the opportunity to speak. For one of the greatest aspects of journalism is its ability to make someone feel that the refugee in Syria is no different and no less important than the neighbor across the street.

While I can say I am well-trained in goodbyes, it does not make saying them any less hard. I will dearly miss my Colorado mountains in the Oregon rain, and I will miss the people and experiences of this summer. However, I will not forget the support I have received from this town. Thank you.

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