Opinion — The North Wind shaped my collegiate experience

Editor-in-Chief Kata Rothhorn reflects on her time at the North Wind at the end of her final semester.
AT WORK — My desk set-up in the North Wind office at 301 Gries Hall. I have worked at and decorated my desk area for the past year and a half.
AT WORK — My desk set-up in the North Wind office at 301 Gries Hall. I have worked at and decorated my desk area for the past year and a half.
Molly Birch

If I could go back, I would do it all again. 

I would send that email to the editor-in-chief of the North Wind at the time, Justin Van’t Hof, and ask about volunteering for the student newspaper. Despite it being the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic and having to attend everything online, I would still Zoom into every meeting and attempt to build my first collegiate friendships through a screen and a shared love of journalism. 

I cannot overstate how much the North Wind shaped my college experience. 

Especially after being hired as a copy editor and becoming the only freshman on staff during my first semester, I became a part of a community that helped me learn more about what it meant to be a part of a team full of people who cared. I made close friends and loved being on staff so much that I jumped at the chance to become the features editor during my sophomore year. Now after three and a half years of being a part of the North Wind staff, and having had the opportunity to lead the North Wind as Editor-in-Chief (EIC) for over a year, I have made the decision to step down from my position.

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As I approach my final week of being an official member of the North Wind Newspaper, I have become prone to reflecting on my experiences and wanted to share how impactful the North Wind has been for me. 

One of the most important aspects of the North Wind for me is the fact that we are completely student led and run. Students make the decisions about how to operate, what events and issues should be covered, and nearly every other decision about how the North Wind shows up in the campus community. This organization creates such an awesome space for learning, experimenting and gaining invaluable experiences. 

This also means that everyone on staff has a considerable amount of autonomy that I believe is rare in other on-campus positions. As EIC, I was in charge of scheduling and leading weekly meetings, helping train staff members, brainstorming and implementing changes for the North Wind, managing the other staff members, and so many other tasks. Ultimately, I was in charge of my own schedule and how much effort I wanted to put into my job which was fantastic but occasionally detrimental to my own time management since I always wanted to dedicate my time to the North Wind. 

EIC DESK — My decorations around my desk that I have accumulated over the years as EIC. I have hung up awards from different semesters, letters from people I have interviewed and the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics. (Katarina Rothhorn)

I learned so much about my own leadership style, strengths and weaknesses. I also learned that leadership is so much more fun and valuable when done in a team. I would not have been able to lead the North Wind in the same way if not for the constant conversations with other staff members, informal and formal feedback from staff editors and weekly conversations with our journalistic advisor, Nyan Lynn. In particular, Molly Birch, Andie Balenger, Ryley Wilcox and Sal Wiertella have been irreplaceable and I appreciate you all so much. 

As my leadership skills developed, so did my journalism, writing and editing skills. Some of my proudest collegiate work has come from over the 130 articles I have written in the past three and a half years. Especially articles about the Black Lives Matter (BLM) Protest, AAUP protests, the BLM flag in the criminal justice department, saving the blue-spotted salamanders at Presque Isle park, and the non-gendered sorority at NMU come to mind.

I will also always carry with me the fond memories of being on staff with other amazing students. My first hike in Marquette was with other North Wind staff members during my first few weeks of being at NMU. We have also attended hockey games together, participated in Make A Difference Day, and have an awards celebration at the end of every semester. Podcast night during my sophomore year will always stand out in my mind, when we would gather in the North Wind office to record and re-record audios from that week’s top articles. Podcast night would inevitably morph into “North Wind Therapy Sessions,” as conversation turned personal and chaotic, and started to turn coworkers into friends. 

I have had so many amazing experiences within the North Wind, and am so grateful for the people and opportunities I have encountered. As I step down from my role as EIC and create space for the next era of North Wind journalism and leadership, I thank the North Wind from all the edges of my being for helping me become the person I am today.

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