By Alexa Jones
The first time I learned about Flipside was at a track meet. It was in Charleston, and my mom had managed to find a copy of the Charleston Gazette so she could distract herself with a crossword puzzle until it was time for me to race.
It's strange to think how different my high school experience might have been if the Flipside application ad had not caught her eye, resulting in her urging me to apply.
In what is often a chaotic and stressful time in one's life, Flipside allowed me to find my voice. Without that discovery, I honestly do not know if I would have developed the bravado to go to the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League school in Philadelphia where I knew not a soul.
Writing articles on a regular basis caused me to reflect and develop opinions on topics such as the honor code, how false the good student stereotype can be and friends with benefits -- all of which I might not have considered otherwise.
It also resulted in me interviewing numerous people, which forced me to become more outgoing and, in some cases, bold. I always possessed confidence from my grades and every now and then from sports, but the confidence I gained from having my articles printed, and (to my chagrin) read by others, inspired a different kind.
FlipSide aided me in maintaining enough self-esteem to overcome a bullying English teacher at Cabell Midland High School and supplied me with the tools to write a controversial college application essay. It changed my life.
Adjusting to the course load at Penn was by no means an easy feat. That said, had I not juggled schoolwork with Flipside article deadlines -- and later, the responsibilities that came with being the first student editor -- I would have been starting at square one.
Through Flipside, I learned how to prioritize while simultaneously taking on increasing responsibilities. These skills were invaluable to me in college and continue to be today. While my ultimate career path did not lead to journalism, I do not know if I would have the job I do today if I had not experienced Flipside.
Alexa Jones graduated from Cabell Midland in 2006. She is an attorney development analyst at Axiom Law in New York City.