SOME PERSONAL NEWS
A big change is coming, one that began with a pit stop 25 years ago.
When I was 16, my friends and I were obsessed with college swag. My high school was overrun with Buckeye gear, partly because it was easy to find in stores in Ohio. It was much harder, and hence much cooler, to score hats, shirts, and other paraphernalia from more far-flung universities. (We didn’t order stuff online because this was 1996, and entering your credit card information on the internet was frightening.) So, on the way back from a family vacation in South Carolina, I saw an opportunity. I told my parents that I was interested in visiting Wake Forest’s campus. It wasn’t that far out of the way, I said.
It was 45 minutes out of the way, actually.
We went anyway. I got out, went to the bookstore, bought a Demon Deacon hat and a head cover for my driver, and walked around. I liked what I saw. Then, we got back in the car and headed back north. But before we left, my parents took a picture of me on the quad at Wake Forest, braces and all:
I had no idea that, 25 years later, I’d be going to work there.
So, yeah, that’s the personal news. Last week, I gave my notice at Our State magazine, a place where I’ve had a byline for 10 years and a full-time job for the last six. My last day is March 31. Writing (and podcasting) for Our State has given me an incredible opportunity to explore North Carolina, and to meet people in places that I may never have gone otherwise. I kayaked the entire Cape Fear River! I hiked to the most remote place in the state! I interviewed Hugh McColl and the police officer who caught Eric Rudolph! I followed hikers as they walked their way across the state. Over the last decade, I’ve written and recorded more than 200 stories for Our State, and each one has brought me closer to this place that I call home. I’m really going to miss working every day with a gracious and talented group of writers, editors, producers, and photographers, and I consider myself lucky just to have been inside the building. It’s an experience that’s left me forever grateful.
But in truth, the pandemic made me a little restless, and a few months ago, I started to look at what else might be out there. I talked to a lot of folks, and several them told me about this up-and-coming program led by Dr. Michael Lamb at Wake Forest. The idea behind it was to help develop strong leadership skills and character in students and others who were already getting a well-rounded education and building a specific skill set. That program started in 2017 with just two people. It has now has more than 20 people on staff, and offers classes, conferences, research opportunities, and professional development. There was so much happening that Dr. Lamb and the other staff went looking for someone who could help get the word out on campus and beyond. They posted a job, and I applied for it.
As of April 1, I’ll be the Director of Communications for the Program for Leadership and Character at Wake Forest University.
I’m beyond excited to get going, to work with exceptionally smart, talented, and creative people, and to spend more time in Winston-Salem. I also intend on updating my cache of Wake Forest gear. My Demon Deacon head cover finally fell off of my driver, so I’ll need to replace that straight away.
Here’s what all of that means for some of the other things I do. For one, you’ll continue to see my byline and hear my voice out there from time to time. I still love to write, and I’m always curious, so this newsletter will go on (Subscribe here!). I might be tweeting a little less, although, you know, I’ve said that before. Also, my podcast, Away Message, will remain with Our State and is going on hiatus. But, all of that is to say that I’m not going anywhere. I’m staying in Oak Ridge, so my commute will now be a half-hour to the west instead of the east. My family and I are psyched (My kids have many questions about the Demon Deacon). And I’m ready to plug into a fantastic community and help in every way I can.
So please, everyone, don’t be a stranger. Stay in touch. I certainly will.