How are you supposed to say goodbye to the best three years of your life? Honestly, I don’t know how. I’ve been putting off writing this letter because I didn’t want to admit that my time with the Winonan was coming to an end. It’s been heartbreaking for me. But I’ll save everyone the sob story and try to keep this as short as possible.
I would like to preface this with the fact that I nearly quit the Winonan two weeks into working for it because I was an AWFUL sports reporter, I had no idea what I was doing and I felt like I didn’t belong. Everyone was telling me to quit, that it wasn’t worth the stress. Despite this, I stayed with it. Something in my gut told me to.
The start of the following year, I joined SCJ. One of the best decisions of my life. I met so many amazing people and was able to coordinate some pretty amazing trips (Washington D.C., amiright?) and I don’t know where I would be without them.
So. Onto the hard part I suppose. I’ll start with my amazing staff.
Noah, you’re a dork. But MAN, your movie reviews made me laugh. You have a keen eye for film and your commentary is what makes your reviews so entertaining to read. Keep following your passion, you’ve got a knack for what you do.
Kelly, I didn’t work with you for long but I’m glad I was able to. You’re a great writer and I know you’re going to continue to become a better writer.
Matt, you didn’t even get a chance to write for me, but you were so excited about all the projects you were going to write about, it was inspiring. Keep up the amazing work with the Winonan.
Kellen, you are a light in my life and I am so incredibly blessed I have been able to spend the past year calling myself your friend. You are so passionate in everything you do, you bring happiness and light to everyone’s lives even when you are struggling yourself, and you are going to make the BEST teacher someday. You just radiate love and joy, you’re like a sunflower on a cloudy day. You have improved so much in your writing and your literary skills and I can’t wait to see what you do in the future, because you are going to touch so many lives. Thank you for always bringing a smile to my face, or a plant to my doorstep.
Hipps. I cannot thank you for the hard work and dedication you have brought to the Winonan. You are so so so passionate about journalism and making sure everything is right that I can seriously see you reporting for the New York Times someday. You live to build others up, and it’s so pure and wonderful. I always loved your random visits to the office during my office hours just to chat about your week and say hi. It seriously made my day. Your infectious joy for life and dedication to journalism will continue to drive the Winonan and your future career. I’ll see you in the big leagues someday, I just know it.
Mckenna, you may have ditched me for news, but you’ve been one of my strongest writers since day one. Watching your writing style evolve over the past year from a PR standpoint to a full-blown journalist is absolutely incredible. You even managed to snag an award at ACP this year, how amazing is that! You’re going to be a great news editor. You have so much potential, I know you are absolutely destined for great things. Not to mention, you always look like a model. ALWAYS.
Now, one of the hardest parts… my editing team. My rocks through tough times in the past year.
Mo, holy cow. You are seriously the funniest person I have ever met, and I find out new facts about you every single day. You never cease to amaze me. Your photography skills are absolutely top notch, and just continue to get better and better. You brought so much laughter and happiness into Monday editing nights, and I am going to miss it so much. Whether it was telling me about how you drove 130 mph in Saudi Arabia or how you “cannot feel sadness”, you always brightened my day and made me laugh. The Winonan is so lucky to have you. You have brought so much happiness and unity to the staff, I’m going to miss you so much.
Morgan, you brought the absolute most chaotic energy I have ever seen in one human being into the office every single day and it was truly the most frightening and hilarious thing I have seen. You truly are a feral racoon in a human body. But beyond that, your ability to adapt so quickly to situations and learn what you needed to as fast as possible is amazing. You adapted from copy editor, to news editor, and now to editor in chief. I don’t think the paper could have ended up in any better hands. You are going to continue the legacy this staff has built over the past few years and lead your writers to greatness. I am so proud of you and everything you have accomplished.
Maddie, what can I say? You are my boyfriend, after all. You traveled with me to Washington D.C. and had a conversation about scrambled eggs with me on a plane while I was fully asleep. You put up with my constant annoyance for a year and a half and somehow managed to not kill me, which is really impressive. It may have taken a few times of hiding my coffee so I would shut up, but you didn’t kill me. You are so strong and determined, you literally can do anything you set your mind to. You built SCJ back from the ground up, and I loved being able to watch and to help you through that process. You’re going to be an incredible journalist. And, if you need someone to be the Dory to your Bruce, you know where to find me. I love you “Swan Song”.
Mitchell, I literally thought you were a freshman when you joined the Winonan. Turns out you were just a transfer student. You may be quiet in appearance, but you are truly anything but. You have proven to be a great leader and editor in chief, and you kept the Winonan on track when things (literally) fell apart and we couldn’t even print. You kept the paper going, and that is true dedication. Your quiet, sly humor made Monday nights so much more bearable, and it was really nice to have someone to geek out to sports about. You never gave up on me, even when I was falling apart, and pushed me to keep going and be the best sports reporter I could be. Heck, I even won an ACP award thanks to you. You are such a talented guy, and I loved every minute of working with you (even if I drove you insane 75% of the time and bought you floaties to make fun of you almost drowning at a journalism conference). Keep on being incredible. I’ll never forget how much you pushed me and inspired me to keep going.
And finally, the hardest one to write of them all. Ren, I don’t even know what to say at this point. You were the first person I met on the staff, and ultimately became one of my greatest friends. You are so passionate about everything that you do and will not cease until you are satisfied with your work. You put others before yourself so often, and basically act as the parent and encyclopedia of the group. Somehow, you seem to know everything. And it always, ALWAYS amazes me. I am so proud of you. Not for just your journalism work, but for your strive to keep going and to be the best person you possibly can be. To speak up for those who may not be able to have a voice. To fight for what’s right, even though it’s difficult. When you won that award at ACP for your sexual assault article, I felt so much pride and joy. I knew how hard you worked, how many tears were shed, and it all paid off. I still cry when I look at that picture of us because I know that you will forever continue to be an advocate for others. Your passion for teaching, journalism, and everything you do is so inspiring, and you manage to do it all with a calm demeanor while also having highly chaotic energy and the ability to constantly ask, “Would you still be friends with me if_____?” (My favorite was if you were a nun with a pen for an eye.) You made and continue to make every day better for me. Keep doing what you’re doing. You are going to change lives. I love you my favorite Hufflepuff yeah yeah I know, “that’s gay”), never forget it. And if you need someone to make 15+ bouquets of newspaper roses with you at 1 a.m., you know where to find me. You have forever touched my life and changed me as a person.
To the rest of the Winonan staff I did not personally address, thank you for putting up with my chaotic butt every Sunday night and not yelling at me when I let a goose run across my desktop/projection for an entire meeting. You made every week worth it, being able to see everyone on Sunday night and know that I was a part of something bigger than myself. Kristin and Maurice, you’re going to be awesome editors. Keep the staff going, they’ll need your energy to keep their spirits up.
Thank you, to the entire Winonan staff. You were, and always will be, my family. I love you all. Thank you for the best three years of my life.
The opinions expressed in this paper are not necessarily those of Winona State University, the Minnesota State Colleges and University system, or the Winona State University student body.