Saying goodbye to The Rocket and all the people who have made it the incredible, exemplary student organization it has become is harder than I thought it would be.
Friends have been recommending that I sit down and write whatever comes from the heart, but most of what comes from the heart says that I’m not ready to leave just yet.
As much as I’m ready to graduate and not step into another management position for many years, The Rocket has done more for my development as a journalist and as a problem-solver than any class or professor ever could–at no fault of their own.
Maybe I’m feeling some of the doubt previous news editor Joe Wells expressed in his staff goodbye. Maybe the negative connotation surrounding news media and the awful career outlook every journalist on the journalism subreddit never shuts up about have gotten to me.
But I’m not like a lot of these other journalists; not yet, at least. I still have passion, a love for the grind, and the generational backing to not stay at a job with zero quality of life or advancement opportunity. If I’ve learned anything during my college career, it’s to trust myself to manifest greener grass on the other side.
They say that college is where you truly discover yourself, and that could not have been more true for me.
During my freshman year at IUP, I joined the marching band, joined one fraternity and almost joined a second fraternity. Two of these things sound wildly out of character for me, but I always thought I’d go to college for the experience more than the education.
I was satisfied with my mediocre grades and effort in high school. That wasn’t good enough for me (my parents) in college. Anyway, this isn’t the place to explain my entire college experience, and I’m sick of reflection. I want to think about where I’m going.
The “goodbye” part
As I’m sitting here writing, part of me wants to hit backspace on everything I’ve written. How fun would it be to Irish goodbye The Rocket when every graduated staff member before me has written a staff goodbye?
In previous staff goodbyes, editors have addressed the people and experiences that have been most significant for them. For me, every person has been significant. Every challenge has been transformative.
I cannot possibly pick the most influential people or experiences, whether it is because all of them are significant or because I have blocked out every stressor for my own sanity.
I’m just glad I can feel like I’m leaving this organization at the strongest it has been since before the pandemic.
Sarah, I cannot believe how much of a different person you are compared to when we met after you came back to The Rocket staff. It has been so much fun bouncing ideas off each other and outlining the next chapter of The Rocket, and you are going to be great as the next editor-in-chief.
Whether you see yourself as one or not, members of The Rocket see you as a leader. Thank you for all the rides home, all the times you pointed out how I do not recognize my own talents, and all the times we shared the pen.
I trust the direction we are going in, and you are going to make the previous two editor-in-chiefs proud. I’m sorry we’re just starting to hang out as I’m about to graduate, but we still have one more investigation to tackle.
James, I’m going to lay out all the sentiment I feel right here because you would never let me say it to your face. You are both one of the most generous and funniest people in The Rocket office and one of the people who pisses me off the most.
I have very much enjoyed laying out a path for the news section to continue after we are both gone, and I have gotten many compliments on the borough coverage you have made a pillar of the section. Thank you for allowing me to work with you so closely on the news section since that is where I came from and where I want to go in my career.
Your motivation is truly impressive even though it can be for the most ridiculous reasons. “Spite is Right” needs to go on your headstone. Thank you for all the collaboration, all the times you bought me lunch and the times you challenged me to stick to my guns as a leader.
Aidan, nobody could have come in and taken over for Tyler as sports editor like you did. No matter how much work you have piled up, you get it done every time and are ready to tackle more, and I don’t know how you do it.
You are one of the most reliable people on The Rocket staff in my opinion, and I can’t wait to see where you go from here. Do me a favor and trust your instincts more because they are usually correct.
Thank you for broadening the sports section to give high school students the same opportunity to be in a newspaper as the university athletes, the poster above my desk in the office and for being the best person to talk sports in the office with.
Eddie, you have come so far as a professional photographer. You made last year’s CMA trip to D.C. incredibly fun, and I enjoyed going around the city and taking pictures with you. I loved it when I had the chance to teach you something new, like settings to stop light from that car’s tail lights going through an intersection.
You always have the most high-tech stuff like your drawing pad and that cool business card thing that takes people directly to your portfolio. I still want to get one of those.
You brought so much character and shenanigans to The Rocket staff when you first joined. I’m happy to see you embracing your leadership position and love for design on the design team, and to see you teaching other photographers. Thank you for your contagious excitement about photography and your willingness to go out and chase buses.
Annabelle, you are a far more talented writer than you give yourself credit for. You are an award-winning journalist, and you won that award because of your engaging storytelling and the effort you put into every step of the process.
Zac, you are the only person part of The Rocket this semester I consider to have more experience than me, and I very much enjoy the friendly competition. You have so much talent in so many different areas, and I can’t wait to see what is next for you whether it is with the Trib or elsewhere.
Alex, I cannot think of a better team to run the sports section than you and Aidan. I feel like you came into your role not really knowing what to expect, and the way you two have the same mind for sports is fun to see in the budget meetings. You’ve been a great addition to The Rocket, and it has been fun seeing your progression while editing your stories this semester.
Katie, I think you’re the coolest person ever. You are one of the people who makes The Rocket office feel like a safe space. The way you experience anxiety and emotion is a lot different from my male brain, and I am legitimately fascinated when you talk about it. You’ve also made it easier and more welcoming for me to talk about my anxiety because you and Sarah can put it into words I simply cannot. I hope you’re able to go back to Denver.
Sophia, I feel like almost every time we’re engaged in conversation, I look at you like a deer in headlights because we have such different life experiences and perspectives. I really appreciate the different perspectives you’ve given me on women’s and LGBTQ+ issues that I didn’t have a chance to learn about coming from my Christian, conservative upbringing.
You’ve often been the one in The Rocket to bring up these topics, and I hope you don’t underestimate the value that brings to an organization, especially in historically male-dominated communication fields.
Kayla, your bubbly personality brings so much life to us grumpy old people in The Rocket. Your initiative and work ethic are so impressive for your first semester of college, and I wish I could stick around to watch you grow into a confident journalist. Please do a backflip for me as my graduation present.
Katie, I think it’s funny we saw each other as I was walking home from class almost as much as we saw each other in the office this semester. Thank you for being so willing to take on extra work during print weeks, and you’ve also been a huge part of the design team in that way. I’ll definitely keep you in mind for wedding photography.
Dr. Fleming, I do not know what you saw in me the first time we met over Zoom when I transferred to SRU, or if you did not see anything and were simply recruiting for The Rocket, but I am extremely grateful that you encouraged me to join and push myself as news editor.
The Rocket offered me a place to develop my nose for news, my writing and my people skills, and it is one of the best parts of the Strategic Communication and Media department.
The staff doesn’t say it, but we know that you are our biggest advocate. I admire your ability to multitask, mediate and give tough love when it’s needed. Thank you for helping me to develop my leadership skills, and thank you for trusting and encouraging me to enact the creative changes for The Rocket’s mission, operation and sustainability.
I’ve thought about my ability and my preparedness for the job market all semester, and there’s one thing I’ve realized that has been a theme through my college career.
No matter how much I feel like I’m not living up to my own or other’s expectations, as long as I’m consistently challenging myself, my skills and ability will always be on the rise. It’s my confidence level that fluctuates.