I have always enjoyed the therapeutic and nearly meditative state of swimming countless laps in the pool.

As my body synchs into the rhythm of my breathing and stroke, I am able to practically go on auto-pilot, leaving me with nothing but the thoughts inside my head. Sometimes this gets me in trouble with my very serious and VERY Swedish swim coach, especially when I end up swimming the wrong distance due to my wandering daydreams.

“Erin wat are yuh doing? Yuh need tuh start payin’ more attention!” At that moment, I couldn’t help but smile and say, “Sorry, Coach. I was dreaming about winning an Emmy!”

Yes, this actually happened. In fact, I have been dreaming about winning an Emmy since I first auditioned for the middle school morning announcements in 7th grade. WithErinAward-350 every plastered, braces-filled smile and “Please stand for the pledge” I had wondered what it would be like to interview my favorite band on the set of their new music video, report on political turmoil in a far away land, or wake up the corporate world on Good Morning America. Even better, I dreamed as to what it would be like to stand on that podium accepting that little statuette of the golden girl with the wings.

Five years later, I did just that.

Well, maybe the stage was a little smaller and I was representing my high school and not CNN, but nevertheless, I had managed to win two High School Student Production Awards given by the Southeast Emmys. The experience was a dream on its own, my father escorted me in his well-tailored tuxedo, I wore a beautiful, long formal dress, and I was surrounded by media professionals who mingled with me on the red carpet. It was like Prom all over again, but with less inappropriate dancing!

All jokes and glamour aside, the experience had a lasting affect that continues to resonate with me to this day. As a recent graduate of high school, it was hard to watch my peers put “MAJOR: undecided” on all their college applications. It seemed like every adult was slamming me with “Well, the average college student changes their major three times over the course of their four years” when I confidently and proudly told them I planned to major in Broadcast Journalism in college. Gradually, I began to doubt myself. Was I crazy for knowing exactly what I wanted? Was it realistic to know what I wanted to do every day of my life for years down the road?

It was not until I stood at that podium collecting my awards for Talent and Arts and Entertainment that I began to realize that I had a new confidence- a new fire in my belly. It was not until I chatted with numerous professionals in the industry that I began to realize how lucky I was to be so sure of my ambitions because my dreams only gave me a jumpstart on this wild journey. And finally, it was not until I listened to student after student speak so eloquently about a common passion that I began to realize I was not alone.

And so one day I hope to be back; next time on the big stage with an acceptance speech about a young girl whose daydreaming once got the best of her.

ErinValle-235Erin Valle is a recent graduate of Harrison High School and has served as an anchor/reporter on Hoya Vision, her school's weekly broadcast. She will be attending the University of Georgia in the fall where she intends to major in Digital and Broadcast Journalism. Watch for more of Erin’s work in future issues of School Video News and SVN’s The Morning News special issue.