An introverted communications major? If you’re thinking sounds like an oxymoron, don’t be alarmed. You’re not the only one.
But first, hear me out.
Well, read me out.
Writing is how I can be quiet and expressive. The best part about writing is that it’s silent. I don’t have to talk. Fine by me.
I’ve never had a problem being “Quiet Wyatt.”
My voice is in the behind-the-scenes work of journalism and storytelling, which has something to do with my past.
Growing up on a farm in rural Wisconsin, miles from the nearest neighbor, time alone was attractive. After chores, you could often “kid me” playing outside — fighting crime as Batman, Superman or some superhero I created. Then I would hear the crunch of gravel under tire and know that I had a visitor: my grandpa.
Sitting on the grass under a shade tree, listening to him tell tale tales shaped who I am today. While I may never craft a big fish story quite like his, those moments instilled in me a love of storytelling. Stories can take you to a different time and place. They have the power to show you a different world, while teaching you something about yourself.
In fall 2012, the stories I heard shifted from being about farming, small town news and the most recent sports event to those involving Milwaukee. I listened to the stories of the marginalized as I found myself calling Marquette University home.
While the residence hall I lived in my first year had three-times as many residents as my entire hometown. But I’ve come to enjoy the sense of community that can be created, even in a big city. Getting involved in various service organizations, running and reporting for the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service allowed me to make friends with the city.
On campus, I told stories as the social media director of Midnight Run, a student-run organization that uses direct volunteer service to fight hunger and homelessness. I also held jobs as a research reporting and social media intern for Marquette’s Office of Marketing and Communication, giving me the chance to share the work of university researchers.
I first considered making a career of combining my two passions — writing and social justice — after learning about James Foley, who travelled to conflict zones in the Middle East to document the toll of violence. Several months later, during a trip to El Salvador, I learned how the country’s brutal civil war was fueled by misinformation.
In March 2015, I travelled to rural Northeast India and met brave teachers who refuse to abandon their students, despite the threats of militants fighting for regional autonomy. The trips to El Salvador and India provided excellent opportunities to cut my teeth in international reporting.
After sharing these stories with those around me, I knew I had uncovered my vocation.
Something just felt right about holding a pen and notepad, with a camera slung around my neck. My mission as a human rights journalist is to raise awareness about social injustice, whether it is happening down the street or on the other side of the world.
That’s all for now, and you’ll likely see me around.
If I don’t speak first, don’t be put off. I’m just being Quiet Wyatt.