Ryan Faulkner ’23: Finding Your Passion
Sometimes you must search twice to find your one true passion. That was the case for Ryan Faulkner ’23, who began his time at Texas A&M University as an engineering student but quickly realized his heart wasn’t in it.
“I had been writing my whole life,” Faulkner said. “Not anything publicly, just personally. I really enjoyed it and decided to give journalism a shot.”
Faulkner changed his major to university studies in journalism with a double minor in business and communication. Angelique Gammon*, associate professor of the practice in the Department of Communication and Journalism, made a lasting impact on Faulkner as both a mentor and friend. Gammon taught his first journalism class and later recommended him for an opportunity to write a sports report on an Aggie soccer game for The Battalion. Faulkner said this ignited his passion for writing and encouraged him to pursue it as a career.
“I was the only one in the press box that day, but I was so excited,” Faulkner shared. “After I wrote the story, I realized I had a passion for this. I couldn’t stop grinning.”
Faulkner later became the assistant editor for The Batt sports desk. He said his most notable experiences were the baseball team’s 2021 hiring of Jim Schlossnagle and covering the 2021 Texas A&M-University of Alabama football game when the Aggies claimed a 41-38 upset victory.
The classes Faulkner took during his time as a student allowed him to use the Aggie network and connect with former students. Visiting alumni presented valuable opportunities for Faulkner to develop his skills and gain new experiences.
“I did freelance writing for The Bryan-College Station Eagle, mostly covering Friday night high school football,” Faulkner said. “It helped me grow as a writer and expanded my ability to write in multiple formats.”
Additionally, Faulkner wrote public service announcements and provided radio coverage for the Brazos Valley Bombers. He said this experience made him realize journalism is more than writing: It exists in many forms, including broadcasting.
Faulkner also learned how to juggle a busy schedule. His internships were stacked on top of 18 hours of classes each semester and involvement in several campus organizations, including Fish Camp.
“I thrive on being busy and was fulfilled by constantly having something going on,” Faulkner said. “I’m a thrill-seeker, so the serendipitous lifestyle of journalism is fulfilling for me. Things change quickly and frequently; it’s what I enjoy.”
Faulkner said his determination allowed him to graduate early in December 2021 with his bachelor’s degree in university studies, giving him plenty of time to plan his next career move by reaching out to Aggies at ESPN. In the summer of 2022, Faulkner took a 10-week internship with the ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut. There, he connected with interns from universities across the country, worked with core leadership in the National Basketball Association and high-level executives and met on-air talent.
“I was the only Aggie, but all of the interns came from similar style schools, and it was a giant melting pot of students from across the country,” Faulkner shared. “Not just the SEC, but also Big 10, Big 12 and others.”
His time at ESPN led Faulkner to his next challenge: sports law. This past fall, he began pursuing his J.D. at The University of Texas School of Law.
“Law school is my current focus,” Faulkner shared. “After that, I’d love to go back to ESPN and work in the legal department. My plan for now is to focus on my grades, get involved in extracurricular activities and, since I am in Austin, home trips to Aggieland for football weekends, of course.”
Moving to Longhorn country is something Faulkner said has been challenging.
“I am still trying to accept it,” Faulkner said. “I definitely still bleed maroon.”
Faulkner said he is thankful to have found his one true passion and encourages first-year students to follow suit.
“There is so much you can do,” Faulkner said. “Take this time as a student to explore and find your passion. It can be difficult to find success immediately — keep going with what feels right.”