Stuttering in College Part 3

During my senior year of high school, I took photography. I enjoyed this a lot. I wanted to keep on taking photos in some capacity come college time. What I found was at the newspaper, The Pitt News, they had some openings.

I managed to go up to their offices and introduce myself to the photo editor. He was a pretty big guy, very jovial, great sense of humor. I think he had a lot of other things going on in his life, so he was happy to show me around and take some of the load off. He had an assistant editor as well — but he was just as busy with other things.

For whatever reason, I remember that I would just go up to some of the people in the newsroom and happily introduce myself, stutter-be-damned. There weren’t too many introductions to be made, and once I met everyone, that was that. I wanted this to be my group. Joining theatre wasn’t an option, and clearly the academic-inclined groups were too intimidating.

Since I was only going to be taking photos, the stuttering thing wouldn’t be a big issue. I didn’t have to call and interview anybody.

There were basically two types of photos to be taken — news and sports. The problem with taking news photos was that I thought I’d have to introduce myself. And that I was from the paper. And then ask the person what their name was so I could make sure the caption was right. I was definitely not a fan of this. I gravitated more toward shooting whatever sports I could and let the others take news photos. Also, remember, it’s 1997, so we’re still shooting film and processing it in the darkroom.

By the end of my freshman year, there were definitely some strong forces in play. On the one hand, I was still struggling academically since I didn’t have any good friends in any classes. I was still afraid of raising my hand in class or talking to professors afterward. On the other, I had made a great group of friends at the newspaper and was spending a lot of time in those offices. It was basically the confidence thing again. I’d say that by the end of the year, I was slightly positive on the confidence scale.

The older friends who I had at the newspaper basically took me in and, during my freshman year, plotted the next three years out for me. They said that if I stuck around, I could be editor in chief of the paper. It was a simple path — start writing during your sophomore year, then be assistant news editor your junior year. That was the tried-and-true path. And there weren’t many others interested.

Awesome. People are helping me plot out my life, and they want me to succeed.

Now only if I had gotten that kind of help in plotting our my major.

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