It feels like it was just yesterday when I walked into The Scout office for the first time. I started my first day on-staff in the same manner in which I start most things: quiet, shy and reserved. It took me a whole semester to finally warm up to The Scout office before I showed my true self.
I chuckle when I think about the stark contrast between that version of me and who I am now. The Scout staff practically begs me to stop blaring trap remixes on office computers, to stop talking about my Marvel movie theories or to stop making Vine references (you can take the Vine app off of my phone, but you can’t take the Vine references out of my soul). I owe so much gratitude to my Scout family for unconditionally loving me and allowing myself to be the quirky, loud and spirited individual that I am.
Last week, Scout staffers were looking at the first articles we wrote for the paper. Mine came during the first week of my sophomore year as an off-staff sports reporter. It was a small recap of a men’s and women’s golf tournament, and it barely covered a quarter of a page. By all means, it was nothing impressive, but to me, it was the first time I had something published. It was, and still is, one of my greatest accomplishments.
I think the changes I went through in my Scout experience are an analogy to the journey I went through during my college experience as a whole. My freshman year was marked with melancholy as I trudged through classes for a major that I hated. I wasn’t involved, I wasn’t outgoing and I had no direction. I soon changed my major to sports communication and began putting more effort into my classes in addition to participating in extracurricular organizations. I grew through this involvement into the person I am today.
There are also people that I have to thank, both on and off of the Scout staff, who have helped me grow in one way or another over the past four years.
First, to Maddie: whether you knew it or not, you were perhaps one of the biggest teachers during my time here at Bradley. I’ve learned about the world of journalism first as your Copy Editor, then as your News Editor and now as your Managing Editor. Thank you for guiding me through my Scout journey and for your patience in my journalism education (and for when I have to ask you how to save PDFs every week on InDesign).
To (Chris) Kaergard: I want to thank you for inspiring me to be dedicated and passionate towards a career. Your mentorship over the past three years is something that I will carry with me throughout all of my future endeavors.
To Lisa and Kylee: who have always shown me what true support is. During my most stressful times on staff, Lisa has always managed to put a smile on my face through her humor and genuinity, and Kylee is always willing to help me, no matter what time of the day or night it is.
To AJ: you are one of the only people who was around me during my quiet freshman days (and throughout high school), and you’ve been brave enough to stick around me during my zaniness (both in and outside The Scout office). Thank you for your constant friendship.
To Molly: your friendship has meant so much to me and is one of the reasons I have gained self-confidence. You are a true leader, and I’ve been inspired by you to do my best every day. Thank you for all of our memories.
To Mom and Dad: this past year has been one of the most challenging for our family. What you have shown me during this time (and throughout my life) is that it is never too late to better ourselves. We can always grow and change to become better versions of ourselves. I’m not sure what kind of higher being, fate or destiny gave me you as parents, but I know that I am the luckiest person to have your support and love. Thank you for everything.
To my brother, Vinny, and my sister, Jenna: there aren’t enough words. This is the first time in our lives when we are not heading in the same direction. After spending 21 years together, I think it is time that we start to choose our own paths, but please know how much our life together has meant to me. We have shared so much, from our childhood marked by matching outfits and outnumbering Mom and Dad, to high school, where our different personalities began to come forth. Vinny is the kindest person I have ever known. He has the ability to unconditionally accept people without judgment or prejudice. Jenna is the most passionate person I know, and she has taught me that it is OK to show my feelings and be vulnerable. I know you both will continue to add so much love into this world. Thank you for a childhood packed with three times the love, laughs and memories.
I could name many other people who have touched my life during the course of my Bradley experience, and to them, I also extend my gratitude. I have come to learn over my past four years at Bradley that it is not only experiences that shape a person, but the individuals that you come into contact with through those experiences as well. I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by people who have allowed me to grow and to be happy. I will forever be grateful.