They say that finding like-minded people is part of the college experience. You’re finally out of high school and, at least in my case, moving away from the 200 people you’ve been going to school with since kindergarten. For some, like me, college can mean moving to a bigger city, and going to school with people who don’t look and think like you for the first time. From what I remember, my graduating class had only a handful of non-white students.
Starting at Missouri State, I was surrounded by people of different races, cultures and backgrounds for the first time. I shared classes with Chinese exchange students, a soccer player from England and a few Muslim students, to name a few.
But as I started my sophomore year, having switched majors again for the third time, I wondered how much college had really led me to finding those like-minded people I’d been promised, and to finding my niche.
Second semester sophomore year, I started my first classes in journalism. One of my professors, Jack Dimond, told me I should join the student paper if I wanted to pursue journalism. So I started the training program, and in mid-October the next semester, I went to my first meeting in the newsroom in Clay Hall.
Immediately, I felt out of place. I think I was the only person there from my group of trainees. I was new. I only knew a few people by their names and where they sat in shared classes. I’d never really spoken to any of them.
I’ll admit, I left that meeting feeling like I’d never fit in. I thought I’d joined too late.
As the weeks went on that semester, I learned more names. I still didn’t talk much, but I became more comfortable in the room. I could laugh at jokes and felt like I could say something, if I had something to say.
It wasn’t until August 2018, the beginning of my senior year, that I really felt like I’d finally found those people I’d been looking for. I had amazing friends before, of course, but they had their own interests and I had mine. But as I started spending long days, sometimes up to 15 hours, with my fellow editors, I knew I’d found people who shared my passions.
Amanda, Nina, Cortlynn, Kaitlyn, Bill and Hanna have become one of my favorite groups of people. I learned so much from each of them, and I owe parts of my growth as a journalist and as a person to them.
We spent way too much time together sometimes, but I wouldn’t take back an hour of it.
I feel like this column was supposed to be about my time at the paper, talking about my work and my progress as a journalist, but when I think about saying goodbye to The Standard, I’m really thinking about saying goodbye to them, and how thankful I am to have worked with them.
I’m grateful to Bill and Kaitlyn for endless puns and funny tweets and Smarties and all the effort they put in to bring visuals to our words. I wish we had gotten to spend more time together. The newsroom would be a duller place without them.
I’m grateful to Hanna for all of the help she gave me as my deputy news editor in the fall semester. I couldn’t have survived without her, and honestly I don’t know how I made it through the spring alone.
I’m grateful to Amanda for her friendship, an inspiring amount of dedication and for indulging my Chick-fil-A addiction. I admire her leadership. I can’t wait to see how far she’ll go.
I’m grateful to Nina for her attention to detail, and for pushing me to be a better designer, editor and journalist. I look forward to exploring the next step in our careers, together, in Jefferson City.
Last, but not at all least, I’m grateful to Cortlynn for her leadership, passion and talent. Of course, I’m also grateful she decided to give me my amazing job. I owe a lot to her. I can’t wait to celebrate her first Pulitzer Prize win 10 years from now.
I’m so grateful for the entire Standard staff, past and present, even those I didn’t know well, for allowing me to be a part of this amazing group. To be led by, and lead, promising future journalists. Knowing I had any affect on this paper or this staff is the most rewarding thing to come from my time at Missouri State.
I can’t wait to see you all continue to grow and #SetTheStandard for journalism. Thank you.