Nebraska Society Scholarship 2011

I now wear my residences as a badge of honor. In the past four years I have lived in four different cities in four different states. From my hometown of Walnut Creek, Calif., I moved to Lincoln, Neb., to start school. After my second year, I moved to Vicksburg, Miss., for my first newspaper internship. Finally this summer, I drove east until I hit Washington, D.C., for an internship with the Hearst Newspapers Washington bureau.

In retrospect, each place and the experiences it offered prepared me for the next. After driving across lazy Midwestern highways and through the wooded Appalachians, I was struck with the buzzing pace of Washington. The internship followed suit: I was thrown into my assignments with little guidance and no hand-holding. My training in school and at my previous internships gave me the skills and my nomadic habits gave me the adaptability needed to be successful, and I caught my stride within a week or two.

In my work, Washington was an entirely different beast than Nebraska. Reporting in Lincoln means calling or meeting people and having conversations, asking questions and follow-ups and probably making some mention of the too-hot or too-cold weather. In Washington, in the case of politicians, it often means emailing press secretaries and requesting a statement. The difference in methods threw me at first, but ultimately I realized the work was the same, I just had different material.

The people also seemed to be a different breed, but that, too, was just on the surface. On the street and in the Metro stations, Washingtonians’ feet move twice as fast as Nebraskans’ and they generally interact with each other about half as much. But in my two-and-a-half months, I developed friendships that were far closer than I ever imagined they could be. Although many of my newfound friends were not D.C. natives, I think the explanation goes beyond that. When it comes down to it, people from the West Coast, the Midwest, the South and the East Coast are all people, and good work is good work – just with a different accent.