Four North Wind seniors say goodbye

NW Staff

Editor in Chief Kyle Whitney
When I look back on my college career I will measure my time at NMU with a unique barometer. I likely won’t have fond memories of a specific class I took years before. I certainly won’t remember any parties I attended in my free time. Rather than being gauged by such stereotypical moments, my years in Marquette will be remembered as a series of Wednesday nights.

Since working at The North Wind, I have spent the last three years of my life producing a newspaper every week. Aside from the numerous hours put in weekly, this process requires eight to 12 hours of work on production night – Wednesday. Over time, the job has proven to be stressful, enlightening and even enjoyable. And though it is intensely satisfying and rewarding work, I find that when I think about 2009, I am keenly aware of the fact that there have been, thus far, 16 Wednesdays.

Although I have received no college credits for these Wednesdays and they aren’t a part of the required school curriculum, they have come to mean more to me than all of the courses I have ever taken and all of the credits I have accumulated.

When I enrolled at NMU, I didn’t have a real academic direction. I was still in my first semester when I walked into The North Wind office; prior to that moment, I hadn’t taken a single journalism class and I had rarely read a newspaper. As I picked up more writing assignments, I read more papers on my own, hoping to at least mimic the style. Semesters flowed together, one thing led to another, and I became more interested in what I was a part of, falling in love with journalism. I’ve been here ever since, and aside from a new group of friends and a steady hobby, The North Wind has provided me with something rare: a laboratory scenario in which I could practice the skills that I was learning.

Of course, there was some outside help, as well. I owe any successes I’ve had to professors Cate Terwilliger and Jim McCommons – both accomplished journalists. Through them, I picked up the bare bones of AP Style, discovered how to write a lead and figured out how to best utilize, and when to fully disregard, the inverted pyramid. And when classes began to take a back seat to the newspaper, they were there to tell me that coursework came before the paper. But they both knew that wasn’t true, and they both accepted it.

For the vast majority of the time I spent on campus – in classrooms, offices, lecture halls and library cubicles, reading books and writing papers – the details will be entirely lost with time. For the most part, I will miss obscurities: discussion-based classes, one-on-one debate, professors who can somehow make the mundane seem interesting. After graduation, I will certainly miss these things, for they helped to shape the person that I am today.

But most of all, I will miss the Wednesday nights.

Sports Editor Carson LeMahieu

It seems like just yesterday that I walked into my empty dorm room on the third floor of Van Antwerp Hall. On Saturday, May 2, I will take the final steps of my college career as I walk across the graduation stage in the Superior Dome.
On that first day of college, my parents told me to enjoy it because would be the best four years of my life; they were wrong. It was actually the best five years.

But all kidding aside, I have learned a lot in my five years here at NMU. More important than the class work are the life lessons. For example, I learned that if you wait until the last minute to do a 12-page research paper, you end up spending an entire night struggling to crank out something you feel is passable.
I also learned, as with most students, my most cherished memories are not going to be memories of sitting in class or working on homework. Instead, they will be all the great times I’ve had with my friends, and all of the crazy things I’ve done.

By far my favorite memory has been my two years of working at The North Wind. When I started working here, the long Wednesday nights were a chore I dreaded. Over the last two years I have come to love Wednesday nights, as stressful as they may be, walking out of the North Wind office tonight it will be a bittersweet moment for me.

My advice for freshmen and sophomores is to enjoy every minute of your college experience. Even though a trip to Wal-Mart with your friends at 2 a.m. might seem trivial now, in the future, it might be one of your fondest memories.

I’d like to finish this column by giving some personal thanks to people who have been important in my life.

To my freshman year RA: You put up with a lot of my shenanigans; even more surprisingly, you took most of it in stride and never lost your cool. Any other RA would have smothered me.
To my professors: You’ve shared a lot of information with me and more often than not you have challenged me to achieve. I will make sure that I never forget the information I learned while I was in class.

To all my coworkers at The North Wind: Thank you for putting up with all my Youtube videos, stupid jokes and off-color comments. I hope that at least some of them entertained you.
To my fiancé: You kept me in line the last two years. I think that the only reason I’ve matured at all was because of you. I suppose I should thank you for that.

