Community Connections profile: Catching up with former Times intern Brea Walsh

Mike Christopherson
Brea Walsh

What year did you work in the Crookston Times newsroom?

I worked at The Crookston Times news room in 2004. My mom found a little newspaper clipping in the Crookston Times saying there was an opportunity for student interns at local newspapers throughout the state of Minnesota. We decided to reach out, and I’m glad we did! Thanks mom! ☺

What was your favorite part of your experience at the Times?

My favorite part of the job was the variety, how different each and every day was. Some days I was writing about government related articles, the next I would be taking photos at a soccer game, and even got to go to local events to take photos and interview community members. I think it really pushed me past my comfort zone at times which was good. I remember being on my first conference call where various media members needed to ask a question to a politician who was conducting the call. I remember being so nervous to ask my question. Everyone else seemed so grown up and I definitely felt like a kid pretending to be an adult (I still do sometimes to be honest) but it was a great experience for me to be in that environment and learn those new skills.  

What was the biggest thing you learned about yourself and/or the biggest life lesson that you took with you when you left the Times?

I remember on my first day Mike telling me to just "dive right in." I got started with writing and going to different events on day one of the internship, which I loved. He told me that even if I didn't know much about the topic or event I was writing about, to just try my best and we could always make improvements later. To just "get something down on paper" and we can jazz it up as we go along throughout the editing process. I think that advice helped me throughout my highschool and college years when writing papers. Don't worry about perfecting it on the first try- just get your ideas down. The editing process is what will make your ideas turn into a cohesive article. 

What have you been doing since? Give us an update on where you’re at, what you’re doing, who you’re with, etc.

Right now I’m living my life in Hawaii and enjoying these beautiful islands with my husband Myles. We are living on Oahu but we hope to soon move back to the Big Island where Myles was born and raised. I’m sort of doing what I call “the covid shuffle”.

I have a few different remote jobs that I do. I am an online English as a second language (ESL), where I teach Chinese students English through a program called ‘VIP Kid’. I also have an Etsy shop where I sell Hawaiian sunrise shell necklaces. These beautiful colorful shells are found only in the waters that surround the Hawaiian islands, and I work with local divers who hand pick every shell. I also do some graphic design and social media marketing on the side as well. My husband works in digital marketing at a local HR firm here in Honolulu. 

Brea and her husband, Myles

You’ve called Hawaii home for several years now. Your Facebook photos make life there look like nothing less than paradise. Why shouldn’t we all live there?

Hawaii is an absolute paradise and I feel so grateful to call these islands home. I've been telling my friends and family for years that everyone should move here! Of course there are pros and cons to living here. The weather, the beauty, the food and the culture are among the pros. But it's hard to be so far away from family in Minnesota. Also many people I know from Minnesota said they get "island fever". I personally don't get island fever, because I love the ocean so much. I'd rather be surrounded by water than be "land locked". But I understand how some people wouldn't like living on a secluded island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean for too long. But the weather here is unmatched, 80 and sunny almost every day! 

Tell us something about Hawaii that you think most people are unaware of…

Most people know that the Hawaiian language and the art of hula is such an important part of the Hawaiian culture- but I don’t think a lot of people know that when the settlers came to take over Hawaii- they made it illegal for

Hawaiians to speak their language, to dance hula or celebrate their Gods / Goddesses. They had to do these things in absolute secrecy, as these cultural practices were outlawed because the settlers wanted to teach the Hawaiians the Western religion and traditions. It's great the Hawaiians were able to find the time and place to practice their culture, otherwise the beautiful stories and hula dances would not have been passed down today. It's wonderful to see Hawaiians practicing their language and culture so proudly today. The history of Hawaii is truly so interesting, and I highly recommend researching about Hawaiian history if you ever get the chance. Also did you know- The 'Iolani Palace in Hawaii had electricity before the White House? In 1887 Princess Kaiulani flipped the circuit at the Nuuanu Electric Light Station, lighting up the palace! 

What are you passionate about these days?

Right now I would say I'm most passionate about trying to live a healthy lifestyle and practice lots of self care. I'm trying to just stay happy and keep things as simple as possible in these complicated times! 

Tell us how the pandemic impacted you/continues to impact you…

I never would have thought this pandemic would last for so long, and I'm sure others weren't expecting this either. I think the unknown is the most impactful part for myself. I think overall it has caused a level of anxiety in myself that I didn't have before, which is understandable. I think it's important to just take things day by day and try to not get too overwhelmed by the state of our world. It's been really sad to see how many businesses and families have been devastated by losing loved ones, losing jobs and losing their livelihood. But at the same time it's been beautiful to see Hawaii come together as a state to ensure programs are set in place to feed children and adults who don't have access to food. Our healthcare workers in Hawaii and all over the country (and world!) have been true heros and I am so thankful for those people! 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Being out in nature is my favorite place to spend my spare time. I love to hike through the many mountain trails we have here on Oahu, hike through the jungle to waterfalls and just enjoy the beauty of these islands. 

Look in your life’s crystal ball: Where do you think/hope you’ll be 10 years from now, and what do you think/hope you’ll be doing?

Ten years from now I hope to have children and a little family of my own. I hope to own some land here in Hawaii that will allow my family to at least partially sustain ourselves with fruit trees and a big garden to grow vegetables and flowers. I would also love to be living a few months out of the year in a different country, maybe in Asia, where my kids will be able to learn about different cultures. It's also always been a dream of mine to start some sort of non profit or program that will help build schools, or help young adults get into college in Cambodia and Bali.