After two years spent at The North Wind, my time has come to an end. Next weekend, I will clean out my desk, finish my finals, pack my U-Haul and venture back to the land of beer and cheese. However, many different members of faculty and staff have prepared me for life outside the U.P., and for that, I thank them.
Before my freshman year, the only person who read my writings was my mother reading my diary. Let’s just say she was less than a fan. Therefore, I came into my EN 211 class timid, scared and with no faith that I was any good. But my professor, Jim “Mac” McDevitt, brought me out of my shell and taught me that, with some help of course, I could actually write something people would want to read. Even now, when I see Mac in the academic mall, he remembers my stories and genuinely wonders how I’ve been. Thank you, Mac, for guiding me down this path.
Sophomore year I started my journalism education with Jim McCommons. Jim entertained the class with anecdotes about experiences with Better Homes and Gardens and his early days in the newsroom. He also taught me the art of the interview and that after each story I wrote, I would be an expert for a week on that topic. Thank you, Jim, for teaching me how to be an expert on the flu, zombies vs. humans, caffeine addictions and all other tribulations that Northern students face.
Junior year was a year of realization. It was when I was introduced to a different type of non-fiction writing: The essay. It was also the first time I saw the three most dreaded words on the top of a paper: “Please see me.” I sat down with Paul Lehmberg, shaking with nerves, wondering how horribly I could have screwed up accounts of my own life. However, Paul just wanted to let me know that sometimes there are memories and events we’ve experienced that don’t need to be taken lightly. Sometimes, it’s OK to let your words stop laughing and start crying. Thank you, Professor Lehmberg, for teaching me that “I can’t know what I think until I see what I say.”
Senior year I became a desk editor at The North Wind. It was also the year I was warned about Cate “Terwillibeast” Terwilliger, The North Wind advisor. I heard she had a sharp pen and strict ways. But, after a year shaking at my desk when she read my stories, I realized that in the end, her No. 1 priority was to see each and every one of us at this office succeed. She taught me how to edit, dig for stories and be a leader. Thank you, Cate, for making me a journalist.
So, in the end, there were tears and there were papers that I didn’t hang on my fridge. But, college is more than that. College is a place to learn, not to be graded. Students should talk to a professor who intimidates them at least once a semester. Let professors know that you, the student, are there to learn. Who knows, those professors could end up teaching you more than you ever thought they could.
When I was younger, I had my sights set on becoming a veterinarian. By the time I reached adolescence, I had a very impressive collection of stuffed animals, and spent most of my free time christening the creatures with names and showing them off to my friends. My pals, on the other hand, spent their time after school playing with baby dolls that realistically cried and peed on themselves. Needless to say, I wasn’t impressed.
Then, in eighth grade, I job shadowed a local veterinarian. But after the doctor flung a cat on the operating table and started cutting into its fleshy pink belly with a scalpel, I could barely resist the urge to dry heave all over the operating room floor. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn’t that. My lifelong dream had come to an end.
So I threw myself into writing, a subject on the opposite side of the blood and guts spectrum. When the time came to pick a major for college, I casually jotted down English writing on my application. While I didn’t have the patience to write a novel, I was convinced that journalism was the most stable way to make a decent living from writing. So what if I didn’t have any experience? Who cares if the only thing that interested me in the paper was which one of my friends was student of the week? I could learn.
But as a college freshman, I avoided The North Wind office like a disease. I was certain these journalism experts wouldn’t want to waste their time on an amateur like myself. But I finally realized that if I wanted to learn about journalism, I had to suck it up and fill out an application. So I did, and had to resist dry heaving all over again.
I wrote my first article without having a clue as to what I was doing. I was like a toddler trying her hand at finger-painting for the first time. And when I left the office that first day with my story dripping in pure red Bic-blood, I thought my short-lived career as a journalist was over. But within a couple weeks, I was offered a job as copy editor, and later, managing editor.
The time, energy and dozens of panic attacks that went into juggling a full course load and editor position was worth it, even if I had a near-impossible time realizing it. Also, I’m confident that all of those near-breakdowns will help me in the stress-filled pustule that is the real world.
In 10 days, I’ll sport my cap and gown and prepare to move to a city with a population of over 200,000. Out of those 200,000 people, I know about eight. But when I leave this office for the final time and move 300 miles away from Marquette, I’ll know that I always have a home at The North Wind, and will never forget the editorial staff that made my college career a lot more stressful, but a lot more enjoyable.