All good things…

Published by James Cressman, Date: May 2, 2024
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When I was in the ninth grade, I had a teacher who on the first day told us, “Don’t screw around, because the next four years are going to pass by faster than you think.”

I distinctly remember rolling my eyes at the comment, and now here I am nearly twenty years later, and I can with certainty tell you, he was not kidding.

I have found myself thinking about little moments like that a lot lately, asking myself how I let the years get away from me. I will be 34 in just over a month.

When I decided to return to college at the age of 30, I had very mixed emotions. On the one hand, I felt an urgency to finish my degree, and with the pandemic bringing the world to a standstill, I had finally found my drive to do so. On the other hand, there was more than a decade between my peers and me.

I realized I was on the wrong end of a generational gap and to top it off, many of the professors on campus were within a five-year-range of my own age. Once again, I was brought back to the happy land of “what if?”

After being back in school for a year, however, I began to realize something, something incredibly important: everything happens for a reason.

Yes, I could have done things differently after graduating high school in 2008. I could have chosen to knuckle down and fulfill my original college plan, but at what cost?

I would have never worked at my first job at the movie theater where I met some especially important people in my life, I would have never met my fiancé, Kendal and I would never have come to Slippery Rock.

That is not to say there are not things within the intermediate time that I would love to change or wish I could go back and do differently, but maybe I needed to experience those things.

In “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier,” Spock’s half-brother Sybok offers to help Kirk and company by relieving them of their emotional pain by confronting and sharing it. Kirk refuses, telling Sybok, “I don’t want my pain taken away! I need my pain!”

Kirk believed that his experiences, including his pain, were essential parts in shaping him into the person he was and his ability to lead. This has always brought me comfort, because for me, after seeing this film for the first time, it meant there was a reason for things that seem unbearable.

Things happen for a reason; I was meant to find my way to Slippery Rock University. I was meant to build the relationships I have with some of the most amazing people. I was meant to experience the trials and tribulations to get to this point.

SRU to me is a place that oddly feels as if it was always home, and now that I am eight days away from graduating, I consider myself lucky to have been given the opportunity to be here.

During my time here, I am proud to have served as the president for both Lambda Pi Eta and WSRU-TV as well as the student life editor and news editor for The Rocket.

I also owe a shoutout to Coffaro’s for getting me through a lot of stressful times with its delicious pizza.

Of course, everyone knows that one of the major things that make a place home are the people, and to those people I wanted to share some “final” thoughts.

Kendal

A woman who deserves all the awards and accolades for having put up with me for the past ten years. Thank you for being understanding for all the times I found myself on campus until 9, 10 or 11 p.m.

We spent a lot of time working on opposite shifts between work and my classes and I know it was not always easy, so I thank you for working through that with me. Your unwavering support during this journey helped me to make it through.

As one of my favorite people once said, you have quite simply been my strength and stay throughout our time together.

Dr. Brittany Fleming

There is so much I need to say, and, in all fairness, this entire goodbye could easily have been one giant thank you to you.

Not until taking TV Studio Production did I find myself here at SRU. You helped me realize what I wanted to do with my life and forced me out of my comfort zone to realize my own potential.

You do not let people drown themselves in self-pity or doubt. You inspire us to work harder, smarter and to accept the mistakes and learn from them. You are and will always be considered by me and so many others as a golden standard for university professors.

Thank you for introducing me to WSRU-TV. I am proud of the work we all accomplished in bringing so many great productions to life.

I will always be eternally grateful for everything you have done for me, and I hope you know you have had a profound impact on my life.

I cannot wait to finish our documentary and debut it on Netflix! I would say I will miss you, but unfortunately, you are not getting rid of me that easily. I am excited to start working at Memory Lane Media.

Hannah

I do not think you understand the impact you have on the students of this department. You wear so many different hats, staff, counselor, mother and advocate. You constantly go out of your way to help us, talk to us when we are down and encourage us to be the best we can. I hope you know just how much you are appreciated by the students.

This department would not be this department without you, and I will miss seeing you daily. Worry not, because I will be calling you up any time I read about Disney updates!

The Rocket staff

If someone had told me a year ago that I would be joining The Rocket, I would not have believed it. Yet somehow, I found myself right there in the fall of 2023.

