A Personal Essay on My Career Path to Journalism

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It was just another spring day, at the age of 12, in my northern Virginia hometown, Lorton. I was bored with the dullness of that particular day in the suburbs as per usual so I perused the internet. It was around this age that I became interested with current events on a global scale, so, of course, I searched Reddit.com for world news. I simply became excited and interested by learning the stories of other humans across the earth whether sad, shocking, or even amusing.

I, in honesty, spent a lot of time browsing news articles online. The central reason I would say I became such a news junky is because I simply care about my species and my planet. Then of course, inevitably, it was back to my own life story and my own responsibilities.

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At the age of 15, I put down the assigned literature for my English 10 Honors class: Taming of the Shrew, to answer the landline in my mother’s townhouse. It was my mom. Her tone of voice seemed unusual and a bit uneasy. She slowly informed me, “Brandon, your father (a recently retired Air Force Colonel and generally boring dad) has just been arrested while he was walking his dog and his computer had been seized.” I said to her after a long pause in the conversation because of my shock, “Is this a joke? You can’t be serious.”

After about a week of great stress on my mom she decided to tell me and my older brother something about the incident, “He has been charged with solicitation of two minors for sex via the internet and the police posed as an underage person. It was a sting operation essentially.” I couldn’t believe my ears; first the divorce and now this crazy news. I wanted to scream.

Then approximately two months later, my mother called my name and my brother Chris’s name from the second floor of our home. She beckoned us to come down to the living room to chat about something. As we all sat together, my mom asked, “How are you guys doing with the dad situation?” We both pretty much said it was really hard to hear and a bit unbelievable, but we were adapting. She then said, “You guys are resilient. I know it. There is something else I should mention about what your father did, however. It was boys.” It was extremely shocking to find out that my father of three children was a closeted bi-sexual, a pedophile (he claims he thought they were of age), and cheated on my mom at the age of fifteen. I just did not expect to hear this stuff at all.

So what does this arrest have to do with my purpose in life? It actually has a partial influence in that purpose but an influence nonetheless. It was a turning point for me because this arrest altered my mindset in that it made me question authority (in this case my father but not only him) even more than I did before, as a result of reading about the corruption of those in power over the World Wide Web. I would say the arrest and the internet disillusioned me to fact that even those in power can commit crimes.

Humans after all are not perfect beings. The arrest also made me want to know the truth more aggressively, regardless of if it is wanted, by some, to be known. My mother once said, “If I had known the secret your father kept from me about himself earlier then maybe we could have helped him and avoided this turmoil.” If I had to put my purpose into three words it would be: expose the truth.

So because of this newfound purpose of exposing truth, I figured the best thing to do with my life is to investigate into the truth, document it, and tell it to as many people as possible to cause positive social change and even transparency in authority. If the people don’t know what their potentially corrupt government is doing then they will never rebel against it so as to achieve justice and general welfare. For example, North Korea’s televisions only have one government approved channel and also no access to the internet, so North Koreans are almost entirely uninformed about the malpractices of their own government, such as creating a societal fallacy or lying to the public that Kim Jung Un is a god that never poops. After all, knowledge is power, and some in positions of power wish to keep others powerless.

The career path of journalism, specifically online reporting, became increasingly clear to me as the right choice. This was, again, a partial result of spending a great deal of time as an adolescent on the internet learning new information. Journalism is so attractive to me for not only the truth exposure aspect and holding the powerful accountable through inquiry in interviews, but also the excitement that is travel and going where the story is. I really enjoyed traveling to places like California, Jamaica, and Ireland with my family during my childhood so I figure I will enjoy going to new places as an independent adult. This is why I am attending Virginia Commonwealth University as a journalism major.

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