PRO Intern Lauren Ebben points to her name on the
editorial page of Portraits Magazine at a luncheon honoring PRO Mentors
A note about this post
Amarillo High School senior Lauren Ebben has spent the school year serving as a Pursuing Real Opportunities (PRO) Intern in Amarillo ISD’s communications department at the Rod Schroder Education Support Center. With a bright spirit and thoughtful approach, Lauren has lent creative and editorial support to our publications, including AISD Newswire Blog. This post is the culmination of Lauren’s time in the communications office and, we hope, the commencement of a journey which finds us one day saying, “We knew her when…”
By Lauren Ebben, PRO Intern
The first character I remember creating was a multi-colored haired girl named Diamond, whose name was “ironic because her face was shaped like a diamond.” She was the product of a writing prompt given to a library full of seventh graders by the author Kimberly Willis Holt. “Introduce the character in your story,” she said, “then we’ll all share what we have.” I decided to bury Diamond after that, but she came back to haunt me years later when I came across the very journal her character was written in. Shame engulfed me as I read the chicken scratch on the page, realizing that 13-year-old me didn’t understand the concept of irony. What’s even worse is that I named the high school in my story, the high school Diamond so clearly despised, Kimberly Holt High. I have no idea if Mrs. Holt remembers Diamond, and I really hope she doesn’t.
In hindsight, I guess the design of that character isn’t so bad for a seventh grader who had just barely begun to write stories and definitely shows a certain level of imagination. I think. But, compared to what I’m writing now, it’s like nails on a chalkboard… Or anytime you have to tell anyone that dorky email address you created when you were 13 (which also brings me shame). However, Diamond has taught me a few things since her creation. For instance, I now know how to properly use irony. Diamond could’ve been a character who always cracked under pressure.
I also feel I’m definitely a better writer. I have always been a writer. In elementary school, I was most comfortable when I was creating stories and characters and scenes on pages. But the only thing I’ve focused on from 8th grade beyond is writing essays for English class, where, for me, the more scholarly writing that was required chewed up and spit out any other kinds of writing. No more funny characters, no more plot twists, no more dialogue. And, suddenly, I wasn’t comfortable anymore. I lost my voice and I was absolutely devastated.
For a while, I even hated writing.
A few weeks before school started this year, I got a call from the PRO teacher at Amarillo High asking if I was still interested in being part of the internship program and, if so, at what kind of place I would like to intern. Initially, I told her I was interested in forensic science and thought I wanted to work somewhere in criminal justice after college. However, as soon as the words left my mouth, I regretted it. I knew that type of job wouldn’t be a good fit. It’s the stories in that kind of work that fascinate me. The juicy ones involving a lovers’ quarrel or a person wronged. I knew I would be interested in the story, not doing the police work it takes to solve crimes. The point of the PRO program is to find a place you can thrive. I was back to square one.
I lost my voice and I was absolutely devastated. For a while, I even hated writing.
With time running out, I made a split second decision, informing my teacher that I would like to spend the year interning with an editor since words have always been something I’m good at. She recommended I intern at the AISD Education Support Center in communications. Not entirely sure about my future and a little more than freaked out that I had no plan after high school, I said yes.
Before my internship, I never really considered the idea of writing as a career. Although it was my favorite pastime as a kid, I had it in my mind that you can’t have fun at a job and it still be considered a job (despite what my mom tells me.) Mothers do know best however and it wasn’t long into my internship that something happened. For anyone reading this who doesn’t know, AISD publishes a magazine every spring showcasing our district. Most of my internship time first semester was spent working with the department on the magazine before it was sent off to publication. Several rounds of editing later, I held an official copy of Portraits, and on the editorial page, in white print, was my name–Lauren Ebben – PRO Intern Extraordinaire. Something shifted and a long forgotten passion, a voice, just slipped out. Poetically, I guess, it was an awakening.
I knew then I wanted to build a career out of words.
This fall I’ll attend Amarillo College for basics, most likely as a mass communications major with a minor in English, and then transfer to a university. From there, who knows? I’ll write where life takes me. Sitting here now, in the present, thinking about how I am writing this post as the first guest blogger for AISD Newswire Blog, I guess I’ve come a long way since Diamond, but I don’t think I could ever forget her or her cringeworthy lessons.