I’ve been going to Palomar on and off since 2004, but none of those years have been as fulfilling as these last two.
Working for The Telescope gave me a new perspective on my professional life, and has also given me a newfound sense of purpose I would not have gained if I hadn’t gone back to school.
I originally graduated from Palomar in 2008 with a Liberal Arts degree. Afterward, I figured I would move forward and continue working my same job as a retail manager, and hope I fell into a job that paid me well enough to survive on my own.
Four years later, I found that to be a huge mistake. Between my graduation and August 2012, I had worked five different jobs, while working at least two jobs simultaneously the entire time. I felt discouraged, lost my confidence and lost my faith. I didn’t feel like I was ever going to be a success.
It was in August 2012 that I made the decision to go back to school, starting in Spring 2013. My original plan was to go into radio and television; people tell me all the time that I have the perfect radio voice. As part of the criteria, I was supposed to take a communications class.
I opted for an online COMM 100 class, which would fit my work schedule and allowed me to pace myself. During our orientation, my professor, Erin Hiro, brought up the school’s newspaper, The Telescope. She was essentially recruiting for her class, which at first I didn’t pay any mind. But as I continued through my COMM class, I found that writing became fun to me again.
In the summer, I took my first journalism class, JOUR 101, which was also with Hiro. My first big assignment was to interview a professional journalist. I interviewed Matt Calkins, a sports writer with the U-T San Diego. I actually found that to be very freeing, and decided to give The Telescope a shot in the fall.
During the fall, I joined the newspaper staff as a rookie writer. I was nervous as hell, and wasn’t sure how I was going to do working with an actual staff. Fortunately, Professor Hiro issued all the rookie writers a mentor. My mentor was Heather Randall, co-news editor and a veteran of the staff. She issued me a story that at first, seemed bigger than it actually was. I went ahead, did the legwork and ended up with a dud. I came back and told her what I had gotten, and felt like I let the staff down. I almost gave up and quit the paper.
Fortunately, Heather and our editor-in-chief, Cliff Ireland, pushed me to continue on and see what I could get. At the end, I turned in a halfway decent story. For the first time in a long time, I felt accomplished, and wanted more. So I continued to write more stories, and built my way up to covering one of the school’s premier events, the annual scholarship gala that the Palomar Foundation hosts every fall.
By the end of the semester, I really was happy with the paper, and couldn’t wait to come back. I didn’t expect, nor did I really know, that they were looking to me as an aspiring editor. Even to this day, I still feel that this was the biggest honor I have ever received, more than my first associate’s degree. It was because of this that I switched my major from TV and radio to journalism. I was touched that someone felt I had the ability to touch people through my stories.
Within the last year and a half (the first part as a co-news editor, the last year as sports editor), I have finally discovered what it’s like to be in a real-life working environment, where I know that I am responsible for delivering the news to my fellow students, that I have to make sure they know what goes on at Palomar. It has been a rewarding experience. I’ve gotten to work with plenty of talented writers, have traveled up and down California to hone my newfound craft, and have developed personal and business relationships that I will forever be grateful for.
If I had never made the choice to go back to school, truthfully … I don’t know where my life would’ve headed. I can only say that going back has been the best decision I have ever made. I’ll be transferring to Sacramento State University this fall with a degree in a field that I am passionate about.
And I’ll be the first of my mother’s children to go for a bachelor’s degree. That is something to be proud of.
- Christopher Bullock: The Telescope Newspaper | Used With Permission