Finding a place: Junior Champion Journalist self analytical essay Olivia ripps

In the eighth grade, my friends said they wanted to join ODYSSEY. Many of them had siblings or friends that were part of the program, but I was just following along. Not knowing much about the magazine, I remember going into the media center at my middle school to pick up a copy or two to skim through. When the time rolled around for the application process, I decided “why not?” thinking it would be an easy experience. But I didn’t really find out until I got here that it was not. Through my three years in ODYSSEY I have struggled, but this year, I was finally able to find myself as a journalist.

I was not the best staffer during my first year on ODYSSEY. I was not known by the editors for being the most capable staffer, and looking back on it, I honestly was not very good. I started off on the Viewpoints staff and after a semester, I was moved to sports staff, hoping that I would be able to accomplish more than what I was doing on Viewpoints. I worked hard and met all of my deadlines, but I often fell short of the expectations. My friends seemed to so easily keep up, but I was always the one behind.

Olivia Ripps stands with current ODYSSEY Newsmagazine editors Johanna Hall and Jordan Rhym and previous editors Samuel Hood and Tierra Hayes in May 2015. This was Ripps' first exposure to sports journalism.

Sophomore year was not much different than freshman year in this regard. I still struggled as a second-year sports writer. All of my friend on staff were editors, so I felt as if I was not contributing to the staff. I worked, but I still always felt below everyone. However, prior to second semester, I was named the ODYSSEY Newsmagazine Print Writing Coach. I took this chance to really step up and prove myself to the staff, but it still took me the semester to fully understand my role, making it difficult to do so. Throughout my time as Print Writing Coach though, I just missed sports. When applications for the 2016-2017 rolled out, I jumped at my opportunity to become a sports editor. Though I struggled in sports, I knew that it was where I belonged.

Olivia Ripps stands with ODYSSEY Editors Christiana Kurian, Lucia Bermudez and Suncana Pavlic at the Southern Interscholastic Press Association Conference in Columbia, SC on March 4, 2016. SIPA was Ripps' first regional journalism conference and helped her to better understand journalism.

My junior year was really the year where my improvements began to show. I was named ODYSSEY Online Sports Editor at the beginning of the year. Coming into the job, I was nervous, but excited to take on my role as a section editor. Being a section editor was different than any experience I have had on ODYSSEY, so I really did as much as I could to prepare. Coming into the job, I was looking for the success that I had previously fallen short of. I was looking for the respect that I had worked so hard to earn. Throughout the year, I did everything that I could imagine to be the best section editor I could be. In fact, I would often think about some editors that I looked up to, and what they would do if they were me.

Olivia Ripps stands with ODYSSEY Editors Jurnee Louder, Dalace Thomas and Johanna Hall at the National Scholastic Press Association Conference in Indianapolis, In. The conference took place Nov. 9-13 and played an important role in Ripps' growth this year.

I was on top of my game, volunteered for everything I could, and I did as much as I could. There is obviously always room to improve, but I am proud of my work so far this year. This year alone I have had almost 15 pieces published between magazine and on the website. My staff writers have also had pieces that I edited published in both web and print. I’ve finally tasted the success I have been longing and working for since high school started.

This year, I really felt that I was able to step up and prove myself. With a smaller class, I worked more closely with all of the editors and with my staffers, and I really felt like I was able to connect with each staffer on a personal level. Throughout my journey in ODYSSEY, I struggled to find where I truly belonged and I waited to have those moments that my friends had been having for the past two years. After two years though, I have finally found it.

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