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I learned a lot as a student at Western Michigan University.

Some of what I learned, information from when I was an elementary education major, for example, I never expected to use until I suddenly became part of a homeschool teaching team in March. Much of what I studied as a business student directly applies to my career.

I learned the most not from a class, but from my college job writing for the Western Herald.

The Herald is the campus newspaper run by students, almost all of whom are journalism majors. I was not majoring in journalism, but rather was just a fan of WMU’s athletic teams. I signed on knowing that I would be paid $10 an article, my words would be read by some of the nearly 30,000 students on campus at the time, and if I covered the right sport, I would get a free sub for dinner, too.

While I didn’t start with the purest of motivations, I quickly learned to love the challenge. In many cases, all I had was a box score and a coach’s office phone number. I was responsible for crafting an engaging story that accurately captured the game, often while on a tight deadline.

I learned so much from that experience. I learned how to organize my thoughts. I learned how to get those thoughts onto a page quickly. I learned how to handle negative feedback. I learned the importance of asking good questions. I learned the importance of a quality editor. I’m biased, but I feel like I learned how to write.

I thought writing for the Herald was going to get me a small amount of fame, $10, and an occasional ham sandwich. Instead, I got something so much more valuable: life skills.

Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash