Seattle PI reporter learned to write his story in Shoreline’s honors program

Daniel DeMay. Photo credit: Lisa Baumann.

When Daniel DeMay started at Shoreline in 2009, he had little expectation of navigating college with success. Eight years later, DeMay is now a culture, business, and transportation reporter for the Seattle PI. He’s also a graduate of Shoreline’s Honors Program.

DeMay describes his past as “checkered” revealing that, after dropping out of high school, his 20s were largely spent drifting from one thing to the next taking on jobs in such varied industries as auto repair, theater production, and construction. At the age of 27, DeMay decided it was time to stop hopping jobs and find a career he could stick with.

“One day my coworker and I were on our way to a construction site and we just looked at each other and said ‘I don’t know why we’re doing this’. We turned the car around,” said DeMay, “and I spent the next several months deciding I wanted to go to college and figuring out how to make that happen.”

DeMay’s stepsister had gone to Shoreline and “always raved about it in her efforts to get me to go to college,” DeMay explained, so choosing the school was easy. But he still wasn’t positive college was for him. “I entered with no expectations of success,” he said. “Going back to school after working for almost a decade, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was in for.”

Once on campus, however, the pieces started to fall together. With aspirations of becoming a journalist, DeMay started writing for the award-winning student newspaper The Ebbtide, working his way up from reporter to editor-in-chief.

“I’d always been into writing as a kid,” said DeMay, “and I saw journalism as a way to learn to become an efficient writer and saw it as a valuable thing for the community at large. I wanted to use writing to give back, whether to entertain or inform.”

Joining the Honors Program was the second piece of the puzzle for DeMay. He was in his second quarter at Shoreline and taking an International Political Economy class when one of the professors, Kenny Lawson, pulled him aside and suggested he apply for the Honors Program. (The class was co-taught at the time by Kenny Lawson, Chip Dodd, and Tim Payne.)

Not knowing exactly what he was getting into, DeMay admitted: “the Honors Program was daunting at first.”

“The idea that I was going to produce a 20-30 page research paper was unfathomable at first,” said DeMay. “But the program is set up to teach you to be a writer, researcher, and a critical thinker and reader, and by the end you’ve learned the skills you need to produce a high level of academic work.”

DeMay’s final thesis paper examining the history of the changing relationship between the press and the public ended up spanning 37 pages.

“It made any research project I undertook after that seem pretty easy,” said DeMay. “Any 5-page papers I was assigned suddenly became a piece of cake. But more important, it made me think deeply about my choice of study and really dive into the history of my chosen topic and master those necessary research skills I may not have developed during a regular course of study.”

DeMay went on to be the commencement speaker for his graduating class (2011) and transfer to Western Washington University with confidence in his ability to be a successful college student.

“The Honors Program was the first example of me learning what I was really capable of producing,” said DeMay. “To have successfully produced that thesis project, knowing that I was capable of something of that magnitude, was eye opening. There’s a confidence level you get that, hand-in-hand with learning academic skills, is invaluable.”

So what’s his advice to students considering joining the Honors College at Shoreline?

“Be prepared to make a big commitment, because I don’t think you’re going to find another honors program at a community college that’s that high level and far-reaching and undertaking a program like that is a big commitment,” said DeMay. “But if you really want to succeed, the commitment is worth it.”

“It was a great experience and I’m glad I did it,” DeMay continued. “I’m glad Kenny Lawson tapped me on the shoulder and got me involved, and I’m glad for the other instructors who urged me along and gave me support. It was certainly a life-changing experience.”

Learn more about the Honors College at Shoreline. The priority application deadline for admission into the Honors College for Fall 2017 is May 19!

Look for DeMay’s work at www.seattlepi.com

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