Unlike many journalists who I’ve worked with, I did not grow up aspiring to be one. In fact, I didn’t know anyone who worked in news. I come from a family of mixed backgrounds and paths of life, and although art was my preferred mode of expression, I decided to take a different path.

Despite never touching a camera in my life, I declared a major in film. More specifically, I pursued a degree in media and screen studies because Northeastern University did not technically have a film major.

To say people disapproved would be an understatement. My teachers laughed in my face, my friends applauded me for pursuing a “fun major,” and my parents voiced their concern for my future.

To be honest, I did not know where I would end up.

My first step toward a tangible future occurred in my first year of college when I began writing for the student newspaper. Covering topics and issues closely related to our campus and the surrounding city of Boston got me involved in local affairs.

Midway through my sophomore year, my first professional journalism role was as an intern at CNBC, unfortunately cut short by the growing COVID-19 pandemic.  During that time, I met a number of amazing reporters, producers, and fellow interns who I worked with every day. In March, I flew home to Nashville and finished the job remotely, but I soon found myself with a lot of free time while isolating.

At CNBC, I had noticed several of my coworkers and fellow interns working on the side for a platform called GovSight. I was missing fast-paced news work, so I reached out to my friend and GovSight co-founder Miguel Pineda to see how I could get involved.

Once I started, I hit the ground running. My experience in commercial video production lended itself to short video updates on the current news: COVID-19, business and school closures, mask mandates.

But with summer came the country’s biggest racial reckoning since the ‘60s.

Since May 30, I have reported on the pro-Black Lives Matter protests in Nashville and surrounding areas. I spent countless days and nights at a 24/7 occupation that lasted more than 60 days. I met a huge number of incredible and persevering individuals working for what they are passionate about, and I developed my photojournalism through pure experience.

Journalism is, for me, a new way of experiencing the world in a more engaging way than I have before. With technology affording us the ability to transcend physical distance, it is easier than ever to not only stay informed of world events but also create real change from across the globe.

There’s no other way to say this: it’s been a year of chaos. Along came the worst global health crisis in decades — coinciding with natural disasters and a massive civil rights movement — and sociocultural pressure boiled higher than it seemed possible.

Part of what I do at GovSight, and what any journalist does, is stay active. It requires energy, perseverance, and hope. Passive lifestyles are off the table in the news world, and that seems to be permeating into other parts of life. It can be hard, especially during these tumultuous times, but taking action and staying connected are vital to both society and yourself.

For teenage me, that’s more than I ever could have imagined.

Contact the author at sullybarrett@govsight.com.