Editor Farewell: Alek LaShomb

Alek LaShomb, News Editor

When I first toured Winona State University in the summer of 2015, I had never considered the journey that was before me. As a naïve 19-year-old, I expected a paved golden road that would lead me to a diploma. As my family and friends know, life had a different plan for me.
I failed. I failed pretty bad. I left Winona State in the fall of 2016 with a 1.47 GPA. I still remember the day I called my mother crying, expressing how hopeless I felt.
2017 was the beginning of a long, winding, heart-thumping road to redemption. I reenrolled for the fall semester at Minnesota State Southeast Tech in 2017. It was there I completed my generals, something I had failed to do at Winona State. In the fall of 2017, I passed English 1215, the equivalent of Winona State’s 111 course, after a previous failed two attempts. Go figure.
After roughly two years of determination, I had completed my generals at Minnesota State Southeast Tech. Upon completion, I had decided to return to the very place I was defeated only three years prior, Winona State.
I arrived at Winona State in the spring of 2019 with my major, journalism, and minor, political science, flip flopped. Journalism seemed far out of grasp but yet I held on. It was that spring that I met a professor who would change my outlook on journalism: Professor John Vivian. Through his news writing course, I learned the hard, gritty, basics of journalism. Always cut junk. Make sure to case a joint before you show up for an event or interview. Get the facts right. Through this class, my passion for journalism was rekindled.
Through Professor Vivian’s classes and other journalism classes, such as courses taught by Professor Grier and Professor Hannahan, I have learned more than I ever could have hoped. I have met friends and colleagues that I hold dear to my heart, although they may not know it.
My experiences and tribulations brought me to the Winonan’s doorstep prior to the start of the worst pandemic the United States has experienced since the Spanish Flu, COVID-19.
Morgan Reddekopp, whom is a rear end kicking journalist, welcomed me with open arms to the Winonan. I was hesitant, doubting my abilities, but Morgan had reassured me that I was at home.
My first article with the Winonan threw me, as they say, out of the frying pan and into the fire. I attended a Black Lives Matter protest on a whim and interviewed city officials along with students participating in the historic and deepfelt movement. McKenna Scherer, the Winonan’s fierce editor in chief, collaborated with me on the first issue. Thus, my journalism path had begun.
When I look back at my first article in the fall of 2020, I feel like I’m reading someone else’s start to a beautiful journey. The Winonan has taken me by storm. Through each article I have felt closer and closer to my intended calling, while also becoming closer with the magnificent people that make this student newspaper’s wheels turn. I would like to thank those at the Winonan who make my life and others’ a brighter place to exist.
Maurice- Although we have never met, I hold great admiration for you. To be able to balance school, the student paper as the sports editor and writing for a professional publication in Minneapolis makes me awe struck. You are a true professional that is dedicated. Wherever your journey’s lead you next, I wish you the best of luck. I hope when COVID subsides, or when I travel back to Minneapolis, we can meet and exchange editing horror stories.
Mo- You capture the Winonan’s spirit. You have taken some amazing photos for the Winonan and seem to have an amazing side gig going on as well. I will forever remember editing nights that consisted of a wide array of topics, from religious affiliations to youthful antics. Sharing a laugh or insight with you has always put me in a better mood. I wish you the best of luck on your future endeavors and am extremely happy you’re in good health. Thank you for being a welcoming and accepting friend.
Kristin- Go news! You are an exceptional writer and an even better friend. I will always appreciate our Marvel entertainment talks, ranging from WandaVision to other corners of that seemingly endless universe. You have a spirit, which I would say is on par with Matt’s, that brightens everyone’s day. I wish you the best of luck with your teaching career. Wherever you teach, your students will be extremely lucky to have a valid Ms. Kovalsky as a teacher.
McKenna- When I first met you, Vivian was raving about your budget article you wrote for the Winonan. At the time, I did not know it, but you are truly a venerated journalist. I am grateful to have a colleague, editor in chief and friend that is as knowledgeable and skilled as a journalist as you are. I will always remember grinding out editing night, sometimes until 2:30 a.m, with you, while discussing a plethora of shared interests. I want to thank you for being a most valid friend and teacher. Without you, I would not be fit or ready to assume the news editor role when I did. There are very few that possess that same level of tenacity as a journalist that you hold. I hope you pursue this awesome, confusing, whirwind of a career when you graduate.
Matt- My man. I am going to miss you and I say that dearly. You have been like a younger brother to me throughout the past two years. You have taught me much and have always pushed me to become a better man. Your infinite wisdom and joyous energy have always slapped a smile on my face, no matter the weather. You are an incredibly talented writer, journalist and climber, of course. There are some humans that are rare to come across and, my friend, you fall into that category. I will never forget hiking, talking extensively, exchanging musical opinions, (although I still do not dig Bladee) and sharing a good laugh. You are a dependable, honest and loyal friend. I wish you the best of luck with your future career, which no doubt will be an adventurous pursuit and hope you keep bringing the Good Vibrations.
To my news writers, I am proud of the work you have all produced this past year. Continue to shed light on the corners shrouded in darkness. The stories you all report on are gravely important, ensuring a transparent connection between the community and local governance. I will miss all of you.
To quote one of my favorite songs, My Way by Frank Sinatra, “For what is a man, what has he got? If not himself, then he has naught, to say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels, the record shows, I took the blows and did it my way.”