Getting to work with all of you has been an absolute pleasure. Through collaborations with WSRU-TV in the past, I had the opportunity to work with some of you more than others, and I have come to wish we had more time.

Hayden- You are going to make a great news editor for this paper. You are dedicated, hardworking and take your role as a gatekeeper of knowledge seriously. I am really glad you joined the staff in my section.

Teiko- I truly hope you take a moment to relax after graduation. You are constantly on the run from one project to the next. You are such a talented editor and I know I am going to see your name attached to big projects in the future.

Aidan- You are one of the nicest people I have ever met. You are always checking in to see how people are doing and it is always in a way that shows you genuinely care. When the time comes, you are going to do an excellent job when you step into the position of EIC in the future. Your passion for sports is evident in your writing, and I can easily see you hosting a sports show on ESPN in the future.

Alex- I wish we had more classes together because I have had a fun time getting to know you. You are one of the funniest people on The Rocket! I know you will do great things and look forward to watching your accomplishments.

Annabelle- You are such a great writer and your leadership in both news and student life has helped to drive those sections toward success. You are someone who has gotten involved with so much and has made it look so easy.

Nana (Kayla)- I am not sure I have ever heard anyone say the word ‘sorry’ so many times in one conversation. I know sometimes you are super critical of yourself (like all of us) and doubt your abilities, but I want you to know that you have been an awesome assistant student life editor. You are more talented than you think and one of the nicest people on staff.

Sophia- This is like the part in the “Wizard of Oz” where Dorothy tells the Scarecrow she is going to miss him most of all.

It will come as no shock to anyone on staff that you are my favorite person in The Rocket. You are what I would describe as the “silent killer.” You come across as quiet and shy, but you are a strong leader, a great writer and the perfect person to take over The Rocket in the fall. I am going to miss our tea times and wish we had more of them. Do not hesitate to keep in touch, and remember that you are always welcome to our home for the holidays (or anytime).

Cassie- I really enjoyed getting to know you this semester, and I am happy to know that you found your love for journalism through working on staff. You are going to go on to do great things, you have such a positive outlook on life and we were so lucky that you joined the staff.

Edward- What up G? Do you understand that you are the Rocket’s secret weapon? You are always ready to have a good time and a laugh while being laser focused on whatever task is at hand. I cannot think of a single time you came into the office with a negative attitude; you are always ready to just get stuff done.

Edward, you are a phenomenal photographer, graphic designer and quite arguably a strong staff leader.

Katie D- I have thoroughly enjoyed sparring with you all year; it was fun to give you such a hard time. You might be the hardest working of all of us, especially with your million-dollar side hustle photography business you are running. You are an incredibly talented person, and I know you are going places.

Katie S- With everything you are involved in, I do not know when you find time to sleep. President of two organizations and the advertisement manager for The Rocket, you have given so much of yourself to these organizations. Do not ever worry about where you will end up or what job you will have, because you have worked so hard during your four years here at SRU. I am happy to call you my friend and have enjoyed getting to know you and laugh with you over the past year.

Sarah- I was unsure in the fall how the spring semester would play out, but you hit the ground running before the semester even started. You contributed to the restructuring of the paper and continued to rebuild relationships both within the office and within the community.

You are incredibly hard on yourself, so allow me to tell you, you did well. After spending four years on staff, you stepped into the role of EIC with foresight of what worked and did not from three previous leaders. You should be proud of your time at the helm of the paper.

As you enter this next chapter, do not be afraid to take chances and step outside of your comfort zone. Important things are on the horizon!

You were a great number one!

Closing the chapter

Now, all good things must come to an end. Leaving The Rocket is a bittersweet moment. I am proud to be graduating with so many of my peers, and yet I am sad that I will not be walking into The Rocket office next semester to people I consider my friends.

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James is a senior Strategic Communication and Media major with concentrations in digital media production and multimedia journalism. He also minors in film & media studies. James serves as the News Editor at The Rocket and President of Lambda Pi Eta: the National Communication Association’s Honor Society. James is a movie enthusiast, a “Star Wars” fanatic and a fan of all things comedy. James previously served as the President of WSRU-TV (2022-2024).

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