By Jennifer Marbley
Graduating senior Aurora Sain spent 22 years of her life in Sacramento, CA before she decided to pursue her dream of becoming a journalist. Prior to moving to Nevada in the fall to pursue her goals in higher education at the University of Nevada, Reno, Sain said that she never thought that she would excel in academia.
Her thoughts about her academic ability were tied to her struggles in an abusive relationship she had for over five years with her drug-dealing boyfriend. According to Sain, he lowered her self-esteem by telling her that she was stupid and would not succeed at her goals. He also discouraged her from leaving Sacramento.
Sain said that she was ready for the promise of a new beginning that a university could offer her. After attending American River College in Sacramento, where she never took more than three credits per semester, Sain said that she was ready to challenge herself and begin a new direction in life. Advice from a friend encouraged Sain to reconsider attending a university.
“My co-worker, Peter Kelly, told me that I should apply at UNR because that’s where he was going in the fall,” Sain said. “I had never even heard of the school.”
Sain said that Kelly encouraged her to believe in herself and attributes her success in college to him. According to Sain, he pulled her out of two months of deep depression from the break-up. Although she had doubts about being accepted into a university that demanded more focus than her community college, Sain decided to apply to UNR.
She received her acceptance letter in the mail two days before the final cutoff date to being accepted to UNR. In the fall 2012, Sain packed her bags to move to Reno where she had no family or friends. A chance at a writing career motivated her to leave everything she’d known and take a leap into a new world of academics.
The first time she stepped onto the university campus, she immediately felt at home. Sain said that she went on a small tour with her mother and other new students.
“It just felt right,” Sain said. “I fell in love with the [Reynolds School of Journalism]. It felt like this is where I should be.”
Sain’s determination to graduate from the Reynolds School of Journalism helped to propel her through the financial difficulties of moving to a new town. According to Sain, she used student loans, financial aid and paid out of pocket to cover her tuition payments.
According to Sain, she always knew that she wanted to be a journalist, because she loved to write and follow current events happening in the world. An internship with the Reno Gazette-Journal solidified her love for the profession. According to Sain, getting to work with a professional news outlet was one of the most exciting things that had ever happened to her.
“I found out that I love the fast-paced newspaper lifestyle,” Sain said. “I left [the RGJ] feeling accomplished every day.”
Her decision to move to Reno to pursue a dream has made Sain more open to adventure and possibility, despite her previously abusive relationship.
“When I first moved to Reno I would drive back to Sacramento every weekend because I was homesick,” Sain said.
“Now I love it here and I would rather stay in Reno than go to California.”
Sain said that she feels both nervous and relieved about graduating in fall 2014. While she has been eager to begin a new chapter in her life, she said that the thought of graduation can also be overwhelming.
Angie Cavalari has been friends with Sain since they met in fifth-grade summer school, and believes in Sain’s ability to overcome roadblocks. Cavalari said that Sain has always been known to carve her own path rather than accept what fate has handed her.
“She has overcome and conquered so much in her life,” Cavalari said. “Graduating is just another one of her stepping stones and she is on the path of true greatness. It’s been wonderful to watch her grow, rise, fall and turn into the lady she has become today.”
After graduating in December, Sain hopes to find a job as a reporter for a newspaper, find time to travel across the country and become a White House correspondent with the skills she learned at UNR.
Jennifer Marbley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @MissMarbley.