Hometown intern able to “do it all” in McCook

Originally published by McCook Community Foundation Fund

By Lexi Gross, NCF Hometown Intern, McCook

If you would’ve asked me back in March what I was going to be doing for the summer of 2020, coming home to McCook was not at the top of my list. It was not that I didn’t love McCook or enjoy being here but rather I was making plans and looking at opportunities elsewhere. Just like the rest of the college students in this country, COVID-19 had other plans in mind.

After the start of the pandemic, a lot of my original plans were being canceled and it left me wondering, “What am I going to do and where am I going to go to get a fulfilling summer?”

And when I say fulfilling, I mean I wanted to do something where I could work hard, learn new skills, and feel like I was making a difference!

Shortly after asking this question, I found the perfect fit with the McCook Community Foundation Fund, which was looking for a hometown summer intern to tell McCook’s stories through various media—my exact major. Now if I’m being honest, I was nervous to be moving back home. I had not lived at home for more than a year and I was worried about what everyone would think. Would people think I dropped out of school? Would they think I could not make it on my own? Or would they consider me a failure? All of these thoughts raced through my head at one point but then I asked myself, “Why is moving back home such a bad thing.

I had a great childhood growing up in McCook. From spending Friday nights at Weiland Field and riding my bike all across town without the worry of any danger, to summer nights with my best friends at the lake. Why is it such a bad thing to say that I really enjoyed living in my small Nebraska community?

Well, I’m here to say that it’s not, and moving back home for the summer has truly been a blessing. I have been able to spend time with my family, high school best friends, and community members who are working to make a difference here. I’m creating projects to build up my portfolio while learning a lot of professional skills for the future. If anything, I think I have benefited more by spending my summer in McCook rather than somewhere else.

I think the biggest reason people don’t consider moving home is they think there is a lack of opportunity in the area, but that is not the case. As a college senior majoring in media production, many people would think I could only find a job in the city. But my time with MCFF has given me so many valuable lessons I will get to take into my senior year and future career.

And I was able to do it all right here in McCook.

Part of my job this summer was interviewing members of the community who have unique stories and have dedicated themselves to making McCook a better place to call home. I feel so fortunate that I have been able to talk to so many well-rounded people who have worked hard to achieve their dreams.

The most interesting part has been that these people didn’t wait for opportunities; they went out and made them happen. That’s the thing about our community: You can create your own opportunities and turn your dreams into a reality. And I personally have never seen more support from a community than I have from McCook.

This summer I have learned that moving back home does not make you a failure or mean you gave up. Moving back to McCook means you know what you want and that it is possible to create your opportunity here. That is something to be proud of.

As I enter my senior year of college, I’m not sure where I will end up after graduation. I would like to experience other places (and that is okay too) but I will never be closed off to the idea of moving back home. McCook is my home and I will always be proud to call it home.

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