Bittersweet farewell

First Posted: 7/23/2009

Dreams they come, they go. They changed shape and form. I had a dream when I graduated college in May 2007 to continue on to graduate school. I was the first person in my immediate family to graduate college and I wanted to take full advantage of all my scholastic opportunities.
But God had something different in mind. Those plans didnt work out for me; a couple of rejection letters and wait lists later, I found myself looking for a job.
When I first set foot in Mount Airy in August 2007, I never thought it would be my home for the next two years. I had just left the Winston-Salem Journal as an intern and was hoping to be at a newspaper of the same size. But I quickly learned that I needed to flexible.
I accepted a job position at Mount Airy News despite comments from others in the news business that nothing would come of me if I worked in Mayberry.
Boy, were they seriously wrong.
I am who I am today because of Mayberry. It was the people in this community that I wrote about for the last two years, their tragedies, their joys, their triumphs that helped shaped me not only as a reporter, but as a person. I am stronger, more confident and more compassionate because of this community that welcomed me and let me tell the stories of its citizens daily.
As time has gone on, I have grown to love Mount Airy, its people, and its stories, which is why I will truly miss all of it.
My dream of continuing my education never died, it just temporarily shifted, which is why Ill be leaving The Mount Airy News next month and attending graduate school in Ohio.
It was a tremendously tough decision, Im leaving behind beloved friends, coworkers and memories. Its not so easy to give up. Its bittersweet. Im emotionally swollen with fear, excitement, anxiety and joy. I weighed staying and attending school locally or online and I couldnt find a program that suited me or what I wanted to do to stay progressive in journalism.
At Kent State University, I will be earning a masters degree in mass communications and journalism with a focus in magazine, with multimedia classes in the mix to help me enhance my skills and give me an opportunity to broaden my horizons.
Its tough leaving behind what you know, what youve come to love and cherish. As the daughter of a Marine, I never had a hometown, I never knew what it was to have community roots, I always hopped from place to place, adjusting to new communities. But Mount Airy gave me what I never had a hometown.
And for the first time, in a long time, Im not so ready to go, but I have a rare opportunity with scholarship funds to earn a higher degree, and I feel like I would be cheating myself if I didnt take full advantage of it. Part of my scholarship fund is that of military benefits I received from my fathers service. He died in 2004. He was an educational advocate, and always pushed me to succeed academically.
I wouldnt have these educational benefits without his hard work and service to this country, and I dont think I would have this academic opportunity if it werent for the skills and knowledge I achieved at The Mount Airy News. The Mount Airy News and Mount Airy was part of the path to my ultimate goal, and whatever success I find in the future wouldnt be the same without my experience here. And, in the future, if an opportunity arises to come back to Mount Airy, I would love the chance to be a part of my hometown and The News team again.
So Mount Airy, we still have some time left to enjoy each other, and I plan to enjoy every minute of you while Im still around. Thanks for your support, your friendships, your hospitality and your stories. I love yall.
Erin C. Perkins is a staff reporter for The Mount Airy News. She can be reached at [email protected] or 719-1952.

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