By Zoe Wentzel
My final choice in moving to Reno for college had mostly to do with the fact that the University of Nevada, Reno was out of state and had a good journalism department. While I was impressed with the university, there was little about the city itself that magnetized me to move here for school. As I grow nearer to graduation I’ve come to realize that my attitude around this place has changed, and while I’ll never truly be a Nevada girl, I’m starting to understand that my choices in life involve much more than just what makes me comfortable.
Originally, I’m from Seattle, and if you’ve ever met me, you already know this. It’s essentially a running joke that I bring up Seattle as often as possible to the point of beating a dead horse.
My freshman year at UNR went surprisingly well. I made the academic transition from high school to college without too many problems, and somehow I acquired friends all on my own. But I just couldn’t accept Reno as my home. Sure, I moved here to experience something different, but the Biggest Little City just rubbed me the wrong way. Reno to me was too dry, too conservative, and lacked what I liked to call “real mountains” (but really, have you ever seen Mount Rainier?).
My goals going into journalism school were to graduate and transform into this super awesome music reporter who got to go on Warped Tour and interview cool bands, but no matter how I tried, Reno just wasn’t facilitating those dreams. Each semester of school I would shift further and further away from that idea. Perhaps it was a lofty goal for myself, and maybe a bit of an immature one as well. I boggled my brain trying to pin point what it was that I really cared about and what I was good at. I like to research. I like to write. I like to use words as a creative medium, and I figured myself to be pretty all right at all those things.
Time passed and things were pretty normal leading into this, my last year at UNR. I acquired another major, French, moved into a new apartment with only one roommate instead of three, and I started to face the question that I always knew to be inevitable: what am I going to do after I graduate?
This is no easy question to ask your 21-year-old self.
You feel like you’re asking yourself, “how would you like to end your life in a year?” Leaving school was a scary thought. It still is a scary thought, but as I spent my last summer off from school pondering this question, I began to realize that Reno might be the best place for me to start.
It was July 6 when The New York Times came out with their big article highlighting Reno as an up-and-coming tech city, and it was that day that I began realizing that I may have unknowingly chosen my school for more than just escaping people from high school, but also for Reno’s potential. As someone who was born and raised in a tech city, growing up alongside the industry in the area, I knew this was something worth considering and understanding.
The ending quote of the NYT article, said by Eric Jennings of the Reno-based company Pinoccio, is what hit home the most for me. He said, “There’s such a low barrier to entry here…if you’re passionate about something you can just take it on.” I took that idea into the start of the semester and started to take on school knowing that every thing I’d be doing in my classes would be one step closer towards becoming a “real adult”.
It was when the Tesla deal was announced that I actually realized that Reno was going to turn into something much bigger than the cheap gambling town most outsiders see it as today. Industry was laying foot here, and one that is new and innovative. I explored the Tesla deal, both for school and out of my own personal curiosity, and began to realize what this could mean for someone who isn’t skilled in lithium battery making, like myself.
Sure, Tesla has been, and will be talked about time and time again by people in Nevada, but there’s a reason for that. It’s a really big deal.
The Reno area has been considered by a high profile, cutting edge company as being a viable place for business and soon other industries and companies will follow. This means opportunity for many skills and interests, especially journalists. Technology offers a great deal of opportunity for writers because, while useful or handy, technology just doesn’t get its message across without creative, well-researched writing.
It feels stupid to me that it took three years for me to realize that growing up isn’t always about being totally comfortable with your surroundings, because it seems so obvious to me now that Reno is where I’d start out all along. It probably helped that I grew to better understand what Reno is all about, but I truly think that what it took was realizing that opportunity sometimes outweighs what makes us comfortable. I could easily go home after graduation, but I’d also be stuck living in the basement of my parent’s house working as a gas station clerk trying to find a job that uses my journalism or French degree. I’d have all the luxuries I know and love, but at what cost?
Do I plan on staying in Reno forever? No. It’s even possible that in four years I’ll be writing something that talks about how crazy I was to believe that Reno was the place to start my career. For now though, it seems crazy for me not to try. Graduating from UNR with a journalism degree may have never been so valuable, and it’s official, I’m staying in Reno.