Nevertheless, She Persisted
By Kelsey Thompson
On May 2, 2019, I sat in Syracuse University’s Schine Student Center on a rainy afternoon, my sight set on Hall of Languages as raindrops landed like silent tears on the lounge’s windowpane. I had just signed an agreement for a job in Austin, Texas — 1,500 miles from the rolling New York hills and greenscape that had been my home for nearly 22 years. I didn’t know how my world would change when I decided to move across the country, exactly two weeks after crossing a tassel over my head. All I knew was that it would.
I moved to Austin on Memorial Day weekend, without knowing a single soul in the city. Navigating an entirely different culture, while also grappling with the jitters that come with first jobs, was a difficult balance to manage. I spent the first few months desperately homesick, convinced that I had made a mistake. But there were also quieter moments, those that came and went like a gentle, calming breeze. As a reporter covering Austin’s suburban communities, I quickly learned that Southern hospitality was not a mere expression, but a way of life. I had community members who would give me hugs after interviews, thanking me for the work that I did. Reminding me that the work that we, as journalists, do, matters. I was able to explore a variety of topics that continually sparked my passion for hyperlocal journalism: how Austin’s gentrification gave way to a merging, vibrantly diverse community in Pflugerville; the explosion of multilingual communities in Round Rock and its reflection in dual language programs; how school districts have navigated e-learning for special education students during the coronavirus pandemic.
It took moving 1,500 miles across the country to learn how to stand on my own. That perseverance is something earned, not given to you. That there are places to explore, and people to meet, and experiences to behold that expand beyond the four corners of your comfort that you have deemed your reality. The privilege I have of being a storyteller, the archivist of history in real time, is one I do not take for granted. The world needs journalists. It needs people willing to hold truth to power — not for personal gain, but for the ability to invoke conversations that, in turn, can lead to proactive change. As a reminder of that sentiment, there’s a ring I wear on my right middle finger every single day. Engraved on it: “Nevertheless, she persisted.” A quote from Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s condemnation of Sen. Elizabeth Warren for her objections to confirming Sen. Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney General in 2017. There will always, always be those who doubt you, or wish ill on your success. That’s a fact of life. But when your foundation is strong, and you’ve developed roots that will help you expand your branches — then by all means, persist.
About the author: My name is Kelsey Thompson and I am a journalist based in Austin, Texas, currently working at Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in its Round Rock/Pflugerville/Hutto market. I graduated from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications in May 2019 with a degree in magazine journalism and a concentration in political science. Outside of work, you can find me going for runs through Austin’s greenbelt, enjoying a margarita on a downtown rooftop patio, practicing Bon Appetit dessert recipes, or silently laughing at John Mulaney standup comedy.