May 08, 2015
What Steven Urena '11 really wanted to be when he grew up was a professional wrestler with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), perhaps following in the footsteps of greats Steve Austin and Andre the Giant.
As a young boy, he eagerly shared his dream with his parents. Their response: Absolutely not. They were afraid he'd get hurt.
But he didn't give up on his dream of being part of the WWE-he just changed gears from wrestling to writing. It's a skill that has served him well since his graduation from Susquehanna University in 2011.
Instead of becoming a wrestler, beginning at age 15, Urena would attend matches, interview the fans and wrestlers, and send his stories to websites and blogs, many of which began to publish the teen's work.
His tenacity paid off when, nine years after he first started submitting (unpaid) bylines, Urena was hired as a junior copywriter for the WWE, focusing mainly on merchandise.
"It's been a dream come true," he said. "Everything over the last nine years was worth it."
To understand his journey, we need to rewind a bit. When Urena came to Susquehanna, he declared a major in communications and a creative writing minor, with his eye on the WWE.
"I knew in order to develop my voice and stand out that I had to learn different forms of writing," he said.
At Susquehanna's Writers Institute, Urena learned the intricacies of story development, and how to write in different genres. Shortly after graduation, Urena worked as a radio news anchor and writer for a Hackettstown, N.J., radio station. But after two years, he was laid off.
It was a major disappointment. But even while he was employed at the radio station, Urena continued to snag freelance writing assignments with newspapers and magazines.
"Sometimes you doubt yourself, but you pick yourself back up and find out it's worth it," he said. "All those things were stepping stones, designed to get me here."
"Here" is the WWE, where Urena takes great pride in having his eyes or hands fall on most of the T-shirts and programs they create. He even appeared as the pizza boy in the WWE's and Ad Council's fatherhood campaign.
Urena hopes to continue growing his career there.
"I feel at home here and I feel like this is what I'm supposed to be doing," he said.