The last time I stepped foot in Nashville was four years ago. I earned my undergraduate degree at Vanderbilt University and here I am again doing more learning. The irony of all of this is that I considered transferring from Vandy my freshmen year because it doesn't offer a journalism program. Well, I didn't transfer and managed to become a journalist. I owe part of that to my Chips Quinn internship at The Detroit News in summer of 2001 and my many late nights spent at The Hustler, Vanderbilt's student newspaper.
I scanned the streets and landmarks during my cab ride from the airport. My eyes widened when I saw the downtown skyline and recognized restaurants I used to eat at as an undergraduate. I was surprised how happy and excited I felt to back in a place that never quite felt like home to me. I have often described my experienced my time in Nashville as "when I studied at Vanderbilt." Now, I'm thrilled to tell my seminar-mates where the closest Starbucks is and how my favorite sushi bar is only a few blocks away.
It's only a coincidence that the Freedom Forum established the First Amendment Center at my alma mater or that six years after participating in the Chips Quinn Scholars Program, I would once again receive training from the Freedom Forum. It's random, but it feels great to be in Nashville, a place I now recognize is one of my "homes."