I’m sure you haven’t been keeping track, but here I am just about a month into my reporting position at The Anson Record.
Some of you have already asked me how a girl from Pennsylvania found her way to Anson County. I’m not really sure my family understands this move either, but it just felt right.
I’ve had a blast these last few weeks meeting members of the community and getting my start in this profession. I’ll reintroduce myself in case we haven’t had the chance to meet yet!
My name is Elizabeth O’Connell, but feel free to call me Liz (or even Lizzy – a name I’ve always gone by but felt like it was a childish name to fit in as a reporter!) I’m originally from Doylestown, Pennsylvania, which is a small town like Wadesboro, but not quite this small.
From Pennsylvania, I moved to Arizona and graduated in 2018 from the University of Arizona. Then I packed up my bags and moved to Thailand, where I taught English to nursery and kindergarten students. For the past year-and-a-half I was living in Philadelphia, working at a restaurant and remotely at an advertising company.
Then when I was offered this position in Anson County, I figured why not move again and finally start my journalism career.
I thought, being from a “small” town in Pennsylvania, I wouldn’t have a hard time adjusting, plus I’ve managed huge moves before, but then I took photos for a clay shooting event and realized very quickly I was no longer in my hometown! Except, I did meet a couple wearing a Philadelphia Flyers hat. They are originally from the same area in Pennsylvania. So maybe this isn’t my hometown, but I do have fellow Philadelphia sports fans here to help me represent.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved the clay shooting event! I’ve never seen anything like it! A family even let me take a shot, which quite frankly I had no idea where my bullet went. I can’t even tell if I was remotely close to the clay pigeon!
But it was at that shooting event, and talking with the barista at Speckled Paw, and meeting with town officials, I realized I have nothing to be scared of in this town I’ve never even heard of before! This has been such a seamless transition as the town and county has welcomed me with open arms — well open arms six feet apart.
Coming here made my realize why I wanted to be a journalist. I love meeting people. I love listening to stories. And above anything, I love learning. Every day I am here, I am learning or I’m being introduced to something new.
Just the other week I got a tour of the Rotary Planetarium and Science Center and the co-directors let me hold a snake! It may have been for a couple of seconds, but it is moments like that where I truly love doing this. It is not a job for me. It is an adventure.
I’m learning very quickly how much people love this community. In my first week I wrote about an Anson County native who was selected to be the first African American face for an Irish skincare company. She reached out to The Anson Record wanting her hometown to be the first to write about her. She told me she would be honored to do the interview with me, as it means much more to her coming from her hometown paper than The New York Times. My mouth nearly fell to the ground when she said that!
Other community members I’ve met have left Anson for college or for a job, but they always seem to find their way back here — sometimes to open a hair salon and other times to become the Town Manager. The enthusiasm for Anson County is already oozing out of people, way more than in my hometown, and I’m truly so excited to be here.
Thank you for making transition into my dream job an easy one. I can’t wait to keep producing stories and learning from you all!
Reach Liz O’Connell at 267-467-5613 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter at @_eoconnell.