Farewell column: Short and bittersweet


McNeil Johnston, Graphic Designer

This year on The Appalachian was my first and my last.

From the time I was a freshman on campus, I would always look out for the print copies of The Appalachian to make sure I grabbed one. It was weekly back then, so I made a point to head to the nearest newsstand after my last class on Friday, trek back to my dorm and read what the cool student journalists thought I should know that week. I remember thinking everytime I read a new story, “How can I be a part of this?” Of course, it was only a matter of walking into the newsroom.

I’ve always felt connected to journalism and storytelling, even if it wasn’t me telling the story. I’ve admired great writers and reporters of all kinds for as long as I can remember; I am constantly trying to absorb the important things they have to say. Stories and words have a magnetic pull on me, but it was only this year that I got to experience the true passion that exudes from journalists and writers like those on The Appalachian. I will forever be amazed by you all. This past year I have kicked myself over and over for not joining this staff sooner. Thanks to the urgent need for a graphics editor, I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time, and was on boarded as soon as I could apply. You all are a force to be reckoned with, and I am filled with immense gratitude and pride for having been a part of this incredible team. 

Serving as Graphics Editor was an incredible experience. For someone who loves to be around all the disciplines of journalism, assembling the papers and commissioning the graphics was a perfect place to be. I have loved observing and participating in the operations and the meticulous details of production, even into the late (late, late) hours of the night. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. 

Good luck to my successors Kaitlyn Close and Rian Hughes; I cannot wait to see what kind of incredible art and new ideas you bring to this organization. Have fun with it all! 

Thank you to Dr. Allison Bennett Dyche, who wrote my graduate school recommendation letters and talked me through the process of what higher education might look like for a creative. You inspire me and everyone else on these pages oh-so-much. 

Thank you to Danniel Smith, who wants me to believe in myself more, and who told me that I’d probably love working with this organization, and would learn some valuable stuff — you were obviously right.

Thank you to my sweet family for always supporting me and being proud of me, despite how busy I make myself, whether that is a good or bad thing. 

And thank you to the friends I have made, old and new, during my four years at this wonderful university. All of you have helped me grow, succeed and love the life I have gotten to build myself here in this beautiful place. Nothing has ever tasted so bittersweet.