Three crazy, memorable years

As I wrap up my final week with The Flor-Ala after three long, crazy, stressful but memorable years, I can’t help but smile at the staff I’m leaving behind and the organization others and I have created.

When I was in high school, I felt very much like an outcast and only knew that I wanted to turn my love for writing into some kind of career. I had very little direction, few friends and didn’t have a place where I felt I belonged. However, college turned all of that around for me.

The Flor-Ala, in many ways, helped to put me on the right path and became my home away from home. As a result of working for this publication, I feel I’ve become a stronger, wiser, more informed, educated, prepared and confident person who is ready to face the “real world” with self-assurance.

My last year with The Flor-Ala has been a challenging, but rewarding, one. I’ve experienced difficult things and had to make some pretty tough decisions that didn’t always leave me feeling like the most popular person in the room.

I’ve grown a thick skin and can face adversity with confidence as a result of working in this position. I can approach situations that make me uncomfortable if it means that I’m helping to change things for the better.

The job was definitely harder than I thought it would be when I was first hired, but as I approach graduation, I know that the experiences I gained during the course of my time with The Flor-Ala were worth every sleepless night, angry phone call, headache, etc.

I’m walking away from my newspaper and university with my head held high. I was hired on for this position because I had a vision to instill journalistic integrity and quality in The Flor-Ala, and I’m confident my staff achieved this during the last year.

We reported the news with enthusiasm, fairness, and only one group in mind: UNA students, our readers. We worked hard to improve on our flaws so we could become a better media outlet that provided quality information, photos and online content each week.

I couldn’t have gotten anywhere, though, without my terrific staff. It breaks my heart that soon I won’t be sharing an office with the people who I now consider my dearest friends. They are talented individuals with so much potential, and I’m just honored I had the chance to work side by side with them.

My adviser, Rebecca, has been a pillar of support for me during the last two years. I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor or friend. I always knew I could lean on her and seek advice—and I’ll probably continue to do so years after graduation.

I wish the best of luck to my successor, Josh Skaggs, who will take on the role of executive editor after my tenure is up. Josh, you have a challenging road ahead of you, but I believe your love for this field will guide you along, and I’m absolutely certain that you and your staff will bring the paper to new heights.

The experiences I gained from The Flor-Ala as a writer, news/managing editor, and eventually executive editor were so invaluable I could never begin to possibly list all of the things I have learned.

All I know is that what I took from The Flor-Ala in terms of my journalism education taught me more than I ever would have learned in the classroom. The relationships I have fostered and experiences I have gained have helped me grow professionally and personally.

Thank you to everyone who has shown me kindness, offered a helping hand, provided me with advice, given me a second chance and been there with me along my journey. I’m excited about whatever new adventure awaits me in life.

Most of all, thank you to our readers. Without you, we’re nothing. Thank you for giving us a reason to wake up every day to do these jobs so that we can serve you by providing useful, timely information through journalistic storytelling.

For that, I am incredibly grateful.