As I sit in the Communication Arts Center (my second home of sorts) on the Sunday night before my last full week of college courses, many thoughts are rushing through my mind. Should I go to a convenience store and get a Mountain Dew? Will it downpour on my way back? And finally, what will I be doing a year from now? What will my life be like?
The answer? I have no idea. And that’s just the way I prefer it. I embrace the unexpected.
Instead of spending the weekend slaving away on my million and five papers and video projects, I spent it finishing up my last wellness credit through a backpacking course up at Treehaven.
I never would have expected I’d use the facility during my years here, but I certainly enjoyed the campus and woods in all its glory. I met people I never would have otherwise and escaped “real life” for a little while. I got to adventure on my own, much like I’ll be doing in a larger way very soon.
I came in as a freshman with a high school sweetheart and a vague idea that video journalism and anchoring might be a fun gig. I expected that in four years I would be married and land a job at a small station somewhere. After three years, I am leaving the university alone with a passion for print journalism and the Fourth Estate.
Journalism is an honorable field. Now, many might disagree, but I will never give up. I will shamelessly bartend or sell overpriced cosmetics door-to-door on the side for McChicken money, but my aspirations will remain.
I want to report the news and contribute to a well-informed, well-educated society. I don’t aspire for fame, and I don’t want to be a talking head. I believe my wishes are simple and attainable.
I definitely didn’t plan on graduating as a junior – mainly because I didn’t know it was possible. After packed semesters and summer and winter courses, I can honestly say it was worth the crazy schedule and gallons of caffeine. At 21, I’ll be debt-free and starting a new chapter with the job I hoped for in a place where I don’t know a soul.
That’s not to say I didn’t have a social life while I was here. I learned more about life and myself in these three years than in my childhood and adolescence combined. I sowed wild oats I didn’t even know I had and met some of the most amazing people, all while this school and city grew near and dear to my heart.
My life has been a series of unexpected happenings. As a freshman, I never would have imagined I would have the opportunity to cover Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget cuts to the University of Wisconsin System, an issue of great public interest. Not only is it a resume-booster, but it has truly prepared me for my desired career and affirmed what I want to do.
I fell into fumbling, awkward teenage love, then quickly realized I wasn’t quite ready for the commitment of a serious relationship. Consequently, I certainly wouldn’t have expected to host an SPTV talk show giving love and dating advice (which is oddly popular with random dads on YouTube).
On the same topic, I definitely wouldn’t have imagined that I’d go on an extravagant date with a complete stranger in Los Angeles. Talk about reckless.
More recently, I would have never expected that I was capable of staying up all night and then driving to Milwaukee in the wee hours of the morning for what turned out to be a truly life-changing trip and job interview. Yelling along with the radio to stay awake proved worth it when I landed a city reporter position at the Gillette News Record in Wyoming.
As an extroverted people person who mostly leans left politically, I’ll be moving to the least populous state that also happens to be very red, in search of my next adventure. Whether we’re talking about college, life, love or anything else, it’s all about embracing the unexpected. Heck, maybe I’ll even find a cowboy who knows what the Oxford comma is. You just never know.
Don’t squander your time at this university. If there’s something you want to do, by golly, go do it. The majority of people probably would not expect a bubbly, sometimes ditzy-sounding girl to have great interest in covering government and politics, but lo and behold, here I am.
My involvement in student media is something that happened naturally. I would even say most of it fell directly into my lap.
I started out anchoring at SPTV, then stepped into a staff position as business director, keeper of the coin, working with the Student Government Association and managing the station’s budget – not what I aspire to do with my life, but a great experience.
Seemingly by chance, I happened upon my first meeting at The Pointer. Little did I know, the paper would confirm my desired career path and motivate me in ways I never could have imagined. I started out as a reporter covering campus and community news, and fell into the news editor position the following year. Then I acquired the environment section, again seemingly by pure chance.
It has truly been an honor to be involved with student media, and I take the responsibility very seriously. I know that those we pass the torch to will continue to serve the student body through reporting and investigating.
It’s borderline ridiculous how things have wonderfully fallen into place during my time here. On top of my student media responsibilities, a great internship at The Portage County Gazette transpired out of the blue this semester. I started worrying that I wouldn’t be able to fit in an internship before my early graduation, but this one was just the ticket. I further refined my skills and learned from great, supportive mentors who I couldn’t be more thankful for.
Responsibilities are fantastic, but at the same time, don’t squander these years in terms of reckless shenanigans. What will you remember more 50 years from now? Fretting over a D2L quiz or running wild through the streets in the rain with your best friends? Take the chance while you have it.
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and just go for it. Life is short and college is shorter, especially if you jam everything in as I did. It’s simply too short to be unhappy. Live for the moment and reach as far as your little heart desires.
Don’t fret over what other people think of you. It’s not worth your time and will only make you miserable in the end. If you’re not someone’s cup of tea, then too bad for them. Be your own shot of whiskey. One of life’s greatest accomplishments should be self-acceptance and being unapologetically you.
Sure, your impression matters to employers, but the right one will look past initial awkward nervousness and see your passion and drive for what you do.
To wrap up this rambling, sometimes cheesy reflection, I’d just like to say thanks to everyone who has helped me along or offered support in any way – family, friends, professors, co-workers, friendly cashiers and plenty of other strangers along the way. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
As for you Pointers who will remain here or have yet to arrive, good luck and Godspeed. Go forth and blaze the trail less traveled by.
News & Environment Editor