To Reno, from the East and South, with an Island of Misfits Somewhere in the Middle

Sydney Oliver reports on a university student with a most unusual journey to The Biggest Little City.

Wisconsin-born, Gracie Boykin lived most of her life on hunting land in Alabama.

After spending a summer on Mackinaw Island in Michigan and an impromptu flight, Boykin found herself calling Reno, Nevada her new home. After studying natural resource management, she is now hoping to get a degree in wildlife preservation and ecology at UNR.

Listen to an audio documentary about her here and below:

I was born in Greenbay, Wisconsin and I lived there until I was 5 years old and then I moved to Lisman, Alabama. I moved down there because hunting land was cheap so my dad wanted to hunt more deer, so my dad’s side of the family is from Choctaw, Alabama.

I was bored after COVID hit and I wanted a new place to live, a new place to be, and I looked on coolworks.com and they said that Mackinaw Island was hiring. It was like an island of misfits, it was like if you didn’t know what to do with your life, it was like, go to Mackinaw Island, catch the first shuttle-ferry over there and then do what you need to do.

I ended up here because my seasonal job at Mackinaw Island ended because of COVID and I said, “Okay, I’m gonna visit my aunt in Reno.” I took a shot of Pink Whitney and I said okay I’m going to get on the plane and go to Reno, Nevada and start my life over, and here I am.

I love Reno because anywhere that I drive I can see mountains, I can see skyscrapers, It’s just like, it’s a whole new landscape for me. In Alabama, if you have purple hair, someones gonna look at you funny, someone’s gonna call you a name. You can do whatever you want to here and no one really looks at you differently, that’s why I like it, Reno is so accepting.

I just need nature in my life, I know how I am, I need nature, but I could adapt to living in the city.

Humans of Reno Reporting by Sydney Oliver for the Reynolds Sandbox

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Reynolds Sandbox

Reynolds Sandbox

Showcasing innovative and engaging multimedia storytelling by students with the Reynolds Media Lab in Reno.