Senior Associate News Editor Juliana Garcia

I fell into journalism.

College always seemed mandatory, even as a first-generation student. But that didn’t mean I knew what I wanted to do. When I was little, I wanted to be an artist — only because I could color inside the lines really, really well. Other than that, all I knew was school.

Year after year, I put my all into my schoolwork. I wasn’t involved in any extra-curricular activities and I didn’t spend spare time thinking about the details of my future, I only knew I wanted it to be different. I told myself I’d go out-of-state for college, get away from Kansas City.

By the time junior year came around, I only applied to the University of Kansas. Out-of-state was expensive. I selected "undecided" when the application asked for a major decision. I had no clue what I was interested in. After spending a year in general courses, I decided to take three classes sophomore year: Accounting 200, Sociology 104 and Journalism 101. By September, I applied for the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications. Kerry Benson, the queen herself, deserves credit for that.

But for a year-and-a-half, I avoided the Kansan. I was scared of rejection, for one. It felt like I was late to the game, like everyone my age would have already made connections with one another. I wouldn’t have a place. Or, I’d discover journalism wasn’t my calling. Frankly, I couldn’t have stomached telling my supportive, hard-working parents I needed to find a new path.

The Kansan came into my life through Journalism 550, the reporting class. All our work for the class would be published in the Kansan. At the end of the semester, I applied to be a correspondent for fall 2018. My senior year. I didn’t spend much time in the newsroom, and I didn’t know many people on staff outside my editors and a couple of people I had had in classes.

Whether or not I felt like I had a home at the Kansan, it was good experience. I pitched regularly, juggled stories and built source relationships. I had the opportunity to cover the Kris Kobach watch party in November — an interesting experience to say the least. I figured I’d return as a reporter to finish out my senior year, until Shaun Goodwin talked to me about applying for an editor position. I went for it, and spent the last semester as the associate news editor.

It was a short ride I shared with the Kansan, but an experience like no other. It took one semester for the newsroom, and the talented, kind-hearted humans who fill it, to become a second home. It gifted me my first co-editors, the hardest goodbyes, Sydney Hoover and Nicole Asbury.

I fell into journalism, but the Kansan found its way into my heart.