As cliche as it sounds, saying goodbye truly is never easy. This is especially accurate when saying goodbye to the place and people that have come to mean so much to me.
Unlike many of the people I have had the opportunity to work with, only a year of my college career was spent working with The Appalachian. Still, it was by far the best year I have had in a very long time.
When I first saw the “now hiring” sign hanging on the door to the student union in the spring of my junior year, I thought little of it as I kept on walking, day in and day out. One day, for whatever reason, I decided to do something I rarely ever do: stop and read it.
That moment was honestly one of the best decisions I have made in the past four years.
Being an international and comparative politics major and applying to be the web manager and editorial board member for a college newspaper was not something I originally thought of doing. Believe it or not, there are very few links in international politics to web design or even journalism. As a result, it is still a topic of discussion to this day on why I work for the paper.
Web design was a hobby of mine in middle and high school when I first moved to North Carolina and needed something to keep me busy. It was something that I could do for hours on end without getting bored, helping me feel accomplished and proud of my work.
That sign on the door came at a time when I needed to make a change in my life. Instead of sitting around all day doing nothing and not bothering to get involved, I saw it as an opportunity to once again pick up an old hobby of mine and try something new.
I went home that day and applied to be the web manager for the 2015-16 school year, something I was very nervous about doing. I did not feel qualified. I had no journalism experience, the last website I worked on was one for my uncle years before. A lot of the people who worked there had been there for years before me and I worried about being an outsider.
Still, I was hired. A lot of those fears went away shortly after starting the fall semester.
I met some absolutely fantastic people who, though friends with each other for years, made me feel welcome in an environment I was new to.
With the new redesign of the physical paper, I was able to make my mark online with a redesign of the website. I had the opportunity to travel to Austin, Texas to learn more about college media and journalism. I was able to write an opinion on Donald Trump, report on a sports story, be a part of a feature story and have an impact on the future of the newspaper as a whole.
People at the newspaper like to poke fun at the fact that I’m not an emotionally open person. Little do they know that it comes out in my writing.
The opportunities given to me while working at the newspaper, the skills I picked up and the work I accomplished are all things I would not trade anything in the world for.
My absolute biggest regret in college is not having joined the newspaper earlier. A year is not nearly long enough to truly enjoy the environment and people I came to enjoy and love.
I am eternally grateful for the people I met while here and wish I had more time to spend with all of you to get to know you even better. Without the newspaper, I do not know where I would be today.
Oftentimes I would come into the newsroom just to hang out with other editors, do homework, and just relax. I never had to be there as much as I was, but to me the newsroom became much more than just work. It was a place where I knew I would be happy and included, somewhere I could go when I wanted to escape everything else.
The leap I took when applying for the newspaper is something I will never regret and will always remember. I look back at this past year as being one of great joy, friends, and memories.
To those of you graduating, I wish you luck in everything you do here on out. I know you will make the best of it and become who you want to be.
To those of you sticking around for another year or two, I am sure you will continue to make The Appalachian a great paper and make the best out of your remaining time here in school. Things can get rocky at times, but remember to keep your head up. There is a lot of good out there.
Thank you to Malik, Allison, Charlotte, Andrew, Justin, Samantha, Lee, Kevin, Katie, Aleah, Stephanie, Iggy, Carl, Carson, Chris and Dallas for all having a significant impact on my life and making my time at The Appalachian one to remember. Even though I will be in China, I hope to hear from all of you – call me, text me, email me, message me on the social media of your choice. No matter where I am, I will always be around.
I know it is cheesy to end on a quote, but I really don’t care. I’ll be me, you be you.
“Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people.” – Tecumseh