Friday, August 29, 2014

Thank you

As I sit here at my desk for the last time at PGN, I am overcome with emotions.

I’ve been someone who has always been exceptionally fortunate in the blessings I have had in life. I come from a supportive family, I have the best friends in the world, the most amazing partner in life and I have had some of the most meaningful opportunities.

The Summer of 2011, I found myself at my first Philadelphia Pride with my uncles. Although I wasn’t newly out to myself, I was newly out to the world. I had told my parents and my friends that summer as I was away working at West Chester University as a resident assistant, far enough away to hide myself from reactions. As we stood there, cheering on the various floats streaming past us, I was handed a rolled up newspaper inside of a rainbow bracelet — inside was the Pride edition of the Philadelphia Gay News. I was baffled — a newspaper just for me? For my community? What?

That night I took it home and read it cover to cover. I remember thinking, “Jesus Jen Colletta is the luckiest girl to have this job” because at the time, I was gearing up for a semester as news editor for West Chester University’s The Quad. I could have only dreamed of that opportunity while people told me it was impossible.

Fast forward to graduation in 2012 where my future was uncertain. I ended up taking a temp job at an insurance company, ready to give up on my dream when my mom, in a panic, told me to apply for the position. You see, I figured I would never get it because as embarrassing as this is, I had sent some of my student work to the former editor for freelance opportunities and when I heard nothing back, I figured I would not be a shoe-in for this position.

And then I got a call and had an interview and got another call and my life completely transformed.

The thing is, PGN changed my life. I walk out of this office more confident than ever. PGN gave me the skills and the opportunities that I was told repeatedly as an undergraduate that I would never have.

I have had the opportunities to talk with celebrities but more importantly I’ve had the chance to connect with local community leaders and legislators. This has been the most heartbreaking process of it all — saying goodbye to them as a writer. These people have filled my life with such happiness as they have conquered and stood up for those who are underrepresented.

My co-workers, though, have breathed new life into me during these past two years. I started out as a shy and awkward individual, not sure of anything and ended, still awkward but confident and resilient.

I am excited for my new opportunity at the Bethesda Project. I am blessed that this staff has decided to take a chance on me and to be honest that feels great. Through my work at PGN, I’ve latched onto several non-profit organizations, adoring their missions, their programs and their initiatives. To have a chance to work at one of the city’s finest non-profit organizations is an honor. I can’t tell you how excited I am for this new opportunity.

I am excited about a couple new endeavors I have going on, both in freelance and in voluntary form. I am really excited to be a part of some fantastic organizations and endeavors in the future.

So thank you so everyone who has made this journey fantastic.

No day but today.