May 22, 2013 Edition

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It's been a quick 15 years

Gretchen Hunt

This month has been a time of reflection for me. May marks my 15-year anniversary of graduating from college and coming to work for The Times Dispatch.

There are times it seems like only yesterday I was walking down the hall in the communications building when one of my professors, Dr. Marlin Shipman, called my name.

It was a couple weeks until graduation, and he asked me what my plans were for the future.

"I have no idea," I replied.

I knew I wanted to work in a weekly newspaper in the Northeast Arkansas area, but other than that I was at a loss.

"I have someone I want you to call," he said.

That day he gave me a phone number for John Bland at The Times Dispatch in Walnut Ridge. He highly recommended them to me, and I believe also highly recommended me to them.

A phone call led to an interview, and the rest is history. I graduated from ASU on a Saturday and started work at The TD the following Monday.

The people I work with and the newspaper we put out have become very dear to me, as has the community of Lawrence County.

While visiting earlier this week with Kenneth Heard, who works for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, he asked me if I ever wished I had done something different for my career.

I pondered for a few moments, mainly contemplating the fact that at some point in time I might have no other choice but to do something different, and then responded, "No, not really."

Truth be told, I have known I wanted to write and take photos (the two basics of newspaper journalism) since I was in the eighth grade. Throughout my school days I enjoyed working on school newspapers and helping put together the school annual.

When it came time to fill out my college application, it asked for a major and without hesitation I marked journalism.

Because of my interest in working for a weekly paper, I was encouraged to major in community journalism, and was the final graduate of that program from ASU.

I learned a lot from my classes and from my years as a member of The ASU Herald staff. I also completed an internship at the Paragould Daily Press, which after many late nights finishing the sports section reaffirmed my belief that I wanted to work for a weekly paper.

Interestingly, my younger sister, Megan, also had an interest in writing and taking photos and is about to begin her final year at ASU as a photojournalism major.

An opportunity was given to The TD to provide an internship through the Arkansas Press Association, and I am proud to have Megan filling that position.

If she receives the same welcome and friendship from Lawrence County that I received, who knows, maybe in 15 years she will be writing a column in The TD about how quickly time has passed for her, and hopefully, I will still be here to see it.

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