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A little bit of an introduction

Do you ever find yourself wondering about the lives and backgrounds of the writers you read? I know I do.

Whether they’re a best-selling fiction author, a journalist or an academic writer, I usually find myself curious about the lives they led, as understanding who a writer is can lend greater context to their work and bring the writer’s choice of words, topic and presentation into sharper focus.

So, with that tidy little justification in place, I’m going to go out on a limb here and do something that’s a little unusual for me — and to be totally honest — completely outside of my comfort zone as a writer and a human being: I’m going to use this first column to tell you a little bit about who I am and why I’m here.

Existential debates aside, I’m a Marquette native who has worked for The Mining Journal for just over two years now. I recently moved into the position of city editor, but up until the beginning of this year, I was a staff writer for the Journal.

My work encompassed court cases, municipal governments, topics related to health and aging, sustainability, environmental issues, and pretty much anything else that came my way.

While I wasn’t trained as a journalist and didn’t envision a writing career in my future — more about that later, I promise — I found myself exactly where I needed to be when I arrived at the Journal just over two years ago, as the endless opportunities to learn, grow and connect made my time as a community journalist fulfilling and rarely dull.

So what was I doing before all of that?

I was born and raised in beautiful Sand River — which is about 10 miles outside of Harvey along M-28 East – in the early 1990s, with a secluded Lake Superior beach and acres of unspoiled forest just footsteps away.

I went to Cherry Creek Elementary School and then, things got a little less traditional with my education.

I was homeschooled for the duration of middle school, as I spent most of those years traversing the nation with my parents, learning algebra, science, geography, history and language arts while seeing everything from the Rocky Mountains and the saguaros and red rock of the American Southwest to the Smoky Mountains and the Everglades.

After returning home, I completed my high school education at North Star Academy, then went to Northern Michigan University, where I graduated with a major in psychology and minors in art and biology.

Then, after one of the most brutal winters of my life unfolded during my senior year at NMU, I moved out to Tucson, Arizona, to pursue my graduate degree in the near-endless sunshine of the Sonoran desert.

While I loved scientific research, I realized that writing was my true passion — and gave me more of an opportunity to make a real difference — as I wrote my thesis.

I also realized there was a real need for scientists (or anyone in a jargon-filled field, really) who could actually explain their work in terms that are understandable and relevant to the average person in their daily life.

So, I wrapped up my experiments and writing, defended my thesis, filed all my lab notebooks away, packed what I could from my desert home into my compact car, and started the 2,000-mile journey back to the Upper Peninsula, just as the long-awaited thunderstorm that kicked off that year’s monsoon season began over the parched desert.

As the thunder crashed and the clouds finally opened up, I said goodbye to the cacti and the endless stoplights of Tucson on my journey out of town, knowing I’d miss it, knowing I didn’t have a real plan but also knowing that I just might find a way to make my dreams of writing and living in the U.P. a reality.

So, here I am. You might still be wondering who I am and why I’m here — and maybe I am too — but hopefully, this column can help us all figure that out.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Cecilia Brown is city editor at The Mining Journal. She lives in Marquette and can be found hiking if the weather’s nice, or curled up with a book if not. Contact her at cbrown@miningjournal.net.