You have changed me forever, for the better
By Leslie Heimbaugh
Knightly News Reporter
I have always tried to live by these sage words from Helen Keller—“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”
I think I was born with an unnaturally high tolerance for risk, which compels me to say yes to tasks I have no business attempting. This tolerance forces me to figure out how to make things work, for two reasons: First, I’m not particularly eager to disappoint people; and second, I like to challenge myself to see whether I can accomplish seemingly impossible tasks.
Some call this behavior foolish, but I think the violent shove out of my comfort zone that my risk tolerance provides has made some pretty incredible experiences possible for me.
My time at Central Penn has fluctuated between tremendous discomfort and triumphant reward, but I would not have had it any other way. Joining The Knightly News Media Club has significantly affected my risk vs. reward quota for the better.
Before I get ahead of myself, you’ll need some background.
The first time around
To prepare for my first career, I went to art school— way back in 1982. My middle school guidance counselor told me that due to my exceptional score in spatial relationships on the annual achievement test—I scored in the 99th percentile—my best chance for success would be an art school.
At the time, I thought I wanted to be a lawyer, but the counselor told me not to bother and that my talents would be better used as an artist or a designer in an ad agency. Over those years in high school, I slowly gave up my dream; I had art class 13 times each week by my senior year. Later that year, I signed up for a tour of York Academy of Art.
During the tour, I could not believe my parents would ever agree to let me attend this school. Students were smoking and roller-skating in the hallways. There were sketches of nude models hanging everywhere. It was chaos! Surprisingly, it was the straight-laced financial aid officer who convinced my parents that this was what an art-school education looked like, so they said yes.
A new time, a new purpose
Fast-forward to January 2018. My boss at Perry County Literacy Council wanted to start thinking about retirement—and wanted me to consider taking her place. I had worked there for nine years at the time, and I was thrilled that she thought enough of me to consider me for the position. The one thing that stood in my way was that I did not have a bachelor’s degree, which state and federal government funding requires. York Academy offered only an associate degree (which took a ridiculous three years to earn), so I would have to return to school. If I had only gone to a four-year school and earned a bachelor’s degree in anything—even basket weaving—I would have been all set.
I researched several schools, found Central Penn and never looked back. Although I was devastated that only six credits from art school transferred, I quickly recovered and got to work. I set a lofty goal for myself to get a 4.0. (I fell a little short, winding up with a 3.9—a 92.7 in statistics killed my 4.0.)
Several things about my Central Penn education delighted me—the most significant was finding out I was a writer. After years of limiting myself to the visual side of things, I was stunned to discover that I thoroughly enjoyed writing, and I wasn’t half bad at it. As my confidence grew, so did my desire to take risks, especially in my time with The Knightly News. I grabbed the opportunity to write about subject matter of all kinds.
The tremendous encouragement I received from Professors Paul Miller and Michael Lear-Olimpi positively fueled my desire to write more. One of the highlights of my time with the club was winning an honorable mention in the movie review category for the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association’s 2020 Collegiate Keystone Media Awards. Another bonus was seeing my writing in print in our Knightly News quarterly publication. I’m also very proud of the work of all of our writers and photographers.
Being a part of The Knightly News Podcast was particularly thrilling. Although it is still hard to get used to listening to my recorded voice, Professor Miller always made it so easy just to sit and talk. His expert editing made the conversations compelling.
Some parting advice
As an older student, my strongest encouragement for up-and-coming students is to take risks. Push yourself as far outside your comfort zone as you can tolerate, and then push a little further. Your resume will thank you, and even better, you’ll thank yourself. You’ll see that you are capable of more than you ever thought possible, just like I did.
To the writers, photographers, advisers, and the reading and listening audiences of The Knightly News—thanks for your support and encouragement. I’ll never forget you. You have changed me forever, and for that, I am so grateful.
Heimbaugh has served The Knightly News Media Club @ Central Penn College with energetic dedication, and beyond reasonable expectations, as a club officer, including as club co-president; as a reporter and podcaster for The Knightly News, including as cohost of a podcast series on movies; as the publication’s movie critic; as a thought leader and an action leader; as a powerhouse role model; and as a fundraiser (and baker) extraordinaire. Bye, Leslie. Thanks for all you’ve done for us, and for your leadership. Good luck (not that you need luck)!
Comment or story idea? Contact KnightlyEditors@CentralPenn.Edu.
Edited by media-club co-adviser and blog editor Professor Michael Lear-Olimpi.