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Placing purpose over profit

How becoming a journalist changed my life, altered my definition of success.

The+Sidekick+editor-in-chief+Amelia+Vanyo+did+not+realize+how+much+she+would+love+journalism+until+she+joined+The+Sidekick+her+junior+year.+After+two+years+on+staff%2C+Vanyo+has+learned+several+lessons+that+have+made+her+more+successful+than+she+ever+could+have+hoped.
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Placing purpose over profit

The Sidekick editor-in-chief Amelia Vanyo did not realize how much she would love journalism until she joined The Sidekick her junior year. After two years on staff, Vanyo has learned several lessons that have made her more successful than she ever could have hoped.

The Sidekick editor-in-chief Amelia Vanyo did not realize how much she would love journalism until she joined The Sidekick her junior year. After two years on staff, Vanyo has learned several lessons that have made her more successful than she ever could have hoped.

Karis Thomas

The Sidekick editor-in-chief Amelia Vanyo did not realize how much she would love journalism until she joined The Sidekick her junior year. After two years on staff, Vanyo has learned several lessons that have made her more successful than she ever could have hoped.

Karis Thomas

Karis Thomas

The Sidekick editor-in-chief Amelia Vanyo did not realize how much she would love journalism until she joined The Sidekick her junior year. After two years on staff, Vanyo has learned several lessons that have made her more successful than she ever could have hoped.

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You might think that getting awards, being placed in competitive positions or singing solos were the highlights of my high school career. But personally I do not see my success as relating to any honors or status.

 

For me, my greatest accomplishment in high school was a story I wrote my junior year called Construction on Denton Tap impacting student safety.

 

The story was my very first as a staff writer for The Sidekick. It covered an important issue concerning the fence that runs down Denton Tap Road, preventing students from running across the street, and it was the beginning of two years of lessons that would change my life.

 

My second greatest accomplishment in high school was every single story I wrote after that.

 

The Sidekick taught me several of the most important lessons of my life.

 

One of those lessons was how incredibly exciting and rewarding it is to write about something controversial.

 

From fences that save student’s lives, human labor’s ties to T-shirt manufacturing, how to talk about mental health, fake news, international opinions on American politics, the Women’s March, March for Science, the word “retard”, sexual assault, vaping, gun violence, March for Our Lives, and traffic safety, I found a burning passion for uncovering hidden truths, making change and pursuing a better world through publishing factual information.

 

I love the thrill of hitting publish on a hard hitting story. Even if the story gets next to no views, the act of writing it gives me a sense of pride that I receive nowhere else. This is in part because the research that goes into publishing the stories I write often results in me becoming an expert in something I did not understand to begin with. To me, the acquisition of knowledge is liberating in a society that uses misinformation to suppress people.

 

Another lesson I learned was how important it is to celebrate other people’s success rather than focusing on your own.

 

I learned this lesson two ways: in writing and in reading.

 

Through writing other people’s stories, from the hiring of new teachers, the impossible life lived by senior Ashna Pathan, following Coppell Marching Band to State finals, telling the stories of Coppell Band students going to All State, local musicals, several sporting events, and a sophomore drum major, I learned to get excited about the feats of the people around me.

 

Through reading the stories of my fellow staff members, and watching them grow as photographers and designers, I learned to celebrate their growth in journalism as much as my own. I learned very quickly that high school is much more enjoyable when you are not trying to outdo people, but instead become your peers personal cheerleader and enjoy others success rather than being self obsessed.

 

The third lesson I learned was about finding a story in everyone and everything around you. This makes the world a much more interesting place, and helped me to realize that the world (believe it or not) does not revolve around me. Everyone is just as unique as the next person.

 

From writing a story about a community coming together to run, finding an inherent truth through talking to Mihir Chadaga, and getting to know the incredible Charlie Villalobos, feature stories made me a more understanding person.

 

This next lesson is a little funny, but it is one that has made a huge impact on my life. With every story I have written, I have gotten better at picking up the phone and calling someone.

 

For whatever reason, I have always been really good at communicating with people in person, but, for the longest time, talking on the phone was really difficult for me. Now, I do not even think twice when I dial a source for an interview – or call to order pizza – which is a relief, because I think my friends were getting tired of making phone calls for me.

 

I also learned the power of honesty. I wrote a lot my junior year about Fake News, and how important it is to spread the truth, but that is not really what I am talking about here. By honesty, I mean opening up and clicking publish on the most personal, painful stories.

 

After writing three stories about mental health, I learned that the best way to make a difference for people struggling with what I struggle with was simply to tell my own story. This was incredibly hard to do, but getting my own story off of my chest was far more rewarding than writing about how people talk about mental health or the ways mental health could be treated – although those are important stories too.

 

The last thing I learned is that I love journalism unconditionally. There is no activity that has been as emotionally rewarding. There is no one who has made a bigger impact on my life than The Sidekick staff and adviser Chase Wofford. There is no place I have felt more at home than anywhere that I have a pencil and paper in my hand.

 

Each one of the lessons I learned in The Sidekick made me stronger and more certain of who I am, and personally, that is the greatest achievable success.


Though the door to D115 is quickly closing, the door to journalism is just beginning to open, and I cannot wait to see what lies on the other side.

 

Follow Amelia @ameliavanyo

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About the Contributors
Amelia Vanyo, Editor-In-Chief, Executive News Editor

Amelia is a senior and has been a part of The Sidekick for two years. This year she is serving as the paper's Editor-In-Chief and Executive News Editor....

Karis Thomas, Staff Photographer

Karis Thomas is a senior and first year photographer for The Sidekick. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, working on...

1 Comment

One Response to “Placing purpose over profit”

  1. Pramika Kadari on May 25th, 2018 3:40 pm

    I love this so much! Good luck at your internship this summer and at college!

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