Photo courtesy of Jesse Merrick '12
Photo courtesy of Jesse Merrick '12

Living His Dream

by University Relations

As a boy, Jesse Merrick ’12 dreamed big. One day, he would be a professional athlete.

“It’s cliché, but sports are in my blood,” said Merrick, whose great-grandfather played for the Boston Red Sox. “I didn’t make the high school baseball team, so I played football.”

At Azusa Pacific, wide receiver Merrick found a place on the team and a new dream. “I started writing at APU, and I knew I wanted to work in sports. During my junior year, I applied for internships at every TV station possible. FOX 11 gave me a shot. That was my first taste, and I knew this would be my career.” When Merrick finished that internship, he landed one at ABC 7 his senior year. “I’ll never forget my first day. We were covering a Lakers game. I’m a lifelong fan, so I was nervous. We’re in the locker room, and [reporter/anchor] Curt Sandoval grabs me and says, ‘Let’s go interview Kobe [Bryant].’ I was starstruck. I did a lot of cool things during that internship, and Curt became my mentor.”

After graduating with his bachelor’s degree in communication studies in spring 2012, Merrick became a production assistant for the sports department and then news department at ABC 7, working as a field producer, engineer technician, camera operator, and assignment editor. During that time, he also spent six months as an assignment desk assistant with the NFL Network. But his big break arrived in August 2014, when he became a full-time sports anchor/reporter at News Channel 5 in Grand Junction, Colorado. “The biggest lessons I learned at APU came while playing for Coach Victor Santa Cruz: Do what’s expected of you and work harder than everyone else,” he said. “I pride myself on my work ethic; it was nice to get noticed for that.”

Down the road, Merrick hopes to get noticed by a major sports network. “The chances may be slim, but so were the chances of getting a job as a sports reporter in Grand Junction,” he said. “I put in a lot of hard work to get here. You have to persevere in this industry and be prepared to work hard every day. If you love what you do, though, it doesn’t feel like work.”

Merrick’s determination fueled his career success. Soon, future generations of Azusa Pacific students will be able to follow in his footsteps with a distinct advantage as the new broadcast journalism major launches in fall 2015. If he had it to do over again, Merrick would not change a thing. “I wouldn’t be who I am today without my APU experience,” he said. “It’s exciting to think about what’s in store for the students who get to study broadcast journalism and expand our impact in the industry.”

Originally published in the Spring '15 issue of APU Life. Download the PDF or view all issues.