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BARTKOWIAK: Living across the country has helped me a grow as a storyteller
marco interviewing
Marco Bartkowiak conducting an interview - photo by Michael Bandoo

Growing up, I lived all across the country. My mother is in the news business, so my family moved often as she received new opportunities in her career. Each city brought new lessons and challenges from Michigan to Texas to North Carolina to Georgia. Moving so often at a young age had its frustrating moments, however, I also learned so much about a wide variety of people. I found it fascinating to watch my mom transform her style of storytelling to different cultures, and I began to love storytelling myself. As I got older, that love for storytelling continued to grow.

Towards the tail end of high school, I knew that I wanted to follow in my mom’s footsteps and pursue journalism. In the latter part of 2019 and early 2020, I was taking tours to a variety of journalism schools. I was excited to set off on my own and begin to learn what it takes to make it in this business. Around February 2020, I decided that I was going to attend Arizona State University and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. I was in the process of matching with roommates online and getting everything in order to move out to Arizona. Then, everything changed in an instant when we were placed on lockdown.

When COVID hit, the plan of attending Arizona State was gone in about a week. My family lived in Charlotte, North Carolina at the time, so I enrolled at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. UNCC did not offer journalism classes and I had to choose a major, so I decided to try psychology. I quickly realized it was not for me but with the world on lockdown, I had no other options.

As the COVID lockdown came to an end, I packed my things and headed out to Athens to attend the University of Georgia and the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. I dove headfirst back into journalism, spending the next few summers doing internships covering high school sports, working at news stations and here at The Covington News.

I am now heading into my final year at UGA. I am majoring in journalism with a minor in general business. I am also in the Carmical Sports Media Institute. I am interested in multiple different avenues of journalism. I have experience and passion in the production side of news, but I also love to spend time with people in the community and tell their stories as a reporter.

As I look back, I often think that COVID was a blessing in disguise for me. After a few years of chaos and frustration, I am now a few months away from beginning my job search and starting my career in journalism. Although it was not the traditional path of most college students, I believe the experience I have gained will help me tremendously. I now feel as prepared as a 22-year-old can be to head off into the workforce and take on any new challenges that life may have in store. 

Marco Bartkowiak is a correspondent and summer intern at The Covington News. He can be reached via