Archived Story

Shaping up lives [UPDATED]

Published 11:48am Thursday, September 9, 2010 Updated 11:50am Thursday, September 9, 2010

We’re running a story in tomorrow’s issue of the Journal (or here online) about Dave Jennen and Keith Olson, two pilots for the Young Eagles program in Fergus Falls who have reached milestones in the number of rides they’ve given to kids. Along the way, they may have inspired some of the pilots and mechanics and airplane industry workers of tomorrow.

It’s great work, and Jennen and Olson should be applauded, but it got me thinking: almost every person who has achieved something he or she has hoped to achieve had someone or something to look up to, to be inspired by.

Sometimes it’s as vague as an idea. A man who has heard of the good doctors have done may also choose to become a doctor in order to help others. Other people have a particular person they have wanted to emulate or even impress.

For me, it was a process that began when I started reading Dave Barry columns. The Miami Herald humor columnist was just about the funniest thing to me when I was younger, and I wanted to make people laugh, too.

Later, I began reading syndicated political columnists and enjoying the variety of writing styles they brought to the table, from the verbose intellectualism of George Will to the crusty sarcasm of William Safire. I also began to appreciate the institution of the press as a trusted news source, one that could go further in-depth than a nightly half-hour newscast.

My journalism professor, Doug Trouten, was another inspiration when I got to college. And, of course, I wouldn’t be a true journalist (or at least not a stereotypical one) if I left out a mention of the great Woodward and Bernstein.

All of these people and ideas shaped my interest and caused me, in their own ways, to end up where I am today. For that, I am grateful, but I’m also sure that I’m not the only one who can point to who or what made me the person I am.

So how about you? Who or what inspired you to be the person you are today or the person you’re trying to become?

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