Words of end-of-semester wisdom

Prologue
For some reason or another, I feel like making this a little bit informal. And by a little bit, I actually mean in your face, blatant and woefully overstated. The ideas I’m presenting will make sense, but may take some nonsensical introduction. Such as this “prologue.”
Oh let me count the ways this semester has affected me… one, two, three, 10 million. That’s what I think when someone says, “Let me count the ways.” You can count. Awesome.
So instead of listing random things, lets talk about the major things that happened, roughly try and process them and their meanings and find a way to learn from them. All in one sitting. Got your coffee? Great, me too.

This is NOT a list
Going into the semester, we had some turnover here at the newspaper, which is to be expected. Our special edition magazine came out really well, then our first issue of the newspaper. The second issue, however, was our tone-setter for the spring. I mean, where else can you talk about STDs and King Cakes in a newspaper and they still are relevant?
Then I received an award. Then another. And another. Just to give you a visual representation, here are all of the awards that I won this semester:
First Place for Best News Story, Louisiana Press Association; First Place for Best News Graphic Designer, Southeast Journalism Conference; Outstanding News Photograph, American Scholastic Press Association; Second Place for Best Sports Photography, LPA; Second Place in Sidebar Writing for the Le Souvenir, Columbia Scholastic Press Association; Third Place for Sports Photography (Large), Society of Professional Journalists; Third Place for Best Sports Photography, LPA; Honorable Mention for Best Sports Photography, LPA; Certificate of Merit in Photography Portfolio for the Le Souvenir, Columbia Scholastic Press Association; and a medal for First Place in the 2013 SEJC Onsite Competition.
Oh wait, I just listed things. I have broken my own rules!

Real Talk
Seriously, though, we ended our semester at the newspaper very well. I could not ask for better coworkers. But I could ask for more. I would like to take a moment and inform anybody who may be reading this (and trust me, if you have turned the page, I sincerely thank you) that our newspaper offers experience you simply will not find in a classroom. Writing, photography, graphic design, public relations and organizational communication, anyone from the Languages and Communication Department and the Fine and Performing Arts Department will certainly find a home here.
Maybe that was not as brief as I said it would be… Anyway, the newspaper went to another level this semester, and I salute everyone working on our staff and appreciate the feedback from our readers. This is for you, and we want Southeastern, its community and the public to continue to come to us as the main source for news on campus.

[Insert Idea Here]
Taking this last semester into account, one theme became apparent that I wish every journalist to take away – bigger is better. If you think that really cannot fit into your column right now (trust me, modesty is just fine), here’s another – stories exist.
In this world of greed, war and tragedy, overcoming the unfortunate can be hard. Obstacles abound, the search for stories is not a reason to stop looking. The triumphant, the redeemers, the hard workers, they are out there. Find them. Talk with them. It is our duty to the public to tell these stories.
And if you think that’s something you just cannot do because of a “struggling” economy for newspapers, low staffing or for other things happening, move on over. I will gladly take your place because I will find those stories.

In the end
As we head into the summer malaise, take a necessary pause. Gather your thoughts. Take inventory of everything you’ve done so far this year. Tie up loose ends before they unravel too much. Connect to those you haven’t been giving enough time too and cut out those causing too much unnecessary drama or hurt in your life.
Finding yourself during a pause in the usual hectic life of a college student can help during the trying times you will inevitably face. This is the time that will decide what you do professionally, maybe for the rest of your life. Be certain that you won’t regret these decisions now and be the person you want to be.
The end can come quick, just like this semester did. But in hindsight, when something ends, it always felt like the time it took to get to the ending flew by. But there’s always the next second, minute, hour, day, week, month and year. A next semester. A next paper. A next final.
A next job. A next friend. A next love.
In the end, it never is.