Dear Future Orionites: How I found my way through pen and paper


It doesn’t matter if it’s pen and paper or on a laptop — writing has forever changed my life. To be frankly honest with everyone, I had no clue what I would do after high school, until I found my place in writing. 

Time to flex a second: Over my two semesters as a sports reporter for The Orion, I have written over 50 stories, won multiple mug-of-the-week awards and have completely transformed our social media presence. I have multiple stories that made it on our Trending Stories list, and have the most-liked stories on The Orion’s Facebook and Instagram accounts. I am currently the only person who has written on every beat, and once I wrote a staggering five stories in a week while working a full-time job. My resume speaks for itself, BUT it didn’t come easy.

My dream was to be in the NFL, but once I realized it wasn’t going to happen, I felt lost. Anxiety ran through my body as my impending future remained unknown.

You can’t let the anxiety take over your mind. Find something that will fill that void in your body. For me that was when my high school teacher introduced me to sports journalism.

I did research on journalism during my spare time and this idea of writing about sports slowly started to take over my mind. During my senior year of high school, we had to do a “senior project” that shadows someone who works in the field you want to get into after high school. 

I was able to get in contact with a former sports anchor for Action News Now, Ross Field. He told me he would love to show me the ins and outs of the industry. 

This is where my journey in sports journalism began. Field took me under his wing and exposed me to the industry. He even let me film and write part of the script for a Chico State Men’s Basketball game recap.

While shadowing Field, I realized that sports journalism worked for me.. Seeing how the Action News newsroom operated allowed me to see myself in such an environment. 

So I enrolled at Chico State. I didn’t know what to expect, since I had never taken a journalism class.

At first, the biggest challenge was not seeing many people of color in my classes. This made me uneasy because I was always surrounded by my people. It took a while, but eventually, I got over this and just focused on my writing.

I received plenty of help from my friend and mentor, Moe Moton. This friendship started when I profiled a journalist for a class assignment. I previously followed Moton because of his NFL coverage, and we clicked immediately. 

Moton is a prime example of working your way up in the industry. He has worked his way up to Bleacher Report, but continues to find ways to improve his craft. That is one thing that really resonated with me, while being able to learn from him. 

I remember my first published piece. I had the pleasure of interviewing and profiling the current editor for The Athletic, Jimmy Durkin.

To any aspiring journalist, start networking NOW. That is the biggest key when it comes to trying to move up the food chain. USE Twitter. This is where all big journalists reside. Don’t be scared to reach out to “big name” journalists; at the end of the day they are humans just like you.

Find people like Field, Moton and Durkin who are willing to work with you. No challenge is too big unless you allow it to be. Most journalists are willing to help other young and hungry aspiring journalists. 

Seeing my work flipped a switch within me and I signed up for The Orion during Fall 2021. 

Once situated in my new position, I got going. My first ever piece of work for The Orion was published in Sept. 2021. The relief I felt was second to none.

This isn’t easy by any means, but the hard work pays offs. Seeing your name as a publisher/author on an article makes it all worthwhile.

I fell in love with the grind, but it also burned me out. This is something journalists tend to ignore, which isn’t good for your mental health. This was another bump in the road for me during my writing career, and I occasionally struggled to find a balance between my personal life, work, school and The Orion. 

Balancing life is one of the hardest things to do as a college student. Finding balance between working hard and having a right state of mind is essential. You can’t do too much of either, if not you won’t be at ease. 

Find balance and hobbies to help your mental health. It is not a joke, make sure your mind is right before you dedicate yourself to something.

To the next generation of Orionites, I want you to leave with affirmation after reading this piece. There is a place for you, you just have to find it.

Things will never be handed to you, especially if you’re a person of color trying to get into a predominately white field. Despite the bumps in the road, you can’t stop. If you do, the haters will win. 

Writing has more power than people realize. Even through all the anti-journalism propaganda, they can’t deny the weight WE have on the world.

Javier Hernandez can be contacted at [email protected] or @jhm1226 on Twitter