Coming into the highly ranked School of Media and Journalism, I was confident I’d have a lot to learn from the experienced faculty and students who fill the building that’s become my home, decorated in years of awards.

What I didn’t know is that so much of what I learned came from lessons from individuals without any connection to the School. They were athletes and farmers, children and grandparents, sexual assault victims and nonprofit leaders.

Being a journalism major allowed me to meet people I may not otherwise have ever met, to learn their stories, and get out of the campus bubble that’s so easy to become absorbed by.

They let me into their lives, into their vulnerable states, into their homes and taught me more than a class lecture ever could.

So to all the individuals who graciously shared their stories with me, thank you.