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Meet ND McCray

Today we’d like to introduce you to ND McCray.

Thanks for sharing your story with us ND. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I started entertainment blogging in 2007 while I was working as a café manager at Borders in Stafford, Texas. It was cool because I had all this access to music and books and magazines and movies, which meant I had consistent ideas for my blog. So when I started freelancing a year later, I just started pitching editors different albums I was listening to and artists I wanted to interview. And editors like it. From there, I started getting assignments to talk to singers, songwriters, DJs, actors, even a writer or two. I did that for a solid four years, making very little money. It was just a passion. I loved talking to other artists and hearing about their creative process.

So when I decided to get my master’s in 2012, I knew I wanted an entertainment arts programs to up my skill set. I wanted to learn more tech and digital spaces, so I opted for Full Sail University’s New Media Journalism program. I think when it was all said and done — in 12 months, I completed over 45 projects from writing articles, blog posts and creating videos to learning about all aspects of media, publishing and public affairs. Over the years, I’ve shifted from entertainment writing to human interest pieces via different platforms where I’ve gotten assignments with national organizations like the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and The Carter Center, as well as xoNecole.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Has it been a smooth road? In terms of pursuing my passion it has. I decided to go for what I loved and I did. In terms of getting to the point of pursuing my passion? It was a winding road! I’m a military vet so for about a decade after graduating high school I believed I needed a career that provided me with a 401K and benefits. Because that’s what you do when you leave the military. You get a job, you get benefits, you stick with it and you’re good. But here’s the thing: you can have a career that provides you with said benefits and also do what you love on the side. Who knew?! I didn’t have any role models to show me that I could do both so it was hella trial and error for years — until I landed on teaching five years ago.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
If I could do it all over again, I would have stuck with some of the gigs I had where I worked with kids, because that’s also where my heart is. Though I started volunteering as an ESL tutor while living in St. Louis in 2015; where my first official teaching job was a year later in Beijing, I think I started tutoring students in 2000 when I was stationed in Okinawa, Japan. It probably would’ve been an easier road than the one I went on. But the main reason I went for a communication degree is because I wanted something versatile. Plus I like researching and analyzing people, places, things. I’ve worked in finance, education, sales. It’s a broad field. But that’s about the only thing I would change. I mean teaching was always in front of me; I just chose to ignore it.

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Image Credit:
EB Photography

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