I was 18 and a very recent high school graduate when a brave newspaper editor in Poplar Bluff, Mo., took a chance and hired me to type obits and wedding announcements. A few months later, desperate for someone to cover a breaking news story when all of his reporters were covered up, that same editor turned to the quiet teen girl in the corner of the newsroom to make a few calls, and type up her notes. That was my first by-line.
Later, about the time I gave up on becoming a high school English teacher, that same editor took a chance and offered me a full-time job as a reporter. When I was 20, the Southeast Missourian took an even bigger chance and hired me as an education writer. I took that chance and moved to a larger town, physically and emotionally farther away from family than I’d ever been. That didn’t last long: the Southeast Missourian newsroom became my family, in more ways than one. It’s where I met my husband, and where I’ve met a long list of other people I respect professionally and personally.
In the last 11 years, I’ve managed to cover just about every type of story possible, first as education reporter, then as features editor and online editor. I’ve had the chance to interview celebrities, break stories of government cover-up, and promote important causes through my writing. Five years ago, the Missourian offered me the chance to oversee editorial for local niche publications. And that’s how I found my niche.
After more than a decade with Rust Communications, I decided in April 2011 to take a new chance. At the time, a newsroom co-worker said to me, “Callie, what in the heck do you think you’re doing?” I was doing what I always do: Leaping before I look.
I have to believe that I’ll land on my feet. Because after a while, all those chances start to feel more like fate.