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Opening of a manila envelope marked a turning point for former NeXt correspondent

The thick manila envelope barely fit into my parent’s mail slot; I spotted it as I was returning home from high school.

“ONE NEWS PLAZA,” the envelope’s return address read.

Holy smokes, I thought. I had made the big time!

It’s been nearly 13 years since I was first hired as a NeXt Correspondent, and I still view that day as a turning point in my life.

I was always fascinated by Buffalo’s neat old buildings and unique neighborhoods growing up and loved learning about the city. When other kids were collecting Pokemon Cards, I was the 8-year-old waiting in line at the Delaware Avenue Tops to get a picture of the downtown skyline autographed by Mayor Masiello. (“Dear Brian,” he wrote. “Believe in Buffalo… and TOPS!”)

I even had hatched a plan for my dad to build an information kiosk on our front lawn so I could distribute pamphlets about the city.

“Why don’t you go outside and shoot some hoops instead,” he replied.

Writing for NeXt during my time at St. Joe’s high school channeled my energy and ideas about Buffalo. I was eager to pen features on the city’s architecture, food and hidden gems. I had come into my own and was on a mission to change teenager’s perceptions about Buffalo and show others my age everything our city had to offer.

My time as a NeXt correspondent set me off on a journey to study journalism at Syracuse University, work as a small town newspaper reporter in Northern New York and serve as Clarkson University’s first social media manager. But my love for telling Buffalo’s story fostered during my time at NeXt called me back home two years ago.

These days, I’m on a similar mission to change perceptions about Buffalo but on an even larger scale. As the communications manager for Visit Buffalo Niagara, I’ve helped pitch and host dozens of travel writers on press trips who have in turn introduced the city’s exciting renaissance to readers of outlets like the New York Daily News, Chicago Tribune, Associated Press and the Toronto Star. Much like my days at NeXt, I’m fueled by a passion to inspire readers – whether they’re teenagers living in Buffalo or potential travelers reading the Daily News on the D Train – to consider exploring our city and region.

It was my time at NeXt that helped transition my childhood passion for Buffalo into a career I love.

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