As it turns out, this would be the last picture we took as a family. It's at my graduation from Penn State in December 2002.
Ten years ago this week, I started my career in TV as a Meteorologist at KMID in Midland, TX. I had no idea what I was going to experience over the next 10 years, and it definitely hasn't always been easy, but that first job was not just an opportunity for me, but also a blessing.
When I got the call from my first News Director, Mel Hudman, offering me the job, I didn't know much about Midland. I was in the midst of applying to every small-market TV weather job I could find online. Between graduation day and this phone call, I had sent my resume, cover letter, and demo tape (still VHS in those days!) to 36 TV stations around the country. I had decided that I would accept the first offer that was given to me, and that's exactly what I did.
The decision to move nearly 2,000 miles away from home to start my career would have been tough enough, but I had to leave with the knowledge that I might never see my dad again. He had terminal kidney cancer, but he insisted that I needed to start my career and take this opportunity. My dad had raised my sister and me to be strong, independent young women, and now my mettle was being put to the test.
Those first few weeks were tough as I adjusted to life on my own. I slept on an air mattress until I could afford a bed that I bought second-hand. All my furniture came from the thrift shop; I had moved to Texas with my wardrobe and some kitchen supplies, and nothing else. I was only making $300 a week, but my student loans were costing me more than $400 per month. Being strapped for cash was tough, but the hardest thing was being so far away from home, and the gut-wrenching feeling of not knowing how my dad was holding up. He sounded good on the phone, but in the days before Skype and iPhones, I couldn't see how he was deteriorating. My mom told me that he showed the video clips of my first few appearances on the news to everyone who visited him. It was nice to know that I was making him proud.
My dad died in the summer of 2003. It had only been 3 months since I moved to Texas. But, because I had an amazing boss and supportive coworkers, my fear of never seeing my dad again did not come true. Mel and my Chief in the weather department, Horace Brown, told me to head home to see my dad and to take all the time I needed. I ended up spending 10 days with him before he passed. A lot of TV stations (a lot of employers, for that matter) would not have done this. I am eternally grateful to them, and to my entire KMID family, who will always hold a special place in my heart.