Editor’s note: The following is an email to writer Heidi Knapp Rinella and assistant features editor Lindsey Losnedahl from a former student of R-Jeneration.
Dear Heidi and Lindsey,
It has been a few years since I graduated high school and left R-Jeneration, and a couple of years since I have visited, but I was thinking of you guys, so I thought I would shoot you both an email to say hi.
Ten days ago, I graduated magna cum laude from the University of Houston with a major in mechanical engineering and a minor in mathematics. I am in the middle of taking a month off and traveling a bit before I start work for a Houston company as an entry-level engineer. I am looking forward to staying in Houston, a city that I have unexpectedly come to love. My current plan is to work for a couple of years and then determine whether I would like to go back to school for an MBA or an MS in a technical field.
I am not sure if either of you remember the shy, quiet sophomore I was when I first attended an R-Jen meeting in 2006. I recall being absolutely terrified when asked to introduce myself to the rest of the room. But I did it. And over the next three years, with both of your help and support, I was able to find my confidence. I learned how to approach complete strangers and persuade them to answer a few questions (as opposed to shying away from them and hoping they would just ignore me).
That ability has helped me immensely since then — even though I am not using it for journalism anymore, I used those skills to start conversations at career fairs and interviews, to approach classmates and fellow students in order to make friends, and even to hunt down answers to administrative questions at school (How do I start a club? Why is my scholarship money not going through?).
My writing has gotten pretty rusty over the past couple of years, since I have not done any journalistic writing since I stopped writing for the Daily Cougar (UH’s student newspaper) in December 2010, but the lessons I learned in R-Jen have still helped me a lot in that respect as well.
I mentioned, briefly, that I wrote and copy edited for my university’s newspaper on my resume. When I was interviewing with the company that I start work for in a couple of weeks, that was something that my future boss instantly narrowed in on and asked me about — not many people with engineering degrees have any idea how to write, and it’s an extremely critical skill. I have also been able to use those skills while doing research at school. I have either co-authored or researched a pair of papers with a professor at my university — one that is being presented this summer and another that is still being prepared.
Anyway, what I am really trying to say here is thank you. I have not forgotten about how much you guys helped me when I was in high school and I really, really appreciate it. The experiences I had and the skills I learned in R-Jeneration have helped me to achieve many things that I would not have otherwise.
I hope you are both doing well. Every time I’m in Vegas, I pick up my parents’ copy of the R-J and search for familiar names to see what you’ve been up to.
2006-2009 R-Jeneration Team Mem ber
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