Take risks in college

Gavin Gaddis

Four years ago I took a risk and started my first job in journalism.

Three years and 362 days ago I was almost fired from my first job in journalism.

Writing for a newspaper contributes nothing to earning a BA in English education, but going down that path has forever changed my life.

Entering college as a blank slate is tough, it’s even tougher when one is particularly blank when compared to other slates. Turns out, living out in the sticks with nothing but the internet and homeschooling literature for company isn’t the most effective way to collect friends and life experience during one’s childhood.

But this is college, movies and books say college is the time to take risks, so I took a risk and started talking to people.

Years ago I was editor in chief of The Hill, president of SGA, and vice-president of History Club at Henderson Community College.

Transferring to USI wasn’t as jarring as starting college at HCC, but the same feeling of being an outcast—a nobody—was strong. For the first semester the riskiest action I took was posting snarky comments on USI Secret Admirers’ Facebook page. This garnered a few chuckles from classmates and one truck-obsessed fellow digitally threatened to punch me.

Eight months ago I took a risk and applied to be a staff writer for The Shield. Now I run the Opinion section and manage its three staff writers.

For the  last four years things haven’t been easy. Deadlines have been missed, family outings re-scheduled, yet I keep at the job.


Because this job is genuinely exciting. Each week I get the same electric thrill that hit when the first newspaper with my name in the staff box was published in 2011.

Risks are worth taking when in the protective bubble of college. Don’t be afraid of trying a few weird things. If worse comes to worse, you look like an idiot for a few minutes and then the other 9,000 people on campus stop caring. Spoiler alert: college is pretty much the best place to try new things, even if they’re not on DegreeWorks.

Go out there and take up learning German, write a letter to the editor or start teaching yourself guitar.

Just do me a favor: never play “Wonderwall” by Oasis at a party. That’s a risk not worth taking.