- July 9, 2014
When I was younger, I always had the same recurring dream.
I would wake up in the morning with my eyes still blinded from the flashing lights of cameras and my ears aching from the heavy shouting of the press attempting to cover that week’s traumatic political scandal or the most popular celebrity rumored to having her sixth baby.
As I got older, I realized the tabloids, politics and glamorized reporting was not for me. I knew I loved to write, and I knew I couldn’t imagine doing anything else for my career, but I hadn’t yet found my purpose.
I moved to Orlando from South Florida and attended the University of Central Florida. In May, I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in sociology.
Throughout my college years, I worked and interned for just about every Orlando-based newspaper and magazine — trying to figure out where I fit in best. I interned for the Orlando Weekly, wrote for The Community Paper in downtown Orlando, served as a digital producer for Centric Magazine and as managing editor for UCF’s NSM Today, and worked for the Orlando Sentinel straight out of college.
My first big story for The Community Paper was a feature piece on local plastic surgeon Dr. Mark McDonough.
I remember driving to the house where we were to conduct the interview and feeling my hands stick to the steering wheel with nervous sweat as my feet tapped an anxious rhythm on the floor.
On Aug. 3, 1976, a tragic fire in the McDonough household took the lives of Mark’s mother and his younger brother, before moving on to leave burns on more than 60% of Mark’s body in his attempts to save them. Mark was only 16 years old at the time.
Mark, his wife and I talked for four hours. I held both their hands while they opened up and shared their life story with me. I could see that it was hard, but they never faltered. It was one of the most humbling experiences of my life.
When I left the McDonough household that day, I called my mom and cried. I cried for the pain that Mark and his family had gone through, I cried for the strength that Mark required now to use his experiences to help others by working in a burn trauma unit. I cried at the complete transparency and rawness that Mark and his wife had shown me—a stranger.
In that moment, I knew I had found my purpose.
Community reporting offers the opportunity for something special — larger than just you and me.
I aim to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. I aim to tell the truth humbly and honestly. I aim to tell people’s stories who don’t have the means to tell their own. I learned that we aren’t meant to fit into everyone else’s boxes.
Everyone has a story. I look forward to learning yours, Baldwin Park.