Opinion: A UW-Superior senior’s good-bye

Sit­ting on my dorm bed with my lap­top com­fort­ably on my lap, I begin to rem­i­nisce about my col­lege years. I remem­ber being a young girl and com­plain­ing to Grandma that the school year took for­ever and sum­mer would never come. I rolled my eyes in dis­agree­ment when she said that time goes by faster when you’re older. She told me that pretty soon the years would begin to fly by, and I needed to enjoy the moments before they were gone. Four short years ago I enrolled at North­west­ern Col­lege. Three even shorter years ago, I trans­ferred to the Uni­ver­sity of Wisconsin-Superior. My Grandma was cor­rect in her pre­dic­tion; time ticked away twice as fast dur­ing my col­lege years. I fluffed my pil­low, leaned back, and con­tin­ued think­ing. I thought about the morn­ings I sat on the red cush­ioned chairs at chapel at North­west­ern Col­lege prais­ing God between classes. I thought about my jour­nal­ism classes in Supe­rior and each aspir­ing reporter who helped along the way. I met the love of my life in a jour­nal­ism class. I thought about my jour­ney with the Stinger. I remem­ber how fas­ci­nat­ing my Psy­chol­ogy classes were. I will never for­get cheer­lead­ing at UW-S; I made friends that I will never forget.

Move in day at North­west­ern Col­lege with my sis­ter, Kelsey, and grandma.

I grad­u­ated from Cameron High School in May 2008. In Jan­u­ary of 2009, I enrolled in North­west­ern Col­lege to pur­sue my career; a major in jour­nal­ism and a Bible minor. My spir­i­tual life flour­ished at North­west­ern. I enrolled in courses such as Psalms, Matthew, and the whole New and Old Tes­ta­ment to learn the his­tory and how to bet­ter inter­pret the Bible. I was chal­lenged and pushed day after day not only to learn Jesus, but also to learn jour­nal­ism. I wrote for the Col­umn, the stu­dent news­pa­per. I took an intro­duc­tion to jour­nal­ism class and was imme­di­ately hooked. After a year and a half at North­west­ern, I felt God lead­ing me down a new path. Blindly and slightly reluc­tant, I trans­ferred to UW-Superior that next semester.

My good friend Danielle and I dec­o­rated my dorm door for Valen­tines Day.

Dur­ing ori­en­ta­tion in Supe­rior, I was intro­duced to the city, cam­pus, and my best friend, Danielle Grover, who will be the maid of honor of my wed­ding this fall. My UW-S jour­nal­ism classes dif­fered from North­west­ern mainly because the focus was no longer on reli­gious writ­ing. In Joel Ander­sons COMM203 News Gath­er­ing & Report­ing class, I was taught the prin­ci­ples of jour­nal­ism. Ander­son was a stick­ler on well writ­ten leads. I recall one Fri­day morn­ing he told us stu­dents our leads weren’t good enough; he gave us the week­end to re-read the mate­r­ial before giv­ing us another assign­ment. Red ink slathered my first few attempts of lead writ­ing includ­ing com­ments such as, “old news, what’s new?” and “one sen­tence?? Hmmm…” By the third attempt, I received my first writ­ten com­pli­ment! He was a dif­fi­cult man to please with his many blunt com­ments. These com­ments which tore me down forced me to rethink what I knew about jour­nal­ism and pushed me to grow into a stronger and more con­fi­dent reporter. I am cer­tain that I learned how to write a strong lead for print jour­nal­ism in Anderson’s class. I will use this knowl­edge in my future career because I aspire to become a print journalist.

Blake Melin and I are tying the knot in October.

The sec­ond jour­nal­ism class I took at UW-S was COMM170 Media and Soci­ety taught by Tara Kach­gal. I remem­ber stand­ing out­side of a Holden class­room shar­ing Christ­mas sto­ries with Jes­sica Hamil­ton, a stu­dent from News Gath­er­ing class, when Blake Melin approached me. He just trans­ferred from the Uni­ver­sity of North Dakota, he said. He was strik­ingly friendly and attrac­tive; lit­tle did I know in five months I would fall in love with that stranger I met out­side of Media and Soci­ety. Kach­gal had the class inter­act in a num­ber of aca­d­e­mic ways such as group pre­sen­ta­tions, role-play and dis­cus­sion facil­i­ta­tions. In the end, my knowl­edge grew on media con­ver­gence, media his­tory, and pub­lic rela­tions. While I did not write jour­nal­is­tic arti­cles, I will use the infor­ma­tion I learned from this class to fur­ther my pres­ence in social media because the world of jour­nal­ism is tak­ing that direc­tion. In this way, I can use web­sites and social media out­lets such as face­book, Twit­ter, and LinkedIn to lengthen my out­reach into the community.

