Graduating Copy/Web Editor Lesa Bressanelli (left) during her first budget meeting with The Rocket in August 2019.

When you’re on your way to college, you’re prepared by your parents, friends, teachers, neighbors, co-workers, your grandparents’ friends, your dog and that one guy down the street on what you should do, what you can expect, and what you should look forward to. To me, everything seemed like a brand new start and a chance to change or reinvent yourself for the better. 

Fortunately (or unfortunately) for myself, everything was kind of a new start and a chance to kind of reinvent myself twice. 

Arriving at Slippery Rock in the Fall of 2016, I thought I had my four years figured out. I found two organizations (neither The Rocket) where I envisioned myself for the next four years and I also laid out my EXACT course schedule for the next four years to take to make sure I accomplished everything I desired academically. I really liked knowing where I was going, when and what to expect. 

Though when I needed to take a semester off of school in order to compensate for my finances (and I wasn’t sure at the time that it would only be one semester), the game changed. The SparkNotes version of that time was that it was a time of isolation and loneliness. While I am so fortunate to have only required one semester away from school, in such a short amount of time I felt that I truly lost myself and that I became disconnected. My life became consumed by work trying to distract myself from feelings of being left behind, unneeded and forgotten.

Upon returning to campus, I was determined to get what I thought was my life back, to pick up exactly where I left off because that is where I was supposed to be and who I was supposed to be. I was supposed to be accomplishing all of these things already and I was already so behind, so I was determined. To say I was very disappointed and a little surprised when the sweetness of my old routine and doing the things I once loved now tasted like a spoonful of ash is a bit of an understatement, and I felt so lost and confused. 

After coming to terms with not being able to resuscitate my old life, it was time to pursue a new start and to reinvent myself a bit in order to really figure out what would, in the words of Marie Condo, spark joy.

That is where I find out about open applications for The Rocket.  

While I will spoil that this wasn’t the single way in which I recovered my life, The Rocket would certainly play a huge role. 

In applying, I questioned myself every step of the way: Are you sure you’re even a good fit to apply? Are you sure they’re not just going to make fun of you after the interview? And finally, do you think you can really do the job? I remember almost emailing back on the offer to say I wasn’t interested anymore, but I have never been so grateful to a friend that convinced me to think otherwise and accept. 

My time at The Rocket has been two years of budget meetings, correcting grammatical errors, assisting staff members in navigating WordPress, answering AP-style questions, and figuring out the best captions and schedules for social media… But it’s also been toasts at The Brewery and Primanti’s, snowball fights outside of ECB, Rocky’s runs, team-building through ropes courses, and convincing people I’m not an imposter during game nights.

To that end, while being a part of The Rocket has offered me a breadth of professional opportunity that has taken me far already, it pales in comparison to the experience of getting to meet and know the people that make The Rocket what it is, and what it will continue to be.

To Ryanne, to say I am so excited for you is an understatement. While you are only a freshman and in your first semester with The Rocket, I admire your thoughtfulness and tenacity; I see a leader who will take good care of the Copy/Web section once I finally let go of the keys, or should I say passwords.

To Sarah and Morgan, since stepping into your roles, you have transformed Campus Life into a very beautiful thing (building off of former Campus Life Editor Hope’s work, of course) with the energy and care that you bring to each one of your pieces. Even after graduation, and given the fair amount of time you two still have, I can’t wait to see the ways in which Campus Life further evolves under your leadership.

To Brendan and Tyler, our Howe Brothers, the lengths that you two have gone to push out quality sports pieces since I met you both in the Fall of 2019 is admirable. With Brendan graduating, I am confident you will blaze your way through the world of sports journalism given your confidence and stubbornness which has made you successful here. With Tyler, you’ll continue to represent some of the best that the Sports section has to offer.

To Hannah Slope and Rayni, your work always leaves me in awe with how impeccable it is, whether it be graphic design or photography; you two are so very talented and your creativity will continue to be a huge asset to The Rocket, and I’m so excited for you two and what content you’ll be able to produce once campus is a bit more open.

To Elizabeth and Brook, I’m thoroughly impressed by the way you two really took the ads section by the horns and how you’ve hustled to make it into what it is now. Best of luck to you, Elizabeth, with your internship, they’re so lucky to have you with all you have to offer, and Brook, you are going to be a stellar leader with what you have to offer and take ads even further.

To Joe, you bring a lot to the table for News between your combination of humor and cynicism and your drive to deliver the news. I’m going to miss reading and hearing all your Discord and Budget Meeting commentary, but look forward to seeing what you will bring to the News Section as you ascend in power.

To Aaron, Nina might have stolen EIC from you after two years of working for it, but you learned a lot in boating school and after the great work you’ve put in for The Rocket (and your internship), you’re going to do great things in the realm of sports journalism after you cross the stage in just some days.

To Nina, look at you now!!! I remember when you interviewed for The Rocket, and now you’re the freakin’ EIC. You have come so very far, but it is literally only the beginning and I can’t wait to see your name in the New York Times someday (probably soonish), and I’ll hold you to that whether you agree or not.

To Hannah, you are such a dear friend and having worked with you on both The Rocket and Sigma Tau Delta has been some of the best experiences in my own college career. You are such a compassionate leader through and through, and any school district would be lucky to have you on staff. If anyone could change the world, especially through the classroom, I’d place all my bets on you.

To Dr. Fleming, while I never did get the chance to see you in the classroom, you have served as such an inspirational mentor over these past two years. As I head off to grad school as a teaching assistant, you represent a lot of what I want to aspire to be as a teacher, but also beyond as a working professional. Thank you for all you have done for me, whether you realized it or not.

And lastly, to our very new staff, while this may sound a little exaggerated, you have definitely made one of the best decisions of your college career, from both a professional and social standpoint. While The Rocket will serve as talking points during interviews for internships or jobs, it will also be a place to look back on fond memories. Make the most of your time.

As I wrap things up, and as a final takeaway, what I think I’ve learned after five years is that maybe when you stop looking so hard, that’s when you’ll find the place you’re meant to be, the people you’re meant to be with, and what you’re meant to do. 

To The Rocket as a whole: Thank you for finding me. I no longer feel so lost. I feel at home, and no matter where I go, this home will always have a special place in my heart.

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Lesa is a senior English major specializing in professional writing with minors in environmental communication and geology entering her second year on The Rocket Staff as the Copy/Web Editor. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a career in health and science communications. Outside of The Rocket, she is involved with Sigma Tau Delta and the Sound and Literary Art Book (SLAB) and works for University Communication and Public Affairs.


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