Lastly, to my parents: Thank you for all the money you have spent, the many hours talking long distance on the phone, and most of all the endless support you have given me over the years. You’ve invested a lot in me these past 23 years. I hope that I’ve turned into the person you always thought I could be.

Managing Editor Jackie Stark

With my two-year tenure at The North Wind coming to a close, I can look back and safely say that working for the newspaper has been the most uplifting and at the same time, the most defeating job I have ever had, or ever hope to.
The highs and lows have taken me from the verge of quitting after making a serious mistake on the front page to thoughts of hanging an article on my fridge like it was a fifth-grade math test with a big red ‘A’ on it.

The people I work with and the potential every week for writing something great are what have kept me around for over two years. Somehow, this newspaper manages to attract students who don’t mind spending their weeks worrying about a newspaper instead of doing the schoolwork they should be, and I will certainly miss those people.

I have also stuck around because writing a good article or column feels the same as hitting the sweet spot with your bat on a fastball pitch you never thought you’d get, the same as drinking wine with the closest friends you have while singing ‘Sweet Caroline’ at the top of your lungs, the same as letting the door to the classroom swing shut behind you after handing in a test you know you’ve aced. Every week, I tried to hit the sweet spot, and though I know I spent the majority of my weeks missing it, there were a couple of good ones every now and then.

And in my attempts to hit that sweet spot, I’ve learned a lot of things: humility, efficiency and how much caffeine I need to operate on a Thursday morning after about four hours of sleep. But most of all, I’ve learned how to appreciate language.

Each week, I have to choose words with care. I have to form sentences and paragraphs that will offer readers the information they need as succinctly as possible. I have to delve into the complex world that is English grammar and come out with articles that are informative and easy to read.

I have also learned to see the beauty of words, to see the splendor in a finely-crafted sentence, the magnificence in a seamless transition. Never again will I be able to read anything, whether it’s a news article or a novel, without noticing the words the author chose, or the way in which those words were employed, and I would never want to.

It’s been over two years since I conducted my first interview. Back then, I was a nervous wreck after finishing a story. I was terrified that my editor would think I was completely inept as a writer. Now, I write somewhere between one to three stories a week and I still have that feeling whenever someone else looks at my work. But the minute that feeling goes away is the minute I stop writing.

In a few short days, I will go from being a student to an alumnus, but I’ll never forget the lessons I learned at The North Wind or the people who taught me.

Assistant Sports Editor Gordon Beetle

My parents enrolled me in pre-school when I was three, and now 20 years later I am on the verge of never having to attend another class for possibly the rest of my life.

But because of my experiences at NMU and The North Wind, I have learned that even though my formal education is ending, that doesn’t mean I have to stop being a student.

I don’t care what line of work I end up in after school; I just hope that I continue learning. I know now I am a student at heart and I will always be one.

When I first came to Northern I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up, and frankly I still don’t know. I was undeclared as a freshman and I leave as a senior with a major in English and minor in journalism. I am uncertain of where I will be in month or a year, but I am okay with that.

Working at The North Wind has been the perfect place for me to be an expert on something for a week, write about it and then move on. Last week I learned how to throw a hammer for the track and field team, and this week I learned about the summer training for the nordic skiing.

Neither of these will probably ever help in “real world,” but being a good listener and knowing how to talk to people will.
Meeting new people and hearing their stories made my job tolerable. I am glad I have had the opportunity to work with so many great athletes, coaches and people in general.
In my three years of working at the paper, I’ve interviewed an Olympic Gold medalist, world renowned coaches in wrestling and boxing, several All-American college athletes, and I have ridden in van with “the finger man” Edward James Olmos or Admiral William Adama on “Battlestar Galactica.”

Interviewing people has been an added plus. And this experience is something that a music reviewer or columnist wouldn’t necessarily do week in and week out.

All of the people I have met while working at the paper have taught me something, so with my finals words I would like to say thank you to those people.

Thank you to everyone I have ever interviewed for being patient and taking questions from a shaky student journalist.

Thank you to every editor or professor who helped a college kid stumble through grammar and spelling mistakes every week so his story could improve.

Finally I would just like to thank The North Wind for letting me learn and continue to learn every week.

Education isn’t necessarily something that has to be taught in school. Even though it took me 20 years to learn this, I can only imagine what I will learn outside of school.