Susan Stanich taught the two jour­nal­ism classes which chal­lenged my per­cep­tion of report­ing. In COMM320 Selected News Writ­ing, Stanich assigned a com­men­tary and two fea­ture arti­cles. The con­cept of writ­ing a skilled sound­ing opin­ion arti­cle was a dif­fi­cult assign­ment. I had learned jour­nal­ism is unbi­ased and opin­ion must be quoted by inter­vie­wees. Stanich chal­lenged my per­cep­tion of jour­nal­ism, pushed me out of my com­fort zone, and I wrote a com­men­tary about my hatred of Black Fri­day. Sur­pris­ingly, my appre­hen­sion of opin­ion quickly faded as I wrote down my emo­tions; it was actu­ally enjoy­able. For this class, I also wrote two reli­gious fea­ture arti­cles regard­ing how com­fort­able Chris­tians feel on cam­pus and the debate of female pas­tors. This was a won­der­ful expe­ri­ence because it re-lit a fire in my dry aca­d­e­mic life. My goal is to write for a Chris­t­ian news orga­ni­za­tion in my future. This class just rein­forced my pas­sion. In Stanich’s COMM330 Advanced News Writ­ing class, Blake and I wrote our first jour­nal­ism arti­cle as a team. We inves­ti­gated the pay and respon­si­bil­i­ties of cam­pus secu­rity offi­cers and how they dif­fered from police offi­cers in our enter­prise arti­cle. This was a great expe­ri­ence not only for my research and writ­ing skills, but it also made us aware of how well Blake and I work together. I also had an oppor­tu­nity to write an arti­cle for the Supe­rior Telegram. The expe­ri­ence went extremely well and I was rec­om­mended as a free­lance reporter for the cities news­pa­per. Of all my pro­fes­sors, Stanich seemed to have the most faith in me and my writ­ing abil­i­ties. These classes taught me the dif­fer­ent jour­nal­is­tic themes and arti­cle styles. Stanich helped mold me into the reporter I am today.

The last jour­nal­ism class that I took was with the Wis­con­sin Pub­lic Radio KUWS news reporter Mike Simon­son. COMM358 Broad­cast Jour­nal­ism pre­pared me for my radio intern­ship. In this class, Simon­son played recorded inter­views and assigned us to write scripts. He encour­aged us stu­dents to lis­ten to news reg­u­larly as he would have some­one give the story of the day in the begin­ning of each class period. He would ask how we could make a national story local. This was a skill I incor­po­rated into my intern­ship as I wrote a local spin on the Boston bomb­ing tragedy by inter­view­ing local marathon run­ners about their reac­tions. Simon­son is a pro­fes­sor who gives very few com­pli­ments so each “good job, Palmer” was music to my ears. While I still enjoy print jour­nal­ism slightly more than broad­cast, this was a great expe­ri­ence. I am sure I will use the inter­view­ing and tech­nol­ogy skills I learned in Simonson’s class and at my intern­ship at KUWS in my future career.

My pro­fes­sor and men­tor, Susan Stanich, gave me health advice for my HHP class, “eat healthy snacks.”

Writ­ing for the UW-Superior stu­dent run news­pa­per has been a long and reward­ing jour­ney. The first time I sat in a meet­ing, my hand shot up almost uncon­trol­lably as I assigned myself to a story. I became a per­sis­tent and excited reporter of the Stinger team my first year at UW-S. Blake became the web edi­tor dur­ing my sec­ond year with the Stinger. He taught me how to work the back end of the web­site and even­tu­ally passed the torch as he grad­u­ated last Decem­ber. I was an active par­tic­i­pant in con­vert­ing the Stinger mag­a­zine into a bi-monthly news­pa­per. I took over the adver­tis­ing posi­tion to help pay for the paper. I then became the lay­out edi­tor and spent count­less hours in the Stinger office cre­at­ing a tem­plate to send to the print­ing press. I tran­si­tioned from eager reporter into three edi­tor posi­tions by my senior year. I am proud of the Stinger.

