As we’ve reached the new year, it is hard to believe that 2020 marks five years since I made one of the best decisions of my life; I was just a sophomore in high school and it still amazes me that that decision would positively impact me for the rest of my life, a decision I didn’t think I was capable of making at that age, or even now.
Actually, scratch that. I had to make this decision even sooner than sophomore year; I had to have applied as a freshman, even more impressive than I give myself credit for—joking … kinda.
When I was 15, I made the choice to apply for my high school’s newspaper. It was usually a class for juniors and seniors, but my freshman year literature teacher encouraged me to put in an application, so I did it on a whim.
Little did I know that journalism would give me the best friends, relationships, opportunities and lessons of my school career. When I was accepted, I was surprised, excited and a little nervous. I remember walking into the newsroom that first day of sophomore year, more excited for a class than I had ever been, and also more nervous. I didn’t know anyone or know what I was doing, but I quickly learned that didn’t matter—I was where I should be and this was the path I wanted to take for the rest of my life.
Before I go any further into an anecdote that you probably don’t care about, I should introduce myself. My name is Haley Robins and I’m the new communications intern at the League. I’m a sophomore at Michigan State University—go green, sorry Alex— double majoring in advertising management and journalism and minoring in public relations.
And as I sit here on my first day at the League, just as excited and slightly less nervous than my first day in my high school newsroom, it seems only fitting that I think back to what got me here. Not only did that high school journalism class give me amazing connections, mentors and friends, but it taught me about what I wanted to do with my life, both as a person and professionally.
After being a staff reporter for the paper my sophomore year, I moved up in the ranks, taking on the role of the sole Associate Editor on staff my junior year, and subsequently taking the reins of the paper as the Editor-in-Chief my senior year. These leadership roles, however, don’t define my time on the paper. What defines my time working on the paper is what it taught me and who I got to work with.
The Michigan League for Public Policy reminds me a lot of my high school newsroom: it’s welcoming, professional and promotes growth, and everyone’s working on something exciting and meaningful. Just like the good ol’ OHS Press, the League stands for values that I not only support but find crucial to understand as a millennial trying to navigate the world we live in.
The League applies a racial equity lens to all of its work, and the League’s advocacy spans from housing to healthcare to education. Much like the newspaper, there is researching, reporting, making connections and keeping people at the heart of the story. The League is committed to using facts to help people and make the world a better place, values that were instilled in me in that high school newsroom.
I’m lucky to have had the newspaper as just a high school freshman—and proud that I had the courage to apply—but I’m even luckier to say that what I learned there has stuck with me to this day and inspires me to continue learning, growing and questioning. This is a culture that the League fosters and encourages, and I am confident that this internship will give me those things and more.