Mt Pleasant News
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Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 7, 2016

How I returned home

By Sally Y. Hayes

By SALLY Y. HAYES

Mt. Pleasant News

Five years ago today, nearly a quarter of my life, I did not anticipate returning to Iowa, much less Mt. Pleasant, my hometown. See, five years ago almost to the day I was packing up to head to the land of the liberal arts for my freshman year at Monmouth College.

History was going to be my major while I played soccer for the Fighting Scots before going to graduate school for archaeology. Or so I thought. Life has a funny way of teaching lessons along the way.

Over my ambitious, busy tenure at Monmouth I decided to be a triple major — History, Philosophy and Classics.

I studied, played for the women’s soccer team my first two years before transitioning to the men’s national qualifying water polo team on a dare (we didn’t have a women’s team until I co-founded one in 2010, but that is a different story for another day), participated in student government sitting as various chairs and vice president, played trumpet in the band, worked as a resident assistant and photography manager for the campus newspaper and still balanced out time to have a social life.

I also had an active life off campus in the political world, volunteering as an intern for the Obama campaign when I couldn’t find a summer job.

Through all of that something changed. My end goal changed. I learned archaeology was not my cup of tea while on a two-month field work stint excavating in the Emerald Isle the summer of 2008.

My close-knit family suffered some damages during the flood that June while I was away. All the while abroad I wished I could be home to fill sand bags in Oakville and pack boxes in Burlington.

That natural disaster made me realize that I wanted to help people in some capacity.

A month later I was offered a field organizer position in Tama and Grundy counties with the Obama campaign. It meant having to take a semester off of school, needing to take a full course load of credits the remaining three terms and a couple of summer courses to graduate on time.

I took the gig.

The strenuous 12-15 hour days, seven days a week for three months wears on a person, but election night made up for the doors shut in my face and phones hung up on me daily. I learned more lessons as a community organizer. I was a step closer to finding my path.

I returned to school and my busy schedule, graduated on time with a major in Classics and two minors in History and Philosophy (although I often joke that I double majored in extra curriculars), found another political job in the gubernatorial race and moved to Davenport. This time the campaign I worked for lost.

So this native of Mt. Pleasant did what she had never planned to do five years ago, I returned home and began looking for work.

I found a job in December at the Mt. Pleasant News as a press assistant and over the past eight months have managed to become a reporter. The job weaves together my interests – working with people in the community, studying the history of the town and writing, with the added bonus of being near family.

So this once Indiana Jones hopeful is glad to be taking on more of a Clark Kent role.