Growing up, I shared all my milestones with Rory Gilmore. When I switched school districts for high school, I watched Rory start out her first years at Chilton. When Dean, her first boyfriend, built Rory a car, I decided my first car would be named “Dean” after him.
I filled my days leading up to high school graduation with Rory Gilmore’s high school graduation and as I packed my boxes to start college, I cried as I watched Rory say goodbye to her mother and move into her apartment at Yale.
Although I would not say I “modeled” my life after a fictional character, she inspired me and she was there for me to watch a physical representation of everything I have gone through.
There will never be another television show in my life like “Gilmore Girls.” In fact, I cannot even recall the first time I was introduced into the world of Stars Hollow, or the second or the third. It has always been my happy place. Somewhere for me to return to when life gets scary and unpredictable.
“Gilmore Girls” not only gave me an escape, but it has influenced my life in so many ways. But the most important change was my drive and determination.
As early as I can remember, I dreamt of being a writer. Tugging on my mother’s shirt sleeves to keep reading to me at night and eventually collecting a library that spilled from tall bookshelves in my childhood home.
I loved stories. I preferred them to the real world. My mind would get wound up in the fantasy of Neverland, the brilliant schemes of Robin Hood and the adventures of the pirates on Treasure Island.
Once I started school and grew tired of reading in class all day, I turned to stories on my television screen. It was easier, more convenient and less work to just watch the pixels tell the story for me.
Somewhere down this lazy river I was drowning in, I found “Gilmore Girls.” The show comforted me, but it also led me to the world of journalism. I knew I had wanted to write, but I wasn’t sure what my story would be. With journalism, I could tell other people’s stories, who didn’t have the resources or education like myself, for them.
I recently realized that I am living my childhood dream after my mother posted pictures of me behind my desk at work. My hair was pulled back in a bun, pen tucked behind my ear and I’m grinning like I just won a million dollars. The picture proudly shown the nameplate at the front of my desk reading: “Print Managing Editor.”
This picture perfectly immortalized everything I had been working up to since I first applied to Baylor University with my sights set on working for the Baylor Lariat. But the photograph, also, immortalized another dream of mine in the making.
Several family members, friends and distant acquaintances congratulated me on my promotion from a staff writer to a senior editor on a collegiate newspaper staff. However, the best comments and messages called me the “Real Rory Gilmore.” Even my mother praised the hard work I have put in to get the job and start living out my dream as Rory Gilmore on her Facebook post.
This led me to the realization that I really am living out one of my fairytales right now, but my dedication and determination is what drove me there — not the wave of my fairy godmother’s magic wand.
The first real step I took in this direction was applying to work for my high school newspaper. Although Orange County School of the Arts was no Chilton, it still allowed me to dabble in print news before making my decision on what I would major in.
I worked as the online editor for our student-run newspaper, Evolution. This basically meant that I reviewed all the articles before we published them on our website. Honestly, that part of the job was not my favorite because several other editors laid their eyes on those stories before I could. But I did learn more about AP Style (which is basically a journalist’s gospel if you didn’t know).
The best part of that job was writing news stories. I covered everything from black box theater productions and angst-ridden poetry readings to Trump’s inauguration and the shocking influence the first season of “Thirteen Reasons Why” had on the student body.
Of course, this was all a children’s game compared to what I would encounter at Baylor. The first journalism class I took on my first day of my freshman year was Reporting and Writing with one of my favorite professors of all time.
I’ll never forget that day because he told a classroom of hopeful freshmen and sophomores that the occupation they were interested in would be rough and that they would probably develop some sort of crippling addiction in order to cope.
Some students were discouraged by this and some even dropped the class or changed their major, but this just motivated me to prove him wrong. And I plan to prove him wrong every day for the rest of my life.
Don’t get me wrong, I agree with what he said. Journalism is not easy and it will never be all that great for my mental health, but I am willing to sacrifice that for my passion.
A year and several other interesting classes with the same colorful professor later, I thought I would have to give up. I struggled to balance another journalism class, Advanced Reporting and Writing, with my job at some of the on-campus fast food restaurants.
The class required students to write two news stories for the collegiate newspaper a week as well as one column every couple weeks. As reporters, we received a grade for consistently providing half the stories that staff writers write for the Baylor Lariat.
I still remember the first story I wrote in that class. I wandered around campus looking for an idea to pitch to my editors when I stumbled upon one of the lesser-known libraries on campus. There, I learned about the Institute of Oral History, staffed by some of the most amazing, kind and interesting people I have met in college. The Institute held several research projects that conducted interviews with individuals in order to learn their oral histories, as well as other projects.
A semester later I found the solution to my imbalance. I quit my job working in the food industry and applied to be a staff writer. The interview was tantalizing, and the days following as I awaited their response, I was a nervous wreck. But then, as I was about to sit down and enjoy my little cousin’s school play, I received an email offering the job.
I never thought I would be more ecstatic, but boy, was I so far off. I felt the same jolt of excitement during every interview, every event I covered and every time I read something I wrote in the newspaper. I had finally found fulfillment in college and I couldn’t be happier.
I knew I wanted an editor position the next semester, but I also would not mind working as a writer again. Even if it was stressful and left me in tears in the newsroom, news stories were my drug and I couldn’t get enough.
Following my interview for editor positions, I had never felt more hopeful for the future. I expected to be offered one of the section editor positions (like Arts and Life, News or Opinion), but I was wrong. The editor in chief offered me the position of print managing editor, which basically just means her right hand man when it comes to our print edition.
I took it … because who wouldn’t? But I never thought I would love the job so much. That newspaper is my child and I have learned to love it more than I love a fictional character. Although Rory Gilmore inspired me to go down this path, the Baylor Lariat is the reason I will never leave it.