HALEY POTTER: SENIOR SEND-OFFFinals week is officially here, which means it's time to start saying goodbye to some of…
Haley has been a contributor to The Rocket for the entirety of her SRU career. She was most recently named a Distinguished Leader in the Rising Star Awards sponsored by Student Engagement and Leadership.
After four years and over 70 news articles, my time at The Rocket is coming to an end. It is crazy to think that this will be the last thing I write for my college newspaper. I am a very sentimental and traditional person who always dreads lasts. I hated listening to people countdown to graduation, dreaded walking out of Eisenberg Classroom building or Maltby TV Studios for the last time, and dreaded sitting down with my last interviewee for my final Rocket article or WSRU-TV News package. I dreaded walking across the stage at graduation and giving one final hug to my roommates before slamming the trunk and leaving my apartment for the last time. The world took a turn, and now instead of dreading these things, I am remembering the last time I did each of these things without even knowing it was my last time. The last time I sat in The Rocket office for a meeting or showed up in Dr. Fleming’s office in a panic because I needed advice. It was all gone in the blink of an eye and now I am left with just memories.
The Rocket just so happens to be one of my fondest memories of college. When people think of me on campus, they associate me more with being an anchor and reporter for WSRU-TV. I have actually done just about the same number of stories for The Rocket and have developed into a better journalist because of The Rocket. During the Clubs and Organizations’ fair in the Fall of my Freshman year, my new found major bff, Adam Zook, and I were those very stereotypical freshmen who had to run to sign up to write for the paper and be the first ones to put our names on the sheet, as if it was going to run out of space or something. We were eager to do something amazing for the Communication Department and for ourselves. From that point on, Adam and I decided we were going to take on the journalism major together and by the time we were seniors we were going to try to converge WSRU-TV and The Rocket together as much as possible so that we could work closely together and make a difference.
We toured a convergence center at Point Park by our Sophomore year and learned so much from Dr. Fleming about convergence. We had it all planned out. Sadly, Adam is no longer with us, but the legacy that we wished to make during our first week of freshman year is living on. Now, The Rocket and WSRU-TV work so well together and truly are one big Rock media family.
When we started writing for The Rocket in 2016, the TV station and newspaper did not have a great relationship…at all. I stuck it out for the first two years in an environment where I didn’t really feel like I could be myself, and I am so glad that I did because now The Rocket has been like a family to me and The Rocket office is like a little home of itself tucked away inside ECB. I have written stories ranging from hard news to soft news, some sports stories for my sports journalism class special edition, and an opinion piece on what it means to be homecoming royalty. Each story allowed me to go out and do what I love by getting to meet new people on our campus and in our community.
The beauty of journalism is that you get to use your voice and your writing abilities to be able to tell other peoples’ stories to the world. Writing for a newspaper is having a platform to not only get news out there but to tell important stories and perhaps change someone’s life. My favorite story that I wrote for The Rocket was an enterprise story about the anxiety epidemic on college campuses. I knew that this was an issue for many students, and I have known so many friends who have suffered from anxiety and depression. I worked hard and got plenty of sources, did endless research, and had extensive interviews with the health center. That story won first place in the enterprise category for the 2020 student Keystone Press Awards. Winning was an amazing feeling, but to me it was not about the recognition, but instead about the actual article and the fact that I know it may have touched other’s lives. That is the moment that the power of journalism truly became evident to me.
My advice for future journalists, regardless of platform, is to use your voice. Stand up for what you know is right and use your talent to make other people’s voices be heard and stories be told. Four years and 70 stories later, this is what I have learned. We all need to remember that it is not always easy and sometimes life throws us curveballs, but when we are truly passionate about something, we need to make it happen. I am sad that my time in the Rocket is officially ending, just like this goodbye column is. The past two years spent as a Senior Writer and past 4 years as a reporter for The Rocket have been unforgettable.
No matter where life takes me, SRU will always hold a huge place in my heart. I grew a lot here and met people who have changed my life. Thank you, Rocket, for giving me a place at SRU and allowing me to grow as a person and journalist, all while meeting so many amazing people. Goodbye, SRU. Thank you for letting me tell your stories, meet your people, and call you my home away from home for the past 4 years. You changed my life and I will love you forever.