The Ledger welcomes new reporter
Greetings Fairfield! First of all, I would like to thank you for your vast array of tasty cuisine, your amazing festivals, your enjoyable art walks, your thoughtful hospitality, but most of all, your warm smiling faces. Fairfield, Iowa, is truly a fascinating and unique town to be a part of.
As some of you may have noticed, Diane Vance’s name has disappeared from the paper after her move to Oregon earlier this month. I am honored to inform you that I have taken her place here at The Ledger. However, I’ve been forewarned that I have some pretty big shoes to fill. But I assure you, Fairfield, I will do my absolute best to bring you your news in an insightful, honest and engaging way, which will truly represent your wonderful town and this fantastic county.
A little about me…
I was born and raised in Florida. I’ve known I wanted to be a writer since I was 12 years old. But reality kicked in when my uncle assured me that my romantic dreams of writing the “great American novel” were wonderful, but to make sure that I could support myself while I did it. It was then that I really thought about journalism. Here, I could write stories every day that affected people’s lives immediately. But it was when I began writing for my college’s newspaper in my freshman year that I got bitten by the journalism bug! “Yes, Virginia, there is a journalism bug.”
I wrote for Florida State College’s Campus Voice until I received my Associates Degree. I graduated with honors and I was a member of Phi Theta Kappa. I also received my first real writing award while I was there, receiving recognition from the Arthritis Foundation. The foundation nominated me, and I was awarded the “Celebrate Independence Award.”
After graduating from Florida State College of Jacksonville, I was fortunate enough to continue my journalism education at one of the best journalism schools in the country, The University of Florida’s Weimer College of Journalism. I would love to say that I graduated from there and lived happily ever after as a reporter for the New York Times or Time Magazine or something outrageously important like that — but I can’t. Here’s the scoop: I studied abroad in Cairo, Egypt, in the second semester of my junior year. It was the best nine months of my life!
In Egypt, I had the priceless experience of studying egyptology under the renowned animal mummy expert, Dr. Salima Ikram (if you’ve seen National Geographic or the History Channel on the subject of animal mummies, you’ve more than likely seen her).
When the semester was over, I remained in Egypt for an additional five months. During that time, I wrote for PC World Egypt, The Middle East Times and I spent the summer as an associate editor at Am Cham Egypt’s, Business Monthly Magazine. I also had the opportunity to visit Israel and stay in a Palestinian refugee camp for two weeks where I had the most extraordinary opportunity to interview refugees at Camp Jabalia in the West Bank. I wouldn’t trade a single one of those experiences for a million dollars.
When I returned to Florida, I got married and I brought two beautiful children into this world. Danielle and Gabrielle are the loves of my life. From there I held many positions — though not always in the field of journalism. And it was years before I seriously returned to school to finish my bachelor’s degree. But I continued to freelance write year after year, writing for a variety of publications such as The Jacksonville Business Journal, The Florida Star and The Jacksonville Advocate. In 2005, I landed a position as an editor for a small weekly in my town. It was during that time that I decided to write a book. I finished that book and published it. I wrote and published one more after that and then co-authored a third that is currently in the process of publication with a small online press.
I am proud to say that during the last 15 years, I have published more than 200 articles. And I still freelance for Aviation for Women Magazine. However, The Ledger is my first full-time opportunity with a daily newspaper. Thank you Amy Sparby and Andy Hallman for giving me a shot.
In closing, I am excited to be a part of this town and a part of The Ledger staff. I am fully prepared to bring my best to the table each day. I would like to thank you again Fairfield for this wonderful opportunity. I look forward to working with you.
In your service,
– Nicole Hester-Williams