If you’re lucky enough, you’ll have a mentor, someone who inspired you and perhaps continues to do so. There’ll be someone who motivated you to get into your chosen field, who gave you your start, who cheered you on and never wavered in their belief that you could excel. 

For me that person is Venetia Sherson. 

When I decided I wanted to be a journalist (as if it was a choice; sometimes our careers choose us), I initially thought I’d do it via correspondence. My father didn’t agree. “Talk to Venetia,” he said. “She’ll be able to tell you the best place to study.” 

Venetia was a family acquaintance and the editor of the Waikato Times. So I mustered every ounce of nerve (editors were like gods to me) and called her.  “Don’t do it by correspondence,” she advised me. “Those sorts of qualifications aren’t recognised. Go to polytech.” 

So I did. I completed a Media Arts and a diploma in journalism at what was then Waikato Polytechnic. I interned at the Waikato Times during my final year, and a few weeks before I graduated, Venetia and offered me a job. The drive home that day was a blur of excitement I remember like it was yesterday.  

Venetia left the Waikato Times a long time ago. But she’s still writing; I come across her byline every now and then. She’s an industry stalwart who continues to inspire me, the same way she no doubt has countless others. She doesn’t know it, but she set me on a path I love as much today as I did the first day I set foot in her newsroom. 

Where would I have ended up without her? I’ll never know, but I doubt any alternate path would have taken me to as many fantastic places as this one has. For that I have Venetia to thank. I owe her more than I can ever repay.