Minneapolis Schools Voices is extra special for me because I am the daughter, granddaughter and sister of educators. My elementary school days were spent going to school early and staying late in the library where my mom worked, which means I’ve read a little bit of everything that a Catholic elementary school library has to offer. Don’t even get me started on the American girl doll books, because I can talk about them all day (I had Nellie, which still aligns pretty well with my personality).

I’m from Bayport, Minnesota, and I went to Stillwater public schools following my Catholic elementary school. After graduating high school and spending a quick stint in Shoreview, I moved into my first apartment in Dinkytown when I started college in January of 2019. While I paid incredibly low rent at my first two apartments, it was a relief to escape the racket of Dinkytown when I graduated in May and moved to Stevens Square. 

You’ll run into me at coffee shops, restaurants or on my bike if you hang around Stevens Square and Whittier long enough. I love Tom Petty’s Wildflowers, sewing and watching pigeons out the window with my cat, Tinker v. Des Moines. If necessary, I could play any role in the Broadway show Newsies with no rehearsal– old-timey New York accent included. I’m a former synchronized swimmer and a current fan of my high school’s team, the reigning state champions (no big deal). 

After graduating in May, my cousin, aunt and I went to Alaska, where we saw several glaciers like this one in Seward (photo by Tess Munshower).

My education began in the classroom my sister set up in our dining room, long before I started my formal education. She was so mean, mean enough that I wrote her a note saying “you are the wrst teecher.” The note now hangs in her classroom in southwestern Minnesota, where she teaches orchestra. She’s nicer now. My grandma, a former English teacher, taught me impeccable grammar and sends detailed and encouraging reviews of every story I write. She catches everything.

I miss my grandpa, a former high school principal and college professor, who sparked my interest in stories with his tales about trouble-makers at school back in the day. 

I majored in journalism and Spanish at the University of Minnesota and wrote for two newspapers during my time there– the Minnesota Reformer and El Independiente. I reported on everything from schools to local government to housing at the Reformer, and I covered Derek Chauvin’s trial in Spanish for the international news section of the Madrid-based paper. 

While I learned a lot about journalism in college and internships, many of my reporting skills come from the customer service jobs I’ve worked since I was 15. Small talk at the cash register lends itself well to interviewing strangers, and prioritizing tasks in a busy cafe works just like the inverted pyramid. And once you’ve been cursed out before 6 a.m. over a frappuccino, even the tensest, most stressful interview doesn’t phase you. 

When I started college, I pictured myself going big with journalism– New York Times or nothing. After all, my career goals were to write and to make change. Where else could I do that? Then I started reading MinnPost, Racket and eventually Southwest Voices, and I realized that the most impactful reporting is small and local. People care about what happens to them, and while national news can be important, it’s typically the small stuff that directly affects people. Community journalism encourages people to care about their neighbors, and the first step to making change is to care about another person. That’s why I love writing for Southwest Voices, and I’m so excited to get started on Minneapolis Schools Voices.

My cat, Tinker, loved to drink from the bathtub faucet in one of my college apartments (Anna Koenning).