The magazine for Western Washington University

Arntzen Hall

Sarah (Mitchell) Jio ('00)

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"I am one of those people who knew early on that I wanted to be a writer," says Sarah Jio ('00, Journalism - Public Relations). "Exhibit A: I was writing 'books' for my siblings and creating 'newspapers' for my neighborhood at an early age.

"But at some point in my sophomore year at Western, I became a little sidetracked, and frankly, got off track. Lured by the idea of becoming a doctor, I decided to switch my major from Journalism to Biology.

"Looking back, I have no idea what I was thinking, and I may have ended up as a creatively frustrated woman in a white lab coat wondering 'what if' had a former, and truly beloved, journalism professor, the late Pete Steffens, not stopped me in front of Arntzen Hall one cold winter morning.

"He asked me why I wasn't continuing in my journalism courses, and I didn't have a good answer.

"'You're a great writer, Sarah,' he said. 'You ought to come back to journalism.' Those words were all I needed to reset my compass and return my focus, and major, to journalism.

"I went on to be a contributor to major magazines, to become a New York Times bestselling author of five books, and most importantly to pursue the career that I was truly passionate about. And it all began that day in front of Arntzen Hall, where a professor showed that he believed in me. That helped me believe in myself.

"I hate to think about how my life might look had Pete Steffens been too busy to take the time to engage me. I'm so grateful that he did, because that moment changed my life."

Sarah Jio is a contributor to major magazines, including O, The Oprah Magazine, Redbook, Glamour, and The New York Times. She is also the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of five novels, including "The Last Camellia," (Penguin, 2013) "Blackberry Winter" (Penguin 2012) and "The Violets of March" (Penguin 2011) a Library Journal Best Book of 2011. Her most recent, "Morning Glory," was published by Penguin on November 26, 2013. For more about Jio, visit