Editor Farewell: Ren Gennerman

Ren Gennerman, Features Editor

It’s funny. When Liv Volkman-Johnson, a former Features Editor, first hired me as a Features writer, she told me “you will get out of this what you put into it.” Liv is brilliant and wonderful and while I think the world of her, I have to say that in this instance, she is wrong. While I committed a small part of my life to this paper, I have gotten back tenfold what I have put in. And now, in my last article for this wonderful publication, I have to say goodbye. 

Gabriel, you were my first hire as Features Editor, and man am I glad to have made that decision. You have far exceeded all my expectations. You are a phenomenal writer who surpasses all my standards. I hope that you only grow as a writer in your years at The Winonan and I one day hope that you are also on the editing team. Thank you for all that you do.   

Noah, you are one of the best film writers I have ever seen. Your work is witty, thoughtful and often hilarious. Believe it or not, your recommendations have fueled many of my own movie nights. I am so excited to see what you do next. Just make sure to send me the article about you one day! 

Hannah, you are a constant light both in my office hours and out. You are the most considerate person I have ever met, and I am so honored to have been your editor and your friend. Your texts with ideas for both you and other writers made me excited to read everyone’s articles in the coming week, and your dedication to others is something to be admired. The very fact that you stepped up to help train in new writers (an unpaid position, might I add) should just go to show your love of journalism and your commitment to helping others. I have also grown so much under our friendship and am so thankful with the lessons you have provided me with your unequivocal emotional intelligence. I would not have been as successful a leader without you, and I am so grateful for that. I am so excited to see what you will do next. Make sure to send me your first Vogue article so I can show all my teacher friends the success of one of my first students (though Lord knows you taught me so much more than I could have taught you).  

Kellen, clearly our connection goes far past The Winonan, as we share a major and you are one of my best friends. What I appreciate even more than your incredible writing is your willingness to call me out when I have made a mistake or need to improve. You tell me these things, not because you want to embarrass me, but because you care about me and want to see this team succeed. It is under you that I got my ideas for feedback as well as having a more narrative structure. You constantly make me be better and I hope that doesn’t end when I go off to student teaching. Thank you for your influence in my leadership. Thank you for your love of this team. Thank you for your dedication to teaching others and always improving.  

Maurice, I am sad that we never really got to be in the same place this semester, but I am so glad to have been on the team with you. Your pages are always creative, and I am in constant awe of how you publish sports stories in the middle of a pandemic that is not exactly sport friendly. I am excited to see what you will do next semester when there are (hopefully) actual games. 

Kristin, I was so honored to have trained you into the copy editor position. You are a fun person to have at editing and I am honored to have you as part of the team. We also share a major and I have been so lucky to have you play a more active role in my life in the past year. Thank you for taking on a position of leadership when you were unsure. I am so excited to see you as a teacher, and I hope this next semester is amazing.  

Mo, you are the sweetest human being I have ever met. I never thought that working at my college newspaper would introduce me to someone as compassionate as you, and yet here we are. I love how you are always late when I pick you up, or how you take pictures of us when we aren’t looking as a form of affection. You have single-handedly convinced me that your chicken biryani is better than anyone else’s I’ve had. But most of all, you have turned into one of my favorite people in Winona. I am so excited to see where your photography takes you. Just make sure to text me when you win your first award. 

McKenna, when I first met you, we were writing in the same section. I just thought of you as the person who always looked like a supermodel during budget meetings while the rest of us looked like gremlins. But as you and I have both grown, I have seen your writing grow exponentially. Now, you are going to be the Editor-in-Chief, and I am so excited for you. Your leadership qualities are something to be admired, and your goal to always have the best publication is incredible. You better believe I will be checking The Winonan website every Wednesday during my student teaching to see what you and your writers have written next.  

Matt, when I met you, you were covered in sweat and dirt eating blueberry French toast out of a Tupperware during our first professional meeting. Suffice to say not much has changed, except now you usually bring honeycrisp apples to share. In our first meeting, you told me you wanted to be an editor and that you were willing to do anything you needed to get there. You have covered fires, emergency quarantines, museum events, politics and more. Though it is hard for me to hand over a section that I am incredibly proud of, I know I am giving it to highly capable hands. Thank you for sticking through criticisms, cancellations and contentious sources. I am so proud of you and I am honored to have been your editor. You will do amazing things; just make sure to include me in your future celebrations, and I will continue to send you Kanye memes.  

Morgan, my little baddie, my boo thang, my favorite shawty, there are no words for what we went through this semester. To say we were handed a dumpster fire composed of COVID-19, a contentious election and a small staff is an understatement. Yet, I keep the same sentiment I told you when you first found out you were going to be Editor-in-Chief: I think you are an incredible leader and I will follow you wherever you need me to go. I have learned something else from our partnership as well: we make amazing friends. From the late-night calls to COVID scares, to editing and formatting at your house until 2 a.m., we make an unbeatable team. You are one of my best friends in the whole world, and part of what makes saying goodbye to The Winonan so hard is saying goodbye to you. Thank you, my amazing friend, for pushing me to be better and encouraging me the whole way. Thank you for trusting me to lead your team. Thank you for being the best leader and friend I could ask for. I love you and I am forever grateful. 

According to my calculations, I have written 69 stories for The Winonan. I have held the position of Features reporter, Copy Editor, Online Editor, Business Manager and Features Editor. I have met people and heard stories that have made me change my perspective on life. I have won awards and made lots of mistakes.  

But the one thing I am most proud of is how I have helped to form a team that no longer needs me. This team survived despite a pandemic (which included most of us going home), an executive administration hell bent on endangering journalists, funding cuts and the entire year of 2020. Yet, we only continue to grow.  

I know that Matt, McKenna, Alek, Mo and everyone else will lead this publication to do amazing things, and for that, I am so excited. Thank you to The Winonan for contributing to the best four years of my life. I will never forget it.