You never know when you’re going to find your calling.
It started when I was young but I just didn’t know it yet. I’m a teacher’s kid. I was always my mother’s shadow after school while she was finalizing her grade book, mastering the game of Tetris with her desks or designing her whiteboard for the next day’s schedule. Sometimes, I would even sneak into the teacher’s lounge to snag a soda from the vending machine — because that’s normal, right?
I could’ve followed in my mother’s footsteps to become a teacher myself. That was definitely a career path that a lot of my classmates took, but I never felt like I was called to do that.
My passion for storytelling started to develop when I got older and I discovered the real struggles that teachers undergo. Getting up to go over a lesson in front of a classroom of over a dozen students is only a small part of the job. There are also several hours of planning and grading, buying materials out of pocket and more.
Watching what my mom has had to go through over the years pushed me to have an underlying appreciation for my teachers.
By the time I reached my junior or senior year of high school, I almost nailed down that I wanted to be a journalist. My photography teacher sent me on an “assignment” to write an article and take photos of the behind the scenes of a student-led PSA project about distracted driving.
After the weekend-long project, I just knew it was something that I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
Now, how does being a teacher’s kid fit into all of this?
Well, every journalist has their niche. I’ve always been drawn to writing human-interest stories about the community, whether it be a beloved coach that is battling a cancer diagnosis, how a bakery raises awareness for mental health or a nonprofit organization that donates supplies to relieve the burden for teachers.
It goes back to my inner need to help people. If you know what the Enneagram of Personality is, I’m a 2.
In late summer or early fall, my parents packed up two cars and we hit the road for two hours to Texas State University in San Marcos where I would spend the next four years. I started and ended my college career with the same major (journalism), which felt like somewhat of a victory because I watched my older brothers change their majors two to three times.
During my time at Texas State, I had the privilege to serve on the news team at the university’s radio station, KTSW 89.9. I got to see another side of news that was rarely taught in my regular journalism classes.
Persistence became a mission of mine in my senior year. Despite it being drilled into me that college internships were vital to success, that was just not financially possible for me at the time.
In the months leading up to graduation in 2020, I emailed and called nearly 50 news organizations to get a shot at working somewhere after college. I either received rejections or just no response at all.
But then in my last semester, I got a call from the editor of the Hays Free Press/News-Dispatch, the late Anita Miller, who gave me the best news: I was chosen as an intern through the Dow Jones News Fund and Texas Press Association.
Almost three years later, I’m still with the same company. While it’s not sunshine and flowers all the time, I’m grateful to be working with a supportive and dedicated team.
So, I may not have followed in my mother’s footsteps, but she has definitely helped me along the way to pursue my journalistic interests. I’ve watched her have this undying strength and grace in every single thing that she does, whether that be in or out of the classroom.
My mom has taught me a lot throughout the last 24 years. The most important lessons that have really stuck with me are to love people first, help them in any way you can and do something you enjoy every single day.
Wehring is the Editor for the Hays Free Press/News-Dispatch. She works remotely but can be reached by emailing email@example.com if you have questions, comments or story ideas.