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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) robs a home run from Florida infielder Cade Kurland (4) in the top of the ninth inning during Texas A&M’s game against Florida at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Sunday, June 15, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
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Finding myself, in journalism and beyond

Assistant+sports+editor+Ryan+Faulkner+graduates+later+this+month.
Photo by Photo by Robert O’Brien

Assistant sports editor Ryan Faulkner graduates later this month.

Not a day goes by that I’m not utterly dumbfounded by how quickly time passes and by how sporadically life changes within that span.
I’ve been at Texas A&M since fall 2019, and yes, I know I’m probably crazy for graduating from college in five semesters. If I’m being honest, that’s a choice I regret more every single day as Dec. 18 slowly draws nearer; I can’t help but feel as though my time in Aggieland isn’t meant to end quite yet. But here we are regardless, so I’ll be damned if I don’t find the good in this whole thing, from start to finish.
When I started my freshman year, I was an honors engineering major with aspirations of one day earning a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering. My wide-eyed, easily impressionable self lasted a whole three months in Zachry before I realized math and science were simply not subjects about which I was passionate, so I decided to leave the program — and before the naysayers jump into the comments to claim I switched because I wasn’t good enough, it should be noted I kept a 4.0 GPA throughout that time, which I still hold today. Yes, I’m not-so-subtly bragging on myself. Sue me; everyone deserves the opportunity to showcase some self-confidence every once in a while.
Anyway, law school became my eventual replacement end-goal, and I began searching for a new academic path to get me to that point. I settled on journalism because I thought it would be easy and require little effort to fly through my classes.
Boy, was I wrong.
For all the non-journalistic folks that read The Battalion, I have two things to say to you. First, thank you for supporting student journalism; it’s not possible without people like you. Second, you would not believe how much more goes into this field of work than people even realize.
As a sports reporter and editor, people assume I go to football games, throw something into Google Docs and post to the newspaper’s website without much extra thought, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Doing my job means 12-hour shifts in the newsroom until 2 a.m. It means taking the time out of my academic schedule to meet with players and coaches of various NCAA programs every single week to build rapport with the teams. It means somehow finding a way to pull 2,000-word longforms out of press conferences in which I was only allowed to ask one single question.
Journalism is hard, and when I changed majors, I truly had no idea what I was walking into.
But here’s the thing: That’s the most amazing aspect of this entire experience. I’m not entirely sure why I was allowed to join The Battalion as an editor after learning AP Style less than a month earlier, but hey, it worked out OK! This newspaper helped me grow and develop as a person, and I hope the same can be said about me helping The Battalion improve as well.
To make this rapid development even more pronounced, it should be noted that when I switched out of engineering, I was still a half-closeted, small-town kid ashamed of even being myself. Now, I’ve never been more proud to be open about my sexuality while working in the sports industry.
That’s such a strange combination, isn’t it? My parents — to whom I look up more than anyone else in this world, by the way — never fail to make fun of my contrarian tendencies, so I suppose this was just meant to be.
And because I’ve been with The Battalion long enough, I already know what the Facebook comments are going to look like under this article. “Why does he feel the need to mention his sexuality?” Well, find me more than a handful of LGBTQ+ sports reporters or analysts for ESPN or other major sports broadcasting companies. Representation matters, so until something changes, I’m going to use my platform as an opportunity to advocate for my brothers and sisters discouraged by an industry constantly telling them they don’t belong. Plot twist: They do. And so do I.
So, to The Battalion: Thank you for changing the trajectory of my entire life — for allowing me to be myself while remaining involved in a field about which I am extremely passionate. A year ago, I didn’t know what it meant to be so deeply enthralled by something that I’d want to pursue it for the rest of my life. Now, I do.
To my parents, brothers and family: Thank you for supporting me through my college experience, even if it sucks to drive through five hours-worth of empty fields and two-lane roads just to visit me a time or two every semester. I love y’all, and I’m who I am today because of you. Regardless of what comes next in my life, I am first and foremost your oldest son, your big brother and your biggest supporter.
To the friends I’ve made at A&M, both through The Battalion as well as my four other student organizations: Please know that you’ll be the people about whom I tell my future children as I tuck them into bed when they ask about my past. My memories with all of you are irreplaceable. And as for those organizations — Fish Camp, FLASH, SLAM, TANSA — you gave me my best friends in the world. There are no words to describe my true gratitude.
I’m already over my maximum word count — a fact which should be unsurprising to the people who consistently follow along with my writing — so I need to wrap this thing up. But before I go, for the final time: Gig ‘em, God bless and please, support student journalism.
Ryan Faulkner is a journalism senior and assistant sports editor for The Battalion.

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