I have been a staff writer at the Miami News-Record for a year now, and it's amazing to think how far I have come. I moved to Joplin after learning I landed the job in Miami three months after I graduated college at Middle Tennessee State University. College taught me book smarts, but the News-Record has taught me the more than those four years ever could.

 

When I first started at the paper, I was a home sick Tennessean that wasn't sure about moving to the mid-west. I often doubted myself, which in turn affected my writing and ability to grow. Now, I am surrounded with friends and a loving community. I am more confident in myself and as a writer. The News-Record staff have been very supportive and patient with me as I grow my into an experienced journalist.

 

I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was in 9th grade. I had an English teacher named Mrs. Levi who would constantly write on all of my papers, “You know you should be taking Honors English, right?” I started looking at my writing differently, from a new perspective. I even started taking honors classes, like she suggested. Who knew it would take a simple, you could do better, to push me in the right direction?

 

I have always been my worst critic. In fact, I still am, but Mrs. Levi opened my eyes and helped me see what was really in front of me. From that point on, I knew I wanted to write. My goal then was learn to be a better writer. Now, my goal is to not only be a better writer, but to influence others through writing. I am constantly learning and going through the writer's metamorphosis, which I will do until my very last breath.

 

It's interesting to recollect what happens throughout an entire year and to see how you made it out on the other side. I have come a long way, and for the first time in my life, I am perfectly content where I am. I truly feel this is where I am supposed to be. Miami may not be home, but the community has definitely accepted me as part of their family, and I am forever grateful.

Kimberly W. Barker is a staff writer for the Miami News-Record. She can be emailed at kbarker@miaminewsrecord.com. Follow her on Twitter @MiamiNews_hound.