I began my undergraduate career with the intention of becoming an editor one day. Although fiction was my passion and still remains my favorite form of writing, I wanted to do something I deemed “practical” for my education. Because I had just fallen into the depths of politics my senior year of high school, I wanted to explore the world of journalism.

So far, it’s been a fun ride. I began as the arts and entertainment writer, moved up to A&E editor, and landed the position of executive editor, where I also took on the op/ed section as a means of saving money (and because we were understaffed). I’ve received hate mail that attacked the paper, hate mail that attacked me personally and disrespectful Facebook comments (and not just from random strangers either). It seems my most racy articles comes from the op/ed section, and that’s fine with me. In my opinion, receiving any feedback proves that someone’s read what I have to say, even if they disagree.

I grew up in a family that’s used to arguing, and I don’t say that to embarrass my family. We fight because we speak the truth, even if it hurts. I’ve come to the belief that if families don’t fight sometimes, then they’re not telling each other the truth. In any intro journalism courses, students learn that journalism seeks to uncover the truth. In the op/ed section, that’s a place for me to speak my truth.

Granted, my philosophy is: What’s going to stir the pot? Most people would call me antagonistic, but I would argue the best op/ed articles talk about the hard issues – the controversial topics most people are too afraid to introduce at the dinner table or the conversations that typically get thrown around in coffee shop circles. Perhaps I’m too liberal for my own good (as many would believe), but I would say that considering perspectives different from your own is the best way to learn more about yourself and other people.

To end, I challenge you to consider a topic most people don’t dare mention or talk about. Consider what’s interesting about that topic. Then, with the utmost respect and your specific truth, I dare you to introduce that topic with a close friend, someone that’s willing to uncover the depths of this topic with you, and see if you can understand more about your beliefs and how they have impacted your thinking.

When you’re done, send it to the East Tennessean (or your local newspaper) for review and publication. Welcome to journalism, my friends.