It took me 1,825 days, seven attempts at an Eastern math class (with the eighth next fall), six majors, three male roommates, three female roommates (save me Jesus), two failed relationships and one Muffin to realize that I’m a writer.
I may not be the next Poe, but I have skills. And the best part of it all is that I taught myself. I wrote my first news story way back in high school. It was 150 words long. I obviously didn’t know what the hell I was doing. I remember that day when my friend Krystal Deyo, my sports editor, was doing all she could not to get pissed at me; after all, I was one of few who actually enjoyed writing sports. But that story was the start of something big, in classic Eastern style. It began my career, and I will forever owe two things in my life for my career: The Easterner and Brittany Bobbitt.
These two things have nothing in common. One is the paper you’re reading right now, the one that has employed me for the past two years. The other is one of the two failed relationships I have had in the past five years.
Brittany is the one who pushed me to go for my dream. She forced me to stop trying every possible major just to make money and instead do what I had always wanted to do with my life. Even though the situation didn’t work out between us, I still consider her one of my best friends. Her support led me directly to The Easterner where I began developing my career.
I still remember when James Eik, editor-in-chief and die-hard Mariners fan, thought my name was Colin. Six months later, I was his right-hand man.
I remember when I first met Nicole Erickson, I thought she was a bitch. I was right, but now we’re great friends.
Sara Jo Barrett was what I thought to be a young, naïve girl who felt out of place. But the day she offered me a muffin, a friendship blossomed, and I was introduced to the real Sara, one whom I’ll never forget.
It took Sophie Benson, who I practically forced to be my friend, to reintroduce me to something I was lacking for three years.
Michael Stephens threw a job at The Spokesman-Review right in my lap. Now I’ve been working there for more than a year, and I will be forever grateful to him for giving me the opportunity.
Not only have I met friends at the paper, but I have created relationships with those across campus and Spokane County. Dave Cook, Eastern’s sports information director, made my job about the easiest thing ever. It was him who ensured I could get an interview with Taiwan Jones at the last second and that I could get that last second story on Glen Dean’s decision to transfer. Next year, I’ll be working directly with him — crazy how life works.
I pride myself on the fact that it wasn’t the classes or professors that taught me how to become a journalist; it was the hard work and dedication shared between myself and my peers that enabled me take the next step.
To Jason Banks, Alina Shanin, Dylan Coil, Aaron Malmoe, Matt Davis, Brittany Waxman, Brian Beaudry, Lauren Johnson, Cass Thompson, Joe Schilter, Kristie Hsin, Kyle Harding, Steve Blewett, Bill Stimson, Bill Chaves, Cara Schlinger and many others I don’t have time to name, it was you who helped me become what I am today. And although I may not be able to tell you to your face, I can put in it writing. Thank you.
“The writer must write what he has to say, not speak it,” said Ernest Hemingway.
Eastern is an odd campus.
No, seriously, take a second look at this place. We’ve got buildings on historical registers, a red football field, the weirdest design for an arts complex I’ve ever seen, and a population of squirrels that, if organized, could put up a decent fight against us all.
But behind all of the bricks, turf and closed doors lies people: the people who make this place run smoothly and the people who make this university shine despite the increasing difficulty of making things operate correctly. They are the people who make this campus move.
Four years have come and gone, and I have seen much, though far from everything, that this university can offer. The lessons in the classroom have molded and shaped the abilities and skills related to my professional field, but the life lessons come from outside the classroom. They come, in most cases, from the average person.
The end to this four-year collegiate venture marks the end of 17 seemingly never-ending years of education. As such, it is absolutely necessary to mention some of the most important figures who spurred my incredible growth over the past four years. The following people have been magicians in their abilities.
Thank you, Bob Elfers, for keeping my eyes and heart focused on what truly matters in life. His words still and will always ring true.
Lane Hopkins, you helped me apply the learned value of hard work, coloring outside the lines and for being the best adviser in Eastern’s advising system.
Cheryl Grimm, you offered your help and mentoring. Without you, I never would have made it through the difficult moments at this newspaper. You are by far the best and most informed person on campus. No one will replace you.
Tammy Hovren, you were my first journalism teacher, original mentor and now good friend. You have taught me to remember who I am and what I represent.
Finally, my parents and family, you are a constant source of guidance and support throughout my life. Thank you.
And finally, thank you to the newspaper crew that I learned from and am still friends with today. This office wouldn’t be half of what it is without your dedication and drive. I hope that the newspaper has lived up to your standards.
Eastern, though small in size, has the potential to be a great asset in a student’s education. In my time here, I’ve learned that the effort and dedication you put into a project or into the workplace will eventually translate into something great. Take time to ensure that an action is right. Change shouldn’t be forced, nor a decision rushed. Often, a step away to look at the bigger picture gives a clearer answer.
The lessons learned at Eastern are not solely found in the classroom, but in the people. Take a look around — we’re all in this together.