A trip down memory lane

Published 8:30pm Saturday, May 31, 2014

Well, my first two weeks are in the books. At times, it’s felt a lot more like a month. Between jumping right back in with reporting, learning everything associated with lifestyles editor and moving, I’ve hardly had a chance to catch my breath.

I can hardly believe I (finally) graduated from college. I spent five years balancing school, work and friends. Sometimes, especially my last year, I may have spent more time with my friends and less time studying than I should have, but I made it. That chapter is closed, and the Starkville I loved and called home for so long will never quite be the same.

This week, I covered the Brookhaven School District awards ceremony. Walking back through the Brookhaven High School doors felt almost like time traveling. For a second, I was 17 again. The lobby looked the same, smelled the same. I walked in and saw familiar faces, all my old teachers – and not just high school teachers. The first familiar face I saw was Mrs. Cox, my first grade teacher. I even saw a teacher from my senior year, Mrs. Brewer, get recognized for retirement.

But there was one face that was missing, one teacher, without whom I probably would not be working at The Daily Leader today. Linda Monroe served students in much more than just the classroom. She worked closely with the First Baptist Church youth group, and she generally was more interested in helping students become a better person than anything else.

I took her introduction to journalism class my freshman year. She published a column I wrote in that class in The Panther Prints. With her guidance and encouragement, I became editor in chief my junior and senior year of high school. I loved every second of it. Well, every second except when Quark (the page layout software) crashed, which happened at least twice a week.

I remember talking to Ms. Monroe one day, and she asked me if that is what I wanted to do. Without a moment’s hesitation, I said no. My reasoning was simple: that seemed way too stressful. My first summer interning here, I ran into Ms. Monroe at the Hansel King Sportsplex. She compared me to Lois Lane, and, yet again, I denied that I would make a career in journalism. I can’t help but laugh at myself now. I had no idea what I wanted to do at 17 and 19. At 22, honestly, I still don’t know.

All I do know is that I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and I’m getting paid to do just that. Writing’s my passion, and I hope to use this section to showcase the best this area has to offer.

With just two weeks under my belt there are times that are stressful, but those have been made worth it when I have gone out to cover this or that and I get to see all your smiling faces.

I see this job as a service to you, all my readers. This isn’t my section; it’s yours because, really, what would a paper be without its readers. I just ask that you bear with me when I make mistakes because I will make mistakes. If you ever have suggestions, comments or questions, always feel free to contact me.

Have a fantastic week.

Julia Pendley is the lifestyles editor of The Daily Leader. You may email her at julia.pendley@dailyleader.com or mail a letter to her at Julia Pendley, Lifestyles Editor, P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven MS 39602-0551.