Looking back, it seems like only yesterday I was loading up my dad’s truck to move back home after graduating from Western Kentucky University.
Leaving the life I had known in Bowling Green for four and a half years, I was overcome with an array of mixed emotions.
Though I was happy to be returning to Bullitt County, which has always been and always will be very dear to me, I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of longing as I turned the final page of a chapter in my life I knew had come to an end.
And while I was excited about the journey ahead, thrilled to finally have the chance to fulfill my lifelong dreams of becoming a journalist and making a difference in the world, my heart was filled with despair as I bid farewell to WKU.
These feelings were soon overshadowed by a great sense of anxiety as I quickly realized I was venturing into the world with only a 1992 Ford Tempo, a pile of student loan debt, no money, no place to call my own, no health insurance and no job.
Fortunately there was a man back home who not only took me under his wing from the time I was a teenager and gave me an internship while I was in college, but who was willing to take a chance on starry-eyed young man who had just graduated from college.
With little more than a bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science, a few internships and a passion for writing and public service, I was hired on as a reporter for The Pioneer News by my friend and editor Tom Barr.
That was three years ago.
When I first joined the paper I had no idea what was in store or where my first job would lead me.
All I knew was I wanted to make a difference.
After three extraordinary years with The Pioneer News, I will transition from my full-time position as a reporter to become assistant director of Bullitt County Tourism under executive director Troy Beam effective April 1.
As I embark on this new chapter in my life I now find myself reliving many of the same bitter-sweet emotions I felt when I bid farewell to WKU.
I’m elated to have the opportunity to welcome visitors to this wonderful community I call home, to work with the tourism director and elected officials on policies and strategies that will ultimately contribute to our local economy and quality of life, and to help promote the rich history, the natural beauty, and the unmistakable charm of Bullitt County.
On the other hand, I can’t help but reflect on the past three years and the extraordinary journey that has led me to where I am today.
I never imagined the things I would do and see, that my path would cross with reality television stars, a hit country music singer, a world renowned artist, national and international pageant winners or a Derby-winning jockey.
I’ve reported on crime, social issues, education, tourism, politics, public health, drug abuse, entertainment, natural and man-made disasters, faith and everything in between.
Through the stories and pictures I’ve had the privilege to share over the past three years, my number one goal has been to seek truth and report it.
Never forgetting the heavy burden that comes with the power of the pen, I’ve taken very seriously the trust placed in me by my sources, as well as my readers, and I’ve worked hard to report the facts without bias.
I know I’m not the best writer or photographer in the world, but I hope my stories or the images I’ve captured over the years have somehow moved you, inspired you, informed you, made you think or made you smile.
It has been my great pleasure working for The Pioneer News and for Tom Barr, who has committed most of his life to this paper.
Without Tom Barr I’m not sure where I would be today, but I’m certain Bullitt County and The Pioneer News would be worse off without him.
To Tom Barr, I wish to publicly thank you for giving me a chance, for believing in me and for giving me the guidance and the freedom to do what I’ve always wanted—to make a difference.
To the entire Pioneer News family, I thank you for your constant love and support over the years, and, last but not least, to the readers I thank you for sharing your lives with me, for following my work, for trusting me, for encouraging me and for challenging me.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you.