The Joy of Getting to Interview People for a Living

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by Hawken Miller |

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I started writing for my high school newspaper, The Bolt, when I was 17. Now 24, I’m telling the stories of people who make an impact in their rare disease community for BioNews, the publisher of this site. Over the last seven years, I’ve had the privilege of conducting hundreds of interviews with people from all walks of life.

Talking to so many people and retelling their histories has given me a unique perspective on life that has been invaluable as I overcome my own challenges with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. More than that, it’s also helped in my social life, as I get over the lack of self-confidence that being in a power wheelchair affords me.

In a recent article for Muscular Dystrophy News, I talked to a woman with a form of X-linked myotubular myopathy who unknowingly passed it to her two twin boys. They died from the disease at 15 months old.

While it was a challenging story to hear, listening to her overcome the most difficult loss a mother can experience and using that to help find a cure for the disease was unforgettable. I’ve told countless similar stories.

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In every interview, I learn about our shared human resiliency and find plenty of things in my own life that I take for granted. It’s always a push to see how I can make an impact in the world. More than that, it’s a reminder that if these people can survive and thrive despite impossible odds, so can I, even with Duchenne.

Whether they have a disability or not, witnessing people’s success stories firsthand allows me to live vicariously through their accomplishments. Wherever they’ve gone, whatever they’ve done, when I interview them, part of me feels like I’ve lived that experience, too. I’m transported out of my own situation and into theirs, like the experience I have when reading a captivating novel.

Talking to people for work has also improved my conversational skills. When I’m talking to new people, I treat our back-and-forth like a journalistic interview. I ask myself, “If I was writing a story about them, what would I want to know?”

I usually learn an interesting tidbit about them and quickly start to uncover who they are and what drives them. Journalism has taught me that everyone has a story, whether or not they think they do. I feel more comfortable talking to strangers and making new friends because of my storytelling experience.

When deadlines loom, and I feel overwhelmed with the amount of writing I need to do in a short period of time, I question if I made the right career decision. But then I remember how it’s given me the privilege of talking to so many incredible people. Everyone has a beautiful story to tell, and sharing that with the world can only make me smile.

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Note: Muscular Dystrophy News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Muscular Dystrophy News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to muscular dystrophy.

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