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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.