It's Thalen's Turn column: My introduction as an Echo Press intern

The following is an opinion column written by an Echo Press editorial staff member. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Echo Press.

My name is Thalen Zimmerman, and I want to start off by saying that it feels good to be back home. I was born at the Douglas County Hospital back in October of ‘95, but when people ask where home is, I usually respond with Douglas County; it’s easier that way. I spent my early years living in Forada, then Alec, then Osakis, then Kensington, a brief stint in Lowry, then Brandon, and eventually back to Alec, where I lived for my last few years of high school. However, I didn’t graduate from Alexandria; I graduated from the Brandon-Evansville School. I got tired of switching schools (especially for my last couple of years), so I made the commute from Alexandria to Brandon every day.

In high school, I took a creative writing class, which introduced me to storytelling. I always loved stories, from my mom reading books to me before bed, seeing the older kids perform in plays at the high school when I was still in my elementary days, and going to the movies with my friends on a Friday night; I loved it all.

One of the first stories I remember writing was a short script about aliens invading a small farm town. It wasn’t good, filled with many errors, but it was a start, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

After high school, I had to really figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I didn’t think it was realistic for me to find a job in film or writing, so I figured I would do the storytelling thing as a hobby. That’s why I did the cliché thing and went in as a business major, knowing I would end up switching to something else I would actually enjoy. I moved to Bemidji to start my Freshman year at Bemidji State University.

During my time at BSU, I bounced around ideas constantly of what I wanted to do with my life; I went from business to teaching, wanting to practice Law and study politics, to eventually deciding to try my hand at the nursing program. The funny thing is, science is one of my worst subjects, and there are a lot of science classes that are required to get into the nursing program. One of the prerequisites is to earn a Certified Nursing Assistant license, which I did obtain but more on that in a bit. This nursing thing was right around the end of my sophomore year, and I decided it wasn’t for me; I didn’t even think school was for me. So, I took some time off. That summer, I partied, hung out with friends and delivered pizza for Domino's. It was fun but wasn’t really leading me anywhere. And that really started to sink in when I watched all my friends return to school. I decided I needed to make a move.


So, I moved down to Lake City, to live with my dad. He told me a Mayo Clinic affiliate was hiring nursing assistants in their geriatric department, a nursing home. I applied, got hired and moved all in the duration of a week.

On my first day, I was trained by a beautiful redhead named Jade, who later became my wife. Life was going great, I worked a lot, made good money and hung out with Jade every single day. But I always had the regret of not finishing school.

That’s when I discovered the Mass Communication department at BSU and decided to go back to school. Jade was on board and moved back to Bemidji with me.

For the next two years of school, I produced commercials, short films and satire comedies about the duties of campus security. I wrote scripts, profile pieces and short stories. I worked at the campus radio station and even tried making a couple of podcasts with some buddies.

Last April, Jade and I got married in Leadville, Colorado. The highest elevation city in the continental U.S. We had an intimate ceremony with our immediate family. It was perfect.

I graduated from Bemidji State University in May with a B.S. in Mass Communications. I accepted an internship here at the Echo Press. And at the end of May, we bought a school bus to renovate into an RV to take across the country to document life and culture in small towns across the U.S.

And just last week, I found out that I am going to be a dad.

Life comes fast. Faster than anyone can prepare you before. But, if you take risks, have the person you love at your side and pursue your passions, you will find your place.


“It’s Our Turn” is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.

Thalen Zimmerman of Alexandria joined the Echo Press team as a full-time reporter in Aug. 2021, after graduating from Bemidji State University with a bachelor of science degree in mass communication in May of 2021.
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