I sent this letter to a few of my former colleagues and editors at The Rocky Mount Telegram. While my career may continue to grow and impact my life, I cannot forsee a job more impactful on who I am as an individual as the one I took, merely steps out of college…
Rocky Mount Telegram friends,
Hello from Kansas City! Saturday, May 15 will come and go this year with (thankfully) very few remarkable changes in my life. But 10 years ago, on May 15, I was a young woman about to embark on the biggest adventure of her young 22 year-existence. I was about to move to Rocky Mount, North Carolina and be a real life reporter. It was huge.
To this day, I will never forget the two years of my life I spent in that newsroom, trying to convince everyone I spoke to that I did not work for The Evening Telegram, I worked for the Rocky Mount Telegram. (I hope the memo has now been received regarding the name change.) The relationships I formed during those years have been among the deepest and closest friendships of my life. The stories of the residents of Eastern North Carolina I was privileged to tell still stick with me to this day — A kidney donator, a little girl with degenerative eye disease, countless hurricane Floyd survivors, a former inmate trying to do right by his child and even a few tennis players whose games were interrupted by a klutzy reporter on a first-person story….
Certainly some of the work was rather unremarkable – lawn ornament trends, heavy metal band festivals and trends for Prom 2001. But even in the everyday coverage of Life in Rocky Mount, my job was far from ordinary.
While I never fulfilled my 22-year old dreams to become an editor at a sassy fashion magazine in New York, I continue to feel blessed that my young career took me to Rocky Mount. I am extremely proud of the decade of accomplishments (and even failures) that followed my time at The Telegram.
So thank you for seeing some talent in the young writer from Kansas. And thank you for overlooking countless editorial copy errors, tear fests, too many smoking breaks (including the one where I set my hair on fire!) and a myriad of other juvenile first job mistakes and allowing the girl with a passion for telling stories a place to get her feet wet.
Because while I was telling other people’s stories, I was writing the beginning of mine.
Stephanie A. Carey