I am stronger
This summer, I took a big risk by coming to the journalism program at the National High School Institute. I haven’t been away from home for five weeks in my entire life. My friends live at my house – I actually own a frat called “Phi Kappa Kerth.” I struggled with the idea of leaving my friends, my family and my girlfriend. A lot can happen in five weeks. A lot of things that I was afraid of.
None of them happened.
My frat is still intact. My friends will be home when I get there. I’m still with my girlfriend. And now, I emerged from cherubs as a better writer and a better person.
Before cherubs, I never received criticism as a writer. My newspaper moderator placed a lot of trust in my hands by giving me the title of editor-in-chief as a junior. I loved that, but it wasn’t very good for me.
You cannot learn without someone looking over your shoulder. You don’t improve when someone or yourself doesn’t set a goal. I thank Bret Begun, my instructor, for encouraging me to find a plateau. Thanks to him, I believe that I improved more than I had expected before coming to cherubs.
As a writer, I am much stronger than before this program. Bret’s criticism allowed for me to push my pride aside and accept my role as a protégé. Every week, he sat down with me and told me my weak points. When I wasn’t with him, I kept waxing on and waxing off until I felt satisfied. No matter how far I drove myself, Bret always wanted more. Perfection was impossible, and I appreciated that.
I met a lot of people along the way. I am stronger through David Kipke, who reminded me that, “if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.” I am stronger through Jesse Heussner, who I realized thinks quite similarly to me. I am stronger through DJ Sixsmith, who never gives up on a chase. I am stronger through Ross Gordon, who was always there when it mattered.
I am stronger through Tommy Carroll, who proved that anything is possible. I am stronger through Jeffrey Eisenband, who remained strong amidst a life-changing decision. I am stronger through Alex McClung, who hung in there when times were tough. I am stronger through Andrew Kallick, who can handle any amount of harassment from the bros.
I am stronger through Amanda Golden, who opened up to people she trusted. I am stronger through Nina Goldman, who laughed after making a mistake. I am stronger through Ileana Najarro, who chose to share life-changing experiences. I am stronger through Erica Hendry, who proved that life shouldn’t always be taken seriously.
I am stronger through Ben Breuner, who is honest and well-rounded. I am stronger through Brad, the tour guide on the Chicago River, because I really don’t want to end up like him. I am stronger through Meryl Hayes, who never ceases to amaze everyone with her antics. I am stronger through Paul Takahashi, because God gives me strength, obviously.
I have not spoken to every cherub. I regret that. But those who have made an impression on me I will remember for the rest of my life. I walked in scared and stepped out strong.