My involvement with Mountain Vista Media over the past three years has been completely life-altering. From sophomore year until now, I’ve undergone a personal transformation that never would have occurred had I not signed up for a journalism course come the end of my freshman year.

My biggest regret to date is not joining the media program in San Diego for the National High School Journalism Convention. Since then, however, I’ve tried my hardest to make it to every convention, lecture or activity that MVM is involved with.

I’ve been to numerous Denver Post Photo Nights, three national conventions, J Day, the Capitol Hill Press Conference, the Bovine Metropolis Theater and many other places to further my involvement in the media program and to gain more knowledge in journalism. There hasn’t been one event that I have attended that didn’t impacted my life in one way or another.

The NHSJC in Washington, D.C. was a stand-out incident for me. Walking around the Newseum until the minute it closed really put everything into perspective. Even if I write a story that increases just one person’s knowledge, then the hard work behind it is worth it. Looking at all the front-page papers of the days and all of the news stories that changed history in the past is what pieced this together for me. Journalists of past, present and future all have one common goal: to keep people informed and to keep people passionate about the things that matter.

If it wasn’t for the media, change would be nearly impossible. Yes, journalism records history. But that aside, it also has the potential to change it – and that idea is what really changed my life.

But taking all of that into account, senior year is still what really stands out from my experience above all else.

Just being an average student at Mountain Vista was no simple task this year. The normal stresses every student at every high school encounters were to be expected, but the shooting threats that surfaced during finals week and the untimely death of one of the student body’s favorite teachers only weeks later piled on the stress to the point where it was hard to keep going through the motions.

While watching it happen was hard, reporting on much of it was a far more difficult task. There wasn’t much time to recollect our thoughts before releasing reports regarding the two students currently awaiting trial for first-degree murder. There was no time to grieve before telling the community that Dr. Jake Herman had died.

And on top of that all, life didn’t take a pause. There were still finals to take with police roaming around the halls waiting for the sight of a deadly weapon. There was still a varsity basketball game hours after students were made aware of Herman’s death.

The news stories piled up, but everyone kept going through life. I kept going to all of my other classes while maintaining the time to write, report, edit and compose the yearbook, newsmagazine and website. The only way I adjusted was by setting the bigger stories on top of everything else. There was no way for me to shut down mid-year because of what was going on. While this made things seem hard, it actually proved to help in the long run.

Journalism turned into an outlet for me to ask questions and ponder over the important aspects of life. If I wouldn’t have been involved in Mountain Vista Media through all of these tough things our community faced, I don’t know how I would’ve coped. Odds are, I would’ve shut down and shut people out more than anything else.

But thankfully I was able to instead walk into the journalism room, sit down and get to work with a team of people I knew would always have my back. And for that I will always be beyond grateful.

This portfolio has really put into perspective how much I have been able to accomplish thanks to everyone I’ve come into contact with and every experience I’ve had. While adding it to my list of things to do often stressed me out and there were many times I thought my skills were beyond the comparison to Vista alumni like Joanie Lyons, Taylor Blatchford or Gabe Rodriguez, I’m happy to have put my life as a journalist into perspective through all of these pages.

Becoming the Dorothy Greer Scholarship winner and gaining the opportunity to represent my state at the national level has truly emphasized the importance and impact of everything I do every day. Win or lose, this opportunity granted to me by the JEA to strive for excellence has also allowed me to gain a better understanding of myself as a person and as a journalist. In and of itself, that makes the entire process worthwhile.

Thank you so much for taking the time to view this portfolio.