Senior Goodbye: Justin Perry


Justin Perry

There’s a running joke in the office that I’ve quit more times that people can keep up with. While not entirely true, I have held six positions in four years, one of which I made up by accident. I’ve seen our staff dwindle to 30 and grow to nearly 100. I’ve quit three times, only to come walking back in the door a week later.

After four years of wondering why, I think I’ve finally figured out what it is that keeps pulling me back to room 217 of the student union.

Inside these four gray walls work the best, most creative, dedicated students on this entire campus. They also happen to be the best people I’ve ever met in my entire life.

I walked into this office freshman year with Andrew Clausen, a kid like me who was trying to figure himself and this new place called college out one Club Expo at a time. He had a passion for putting words into sentences and sentences into paragraphs. I had a passion for capturing light in a box with a piece of glass. Naturally, The Appalachian seemed like a good fit for us both. Little did I know that we had just made what was probably our most life changing decision.

Fast forward one year and somehow we’re both editors. It’s 3 a.m. and we’re still awake by the light of one dorm room lamp along with Malik Rahili, another amazing guy we met along the way. Open on our laptop is what we affectionately called “The Appalachian 2.0,” a redesign of our publication that we made entirely from scratch simply because we wanted too. Simply because we were passionate.

Without that passion this place would cease to exist, and perhaps that’s the true story here. Late at night when most students are off neglecting to study or “Netflix and chilling,” our staff is here writing, photographing, editing and designing. The energy never dies in this room. We love our readers, we love this campus, we love storytelling and we love this office. For better or for worse, The Appalachian has become a part of our soul.

Since joining, I’ve shot countless sporting events, met the president of the UNC system, spent a week documenting the Boone mayoral candidates, gotten lost in New York and shot photos from the rafters in Convocation Center. There are more amazing stories than I could possibly recount, but none of them mean anything without the people who I experienced them with.

This is the part where I list all of the people who meant something to me, did something special or changed my life simply by working alongside me. It can in no way be exhaustive, because I only get so many words on a page and I’ve met so many incredible people, but I can try my best.

To Andrew, Malik, Stephanie and Ashley, thank you for believing in me and always supporting my ideas. I couldn’t have asked for a better crew.

To Allison, thank you for putting up with my crap and being willing to keep it real with me. Your guidance has helped more than you realize.

To Paul Heckert, Michael Bragg and Maggie Cozens, thank you for pushing me to do better and never letting my passion for journalism or photography die. You three were more than friends, you were mentors.

To Molly, thank you for helping me become a better leader and a better person.

To everyone who has ever decided that they liked me enough to work for me, thank you for allowing me to make an impact in your life. I am grateful for every one of you.

To every other editor I’ve ever worked with, thank you for the laughs, the good times and for helping keep me sane. You all are some of the most hard working and amazing people I’ll ever meet. I’m proud of you all.

To Dallas, never let your passion for photography die. Never stop seeing differently. Photos have the power to change the world.

Finally, to our readers, thank you for helping us put out twice a week since 1934.