In Supe­rior, I minored in Psy­chol­ogy. The knowl­edge I gained from my psy­chol­ogy classes helped me with jour­nal­ism and under­stand­ing peo­ple. Because I enjoy writ­ing pro­files for my jour­nal­ism classes, I found my Psy­chol­ogy courses to be extremely help­ful. For exam­ple, tak­ing a Social Psy­chol­ogy class I learned dif­fer­ent the­o­ries of why peo­ple act the way they do in groups. While inter­view­ing peo­ple, I keep what I learned in the back of my mind in order to con­front them with­out offend­ing them. I learned that peo­ple are very social beings and they have desires to belong with other peo­ple. This helped me to under­stand the back­grounds and motives of the peo­ple I inter­viewed. I also learned in Behav­ior Analy­sis that using pos­i­tive rein­force­ment will help dif­fi­cult inter­views go more smoothly when peo­ple feel more com­fort­able. Because every­one is going to be dif­fer­ent, I will have to engage with the per­son I will inter­view to find out what will make him or her tell me their story. In my Crit­i­cal Think­ing class, I learned about dif­fer­ent fal­lac­ies and how to inter­view peo­ple who walk around the answer (namely politi­cians). I thor­oughly enjoyed these classes because the pro­fes­sors are very knowl­edge­able of their sub­jects and extremely good at engag­ing their classes. I will use what I learned in my Psy­chol­ogy courses in my future career as a reporter.

Catch­ing some air at a Yel­low­jacket hockey game!

I was thir­teen years old when I put on my first black and yel­low skirt and cheered for my mid­dle school foot­ball team. From then on, my love has been cheer­lead­ing. The adren­a­line rush of being thrown into the air, my feet free from the safety of the hard­wood floor, and the rush of trust­ing my team­mates to catch my freefalling body are a few of the aspects of this sport that drew me in. Before trans­fer­ring to UW-S, I checked the sports web­page for a promise to ful­fill my obses­sion of cheer. Sure enough, I became a Yel­low­jacket cheer­leader! This sport had pushed me to have faith in myself and oth­ers, and moti­vated me to be a leader. I will never for­get the day my coach decided I would learn to fly. My heart pounded in my chest, my shak­ing knees buck­led the moment my bases tossed my feet out of their hands. They caught me, legs flail­ing; but they caught me. I learned, a few attempts later, that I didn’t trust my team­mates. I needed to put my life in their hands and have faith that no mat­ter what hap­pened, I wouldn’t hit the ground! Once I was dropped and sprained an ankle, but the crutches were worth the hours of thrill I got from fly­ing. I also needed to learn to trust myself. When I based a flyer, I had to trust that I could hold that girl safely in the air. I had to have con­fi­dence in myself when per­form­ing in front of the stu­dent sec­tion. I learned and I grew. My senior year, I accepted posi­tion as Cheer Cap­tain after a vote from my squad. My respon­si­bil­i­ties were expanded as I led prac­tices, guided games, and took charge of the cheer voice in S.A.A.C. (Student-Athletic Advi­sory Com­mit­tee) meet­ings. Girls would come to me with frus­tra­tions and con­cerns, and I had to be the leader they could rely on. The skills I learned from cheer­lead­ing at UW-S will help with my future jour­nal­ism career because I have more con­fi­dence in myself and approach­ing strangers. I also have sharp­ened my lead­er­ship skills which will help me make deci­sions on my own arti­cles and for the news­room team.

Time for the next chap­ter of life.

I have many mem­o­ries and friends I will cher­ish from UW-S. My goal was to accept my diploma in front of my fam­ily and friends. I will then marry my best friend and pur­sue a career in jour­nal­ism. The expe­ri­ences from North­west­ern, my jour­nal­ism classes, the Stinger, my psy­chol­ogy classes, and cheer­lead­ing will help with my future endeav­ors. Now it’s time to say goodbye.

Images cour­tesy of Alyssa Palmer — The Stinger
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