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Opinion: A coming of age tale

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What was your first job?

It’s a simple question that unlocks a cache of memories.

I was a waitress at a Chinese restaurant for four years before joining the noble profession of journalism. I worked there partly because the owner was an old family friend and partly because I was a poor college student and cashew chicken was free on days you worked.

It’s a question I posed to this year’s class of 40 Under 40, and the answers were as varied as the honorees themselves. From dishwasher to little league scorekeeper and feed loader to landscaper, it’s safe to say nobody truly loved their first job, but those jobs served more purpose than just a paycheck. They taught our younger selves the importance of hard work and doing your best.

This year, the 40 Under 40 awards officially enter adulthood. The 2016 class is the 18th to be honored. And with age, comes wisdom. Winston Churchill once said, “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”

The 40 Under 40 publication has undergone numerous changes, transitioning into the standard half-page articles run since before I took over as features editor in 2012.

I’ve stuck to the status quo – until now. Hold on to your seats because the winds of change are blowing strong through the next 24 pages. We’ve streamlined the profiles, bumped up the eye-catching graphics and expanded everyone’s favorite part, the Q&A section. But the change generating most buzz is the 40 Under 40 Yearbook.

In past years, a simple, typed listing of each honoree by class was printed. This year, we upped our game. The editorial staff selected an honoree from each year and called them up to ask: So, where are you now?

Did you know Dave Snider’s in Alaska, Dr. Robert Steele is in Arkansas and Jonathan Gano is in Des Moines, Iowa? It’s a nostalgic walk down memory lane.

What didn’t change this year is the selection process. Up-and-comers still are nominated by the public and judged by an independent panel. Though some have tried, you can’t buy an SBJ 40 Under 40 award.

SBJ has once again partnered with a local charity to raise community awareness during the event. This year it’s March of Dimes, which has made it a mission to prevent premature birth and decrease infant mortality. It seems only fitting as this event passes into adulthood, we help the smallest among us have a chance at the same. I invite everyone to join the party March 24 as we celebrate the 40 and raise money for the cause.

And to the little event who is all grown up – happy birthday kid. You’re an adult now.


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