By Tom Alexander, Photo Editor

Two more exams and one term paper are all that separates me from a piece of paper that says that I am capable enough to hold a professional job. I’ve been in school for roughly 17 years of my 22 years on this earth. That’s a hell of a long time and now it’s finally coming to an end.

When I first came to this school in the fall of 2008, I had a completely different career plan in mind then the one that I have now. I originally came here to pursue a career in computer sciences with the hopes that one day I might be able to break into the game design industry. Looking back that seems to be such a boyish dream that was spawned by playing too much Counter Strike and Call of Duty in middle school and high school.

It took me a year to figure out that if I kept going in the computer sciences profession I would end up hanging myself with Ethernet cords in my basement, probably a stark exaggeration but, I digress. Once I realized I didn’t want to do this for the rest of my life I had to break it to my friends and family. Sure, a lot of people said I was taking the easy way out, “What are you going to do with a degree in journalism these days?” They would ask me. I’ll tell you what I’m going to do, I’m going to tell stories.

A wise man once told me, “Find something you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” I firmly believe this statement. While I definitely won’t make the salary that I would have if I achieved my original goal in computer programming, I’m going to love what I do, and to me that’s more important than a big bank account.

Working here at the Michigan Journal has been one of the best decisions I made in my college career. I got this job by chance; one day I received an e-mail that my name had been recommended to the editor-in-chief at the time by Professor Gilmore because at the time the MJ needed a replacement photo editor. That’s probably the most important e-mail I’ve ever received.

If there’s one thing you need when trying to get a job in the competitive world of photojournalism, it’s a solid portfolio, something that I have had the chance to really build because of the opportunities I got while being here. I’ve covered protests, countless speeches, and of course, Michigan Football. Every time I covered something, I got better. Everyday I feel like I become a better photographer and I’m ready to take this momentum into the professional arena.

If I can leave you with anything it’s this: make mistakes while you’re young, you won’t have the chance to when you’re older. If I’m being honest I had a lot more fun in my college career than I probably should have.

I’ve wrote countless papers the night before they were due and I’ve gone into more tests than I can count completely cold turkey because I was busy going to some concert or just hanging out with my friends the night before. So yeah my GPA could be better but honestly, I wouldn’t trade most of the times I’ve had for an extra .5 on my GPA. My friend, Soupy from The Wonder Years said it best in the song, My Life as Rob Gordon, “it’s not the end if you call it a new beginning.” That’s all this is, a new beginning. I’m not scared of the real world; I’m ready to tell its story.”