Georgia still on my mind

Six years ago, I started writing for The Hinsdalean. It was the first time I had ever written anything that wasn't for a grade. It was the first time one of my stories got published. I remember my first article was about how my older sister, Anna, was going away to college - to a school called the University of Georgia.

Two years later, I joined her, leaving my comfortable life in Hinsdale to study journalism at UGA. I didn't know much about journalism, only that it was a field you went into when you liked to write, and that it's why Sally heads to New York in "When Harry Met Sally." To be a journalist - not a gymnast.

Now, I'm graduating from UGA with a degree in journalism and a new skill set. Still I'm faced with the question everyone has to answer after a chapter of their life ends. Where do I go next?

Four years at UGA have given me more than I ever hoped for. Sometimes, I think it's given me more than I deserve: back-to-back national championships, a friend group who has taught me the strength and power of female friendships, a passion for a career that started out as a little girl's hobby and memories - perfect moments in time that I always carry with me.

Georgia has become a home to me - one that I'm not ready to leave behind.

That's why, after one more summer in Hinsdale, I'm moving to Atlanta to live with my college best friend, Sydney, for our fifth year in a row. She and I have always joked that she's like Monica and I'm like Rachel. Luckily, we're only in our first season of "Friends."

As I apply to jobs, I have a myriad of interests to choose from - politics, fashion, food and drink and publishing - each stemming from a different part of myself developed throughout the years. All are inspired by the one part that unites them all: the writer.

I have always said that I write because I want to make others feel the way I feel when I read a favorite book or a captivating poem or a hauntingly beautiful quote. But there's more to it than that. I also write so that I can feel something - some connection to a person, to the world, to myself.

I am grateful to The Hinsdalean, and to Pam and Jim, who gave a young high schooler who liked to write the chance to let it be more. Throughout my years writing for this paper, I have seen myself change and grow as a writer as I became a woman, the two forever intertwined.

Above all, I hope my stories have made an impact. If my writing has made you - even for a moment - smile or think or hope or believe in something greater, then I think that would be enough.

- Katie Hughes of Hinsdale, a senior at the University of Georgia, is a contributing columnist. Readers can email her at [email protected].