Editor Farewell: McKenna Scherer

McKenna Scherer, editor-in-chief

I have never been able to explain what The Winonan means to me and what all truly goes into each staff position without rambling on and on, so while I will try to be succinct, it is hard to say goodbye to something which has done this much for me. Although the past four years I have worked for The Winonan have never failed to be a whirlwind of back-and-forth emotions between hair-pulling frustration and tear-inducing laughter and joy, it has saved me in so many ways, on so many occasions.

I came to Winona State University in the final weeks of Wisconsin summertime in 2018 with none of my childhood friends at my side, no family members living in Winona to run to, and no Green Bay Packers (thankfully, there is a Culver’s in Winona. Whew). It is entirely accurate to say I had zero idea I would be in the position I am now, writing this farewell for Winona State’s only student-led newspaper, as editor-in-chief. Even after eight semesters, more than 100 staff budget meetings and countless hours spent at Monday editing nights, I am not sure I am truly ready for this chapter of my life to end. That being said, I leave my time working at The Winonan in incredibly motivated and capable hands, which fills me with pride.

Mo, oh, Mo. You are easily one of the most interesting people I will ever meet, and you have never failed to bring laughter into The Winonan office and meetings. As we both prepared to graduate this spring and hand off our positions to others, you have been a continued rock for me, letting me lean on you and bug you for advice or help whenever I needed it. I don’t know if I can say ‘thank you’ enough, but, thank you. I do not know what I have done to earn your friendship, but I will always cherish it. You are made to do amazing things, and wherever you choose to go after college, you will excel and continue to be your peers’ favorite person.

Syerah, you have absolutely blown me away as I have had the pleasure to work alongside you and see you truly grow into your roles on The Winonan. You have completely made the Sports Editor position your own with total flair and are incredibly smart and capable, bringing so much to the table no matter where said table is. At The Winonan, you make me feel such proudness whenever you talk about a new story idea or about the engagement Sports has gained since you took up an editor position–we are so lucky to have you. I am genuinely so excited to see where you take your position on the newspaper next school year, and even more excited for your post-graduation career and life, and I hope you are too. You have earned it.

Sophie, I don’t know where to begin. As per usual, you leave me without words, which is otherwise a rare thing to do. You are relentlessly yourself in everything you do, and your passion and genuineness in working for The Winonan reinspired me when I needed it the most this school year. More than that, your friendship has been something I also needed, more than I can say, this school year. Thank you for never being upset when I am too overwhelmed to text you back quickly. Thank you for letting me bounce ideas and thoughts off of you with zero judgement. Thank you for letting me be completely myself and matching my energy, always. You are wholly yourself, and that will not be for everyone; If I know you, and I definitely do after all of our laughing-to-crying bouts and gab sessions in my car, I know you will never lose that fire that makes you, you. Continue to inspire, continue to learn, and never stop.

Gabriel, watching you begin your editor-in-chief duties already has made me feel so fulfilled and proud, and you have just begun. Your writing and storytelling have been incredibly well crafted with obvious care since you first started at The Winonan and getting to know you while laughing through every Monday editing night has been a great highlight of my final year at Winona State. To know someone who is so naturally kind, a good person right down to the bone, is surprisingly rare, and is something I love that you have brought to both The Winonan and to my life. It is a large reason behind my assuredness you will succeed and excel as editor-in-chief. A quick learner and a steadfast team member no matter what is going on, I know you’ve got this. I know you’ve got the staff’s back, and that was one of the most important things to me when thinking about who could handle the position. You rolled with the punches as a reporter, as copy editor, especially so as features editor, and will continue to excel in the fall and further. I just know it.

To the rest of the staff… oh, man. Just thank you, thank you, thank you, one hundred times over, for sticking with me and The Winonan. College is never easy, but during a worldwide pandemic, it was hard enough to achieve the minimum schoolwork week to week. For so many of you to begin your Winonan career during such a time, and continue to learn and even thrive, has been humbling to witness. I know I am nowhere near a perfect leader, but I tried my very best to be someone you each felt you could trust to have your back no matter what, and so you felt you were heard and important. I never heard that enough when I first started college, so I’ll say it again: you are important. The work you do is important. And, you’ve got this.

To one of The Winonan’s advisors, Tracy Rahim, you are so much more than an advisor. I truly would not have been able to handle any part of these past three semesters without you. On a professional and personal level, you inspire me in all ways. Your being a safe space for me has been an indescribable relief, and something I had not found in a faculty member at Winona State before. I know you are that person to many other students at Winona State too, yet you have never failed to support myself and The Winonan. I don’t know how you do all you do, but you are such an incredible example for those at Winona State, student or not. You pull off more in one month than some can in an entire year in their jobs, and you do it with admirable poise. Plus, you have helped keep me sane in so many ways, which is no small feat and something I will never be able to repay you for. Thank you.

To Doug Westerman, who has stepped into an advisor role for The Winonan this year, I am so thankful for your expertise and sharp humor. A breath of fresh air from a student perspective especially, you are just about everyone’s favorite professor/faculty member, and your guidance moving forward is going to do wonders for the student newspaper’s future. You already know how awesome you are, but if you haven’t heard it yet today: you are so freakin’ awesome.

To the editorial team who came before me, thank you for absolutely everything. To Morgan and Ren, if either of you see this, I pretty much bared my soul to you both in my letters to you before you graduated. I meant every word then, and even more so now if that is possible. I was finally able to come out of my shell on the newspaper thanks to you two, and that’s just the surface of your impact on me. Morgan, you were the best mentor I could have had, and I hope I made you proud. I am where you were not so long ago, and I finally get it, I think. It really is hard to say goodbye.

I will never feel completely ready, and I have never been one to display my emotions well, but if I have to say goodbye, I am capable only because of my time with this incredible group. I would not be who I am without The Winonan and each person I met because of my time as a student journalist, and for the first time in my life, I feel like I know who I am. The Winonan’s mission is to inform and empower, and it has done just that for me just through the work. Selfishly, I will miss our rag-tag group of iconic individuals who care so much about the Winona State community, because I was able to make mistakes and get right back up again and achieve so much because of it. Nothing could replace this, and nothing ever will.