BY HARRISON TARR
FOR THE OBSERVER
Making a career in print media is an accomplishment that often goes overlooked. The hours are unconventional, no two assignments are alike and an individual’s professional trajectory is anything but linear. For Kendyl Hollingsworth, her career led her back to its roots; the talented writer has returned to The Observer as the organization’s newest reporter.
An alumna of Auburn University in 2018, Hollingsworth has utilized her bachelor of arts in journalism in a number of ways, beginning in her hometown of Madison, Alabama, where she reported on the local beat on behalf of The Madison Record.
According to the young professional, the opportunity arose via a connection made during her tenure as an intern at the Observer in 2018.
“I went up to The Madison Record, a weekly newspaper up in Madison,” Hollingsworth said. “I actually was alerted to that through Rebecca Martin — who’s now Rebecca Yancey — who used to be the associate editor here.”
After catching wind of the opportunity to return to her hometown as a reporter, Hollingsworth returned to northern Alabama as the first stepping stone of her journalistic journey.
“I came on board to that in July or August of 2018,” Hollingsworth said. “I worked there until the end of March 2019. Then the ownership changed hands, so The Madison Record was sold to another company based in North Alabama.”
When the Record was purchased, Hollingsworth found herself presented with a new opportunity: the beginning of her next chapter.
“(The new ownership) already had a weekly newspaper,” Hollingsworth said. “So they merged those two, kept the guy they already had and told me they had an opening at the TimesDaily in Florence. I started there April 1 of 2019 and worked there until mid-November of that year.”
Despite enjoying her newly accepted position, Hollingsworth was compelled to take a hiatus from the journalism field in November of 2019, stepping away to fulfill a spiritual calling.
“The reason I left the TimesDaily was because I felt like I needed to go be a missionary for a little while,” Hollingsworth said. “I did that from January of 2020 to July 2021. Since I’ve come back, I rested for a few months because that was a lot.”
Upon her return — and subsequent recovery — from working as a missionary, the young journalist set her eyes upon finding work back in the reporting realm.
“I was looking for a job, and I guess [Michelle Key, owner of The Observer] knew through Facebook or maybe through (Yancey),” Hollingsworth said. “So [Key] reached out to me and said that they were looking to hire another full-time person in the coming months.”
For Hollingsworth, a reunion with The Observer was an opportunity she could not pass up, she said.
“I really enjoyed interning here at The Observer,” Hollingsworth said. “I really enjoyed my time there and the things I learned, and when the opportunity popped up, it just felt like a huge blessing and an answer to my prayers at the time.”
Per the reporter, the decision to return to Opelika was an easy one.
“It was really good to come back here,” Hollingsworth said. “It’s a place that I love and that I’m familiar with. I get to see a lot of familiar faces but also a lot of new faces and get back into journalism.”
When asked about what she was most looking forward to in her reunion, Hollingsworth’s response was telling of how impactful the Opelika community is upon those who work — or have worked — within it.
“I’m really looking forward to getting plugged into the community again and being able to experience and report on all these awesome changes and all the growth that’s happening here,” Hollingsworth said. “It’s an exciting time and it’s nice to see this place grow up but also — at the same time — keep its charm. The people [in Opelika] are amazing.”
Hollingsworth’s work has vaulted The Observer to new heights in the past, the organization is excited to see her continue that trajectory going forward.