Scholarship Connector takes Katherine Hamilton to amazing places
Receiving the Doris Reynolds Naples Daily News Journalism Scholarship has been life changing. The simple phrase “life changing” feels like an understatement as I try to encapsulate in a few paragraphs the complete 180-degree turn-around the scholarship has caused in my life.
I was an above average student while going to Naples High School: good grades, friends, extracurriculars, leadership. But I never had a passion or direction. Hobbies, yes, but nothing I could see doing 40 hours a week for the rest of my life.
As junior year was drawing to a close, and the time to apply to college was upon me, I wracked my brain looking for an answer to the questions “Who do I want to be?” and “What do I want to do?” Now I am a woman who needs to pray in these moments. I told God all the qualities I was looking for in a job and the type of person I wanted to be. Then I waited for an answer.
In a matter of weeks, two acquaintances changed my life forever. One was the mother of a girl I was on dance line with who told me about a scholarship she thought I was perfect for, and the other was a boy I had class with who told me about Flagler College and randomly asked if I was going to apply before deadline – even though he had no interest himself.
Both such strange encounters, I looked into the scholarship and the school – that’s when my life changed forever. The scholarship and Flagler College were both dreams I had never dared to dream for myself. I applied to school and was accepted, and I applied to the Doris Reynolds Naples Daily News Journalism Scholarship and received the top award all within a few months.
Flash forward to now – I am going into my last semester at Flagler College. I’m graduating in December has a journalism major, I’m beginning to apply for journalism jobs and I seem to be at a fork in the road once more. Life has already been a wild ride, and I can’t wait to see where journalism will take me next.
What have I been able to achieve since being awarded the scholarship?
I’ve went on a two-week journalism trip to Cuba. I’ve written stories ranging from pet rabbit neglect to profiles on the families of cold case victims. I’ve met all kinds of people, from pirate cosplayers to border patrol agents. I’ve been to New York City and been inside the Wall Street Journal. I went in a fork-lift to take photos *heights are scary. * I’m the senior editor of my school online newspaper. I’ve been on panels and in competitions. I had the chance to intern with the Naples Daily News where over 40 of my articles were published, some on the front page. I could go on about all the crazy shenanigans journalism has gotten me into, but this article would be too long.
All of these incredible experiences were possible because of the Doris Reynolds Journalism Scholarship. I wouldn’t have been able to afford school, and I might not have discovered how amazing and powerful journalism can be without people who believed in my potential and were generous enough to take a risk on an 18-year-old they barely knew. When I think about the sheer humanity I have had the privilege of encountering– the passion of a protest, the tears of a grieving mother, the strength of a domestic violence survivor, the labor of an artist – I am forever grateful for the life I have been given.
I went from having no direction to having a path, a passion and an answered prayer. To Doris Reynolds, everyone at the Naples Daily News, the Community Foundation, my professors, my family and everyone who has ever believed in me: because you have given to me, I now have the ability to give to others through story-telling, and for that I can’t thank you enough.
Submitted by Katherine Hamilton