Thank you and goodbye: outgoing seniors reflect on time at student media

Collegian Technical

Editor’s Note: Traditionally graduating seniors working at The Collegian are given the chance to write a farewell note at the end of their tenure at CSU. These are those notes.

Erin Douglas, outgoing editor in chief

Dear alumni, faculty, staff, parents, my fellow students and every Collegian staff member past and present:

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Today I am no longer the editor-in-chief of your student newspaper. In reflection, I want to share a bit of myself with you. 

I can recall three flashbulb memories during my four years reporting on and attending Colorado State University:

I remember sitting at a wooden table at Mugs at 3 p.m. on a Tuesday in February of 2016. I remember writing the first sentence of a story that accused the student government of maintaining an office culture where sexual harassment went unchecked.

I remember seeing the subject line “Confidential ASCSU OEO Investigation Tip” flash across my phone while I was walking through the Parmelee dining hall on a Monday in August 2016. I remember sliding to unlock, and reading the leaked document from the Office of Equal Opportunity that confirmed ASCSU was found responsible for creating a hostile work environment due to sexual harassment.

I remember sitting on a couch in the corner of the newsroom at 9 p.m. on a Wednesday in February of 2017. I remember editing the final draft of a reporter’s story that exposed the accusations Stephanie Bess had made against a star basketball player who abused her and that detailed the university’s non-response.

Everything I learned the past four years that made me who I am as a journalist: the meetings with sources, the voice recordings stored on my phone, the hours I spent editing with my editors and the hours I spent editing with my reporters – none were more influential than each time my newspaper stood behind me in opposition to power.

But, that’s what journalism must do; to stand in opposition to power is its greatest challenge and greatest strength. Journalists are differentiated from other storytellers by our willingness to oppose and expose; our dedication to truth and fairness; our loyalty to fellow citizens and not to an institution.

Commonly I believe journalists are stereotyped as cynical, critical and condescending. Maybe we can be. But, I think journalists are too often overlooked as community leaders. In four years, the people I met who were the most dedicated to, the most loving of and the most enthralled by this campus community I found in the newsroom.

I wish I could explain the trust and dedication I saw from my staff in the past four years. If I could communicate even a tiny fraction of how much they love their job and each other, I would.

Everything I learned the past four years that made me who I am as a journalist, none were more influential than each time my newspaper stood behind me in opposition to power.

This newspaper gave me so much, and I don’t know if I’ve given it enough back. It was the challenge of my time here to serve my community as much as my community served me. I can never repay it – I will spend the rest of my life indebted to what The Collegian taught me about journalism, leadership and friendship. I will spend the rest of my life indebted to the people who made me who I am and who I will become.

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I wrote 165 stories for The Collegian. I don’t know how many times I laughed, cried and said, “I love you,” but I know it wasn’t enough. I regret not taking more videos of us laughing, not saving more cut-out nopes/dopes for my bulletin board, and not screen-shotting more groupme conversations. I wish I had spent more time living like every moment with the people I love was imperative to remember because it was.

So, my plea for this upcoming group of editors and for their peers they will write for is this: Live life as if you’re about to go to press. Live it urgently and bravely. Have passion and purpose. Deeply consider the impact every word has. Live it like everyone you know is looking to you for leadership – because if you live like this, they will.

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I feel obligated to thank a few people who got me through the past four years. Thank you:

  • To Tatiana, who I anticipated being friends with but who I never knew would become my soulmate. Thank you for literally changing your life plan to be with me, for always loving me with your whole heart, and for matching my dedication and then raising me one. Know that I am deeply and forever in love with you. When the whole world seemed to come down, I knew your laugh would lift us up. You were my light, and I’m so jealous of whoever gets to see it shine next year.
  • To Jim, whose few kind words my sophomore year allowed me to become the editor I needed to be. From the moment you stepped into the newsroom, you had my back. I simply sought your guidance and found enthusiastic, unwavering and dedicated support. You have impacted me as a journalist and leader more than you will ever know.
  • To Seth, who I never anticipated being friends with, but who I wouldn’t have survived this year without. Your impact on the newsroom and on me can never be repaid. Your sweet smile and kind words were so often the reason I was able to continue with strength. At the time, it felt like we were spending too many 3 a.m. nights at Ally Cat, but now it doesn’t feel like enough.
  • To my news babies, who dealt with a crazy election season and a crazier editor (me). I am so proud of each and every one of you. I was not easy on you. That you continued to strive for greatness is a testament to how far you will take this newspaper. Trust it.
  • To Chapman, who allowed me to be my truest self. You never asked me to compromise my feelings. You let me be crazy, aggressive, ridiculous and sassy, and you simply dealt it back to me. I love you forever.
  • To all my sprots bois (past and present), who showed me unwavering loyalty, the feeling is mutual. I am your biggest fan. I will never understand why you came to me for advice on sports reporting, but I’m honored. Go team.
  • To the web wizards, who are objectively magical. It’s unbelievable how talented, strong and crazy patient the three of you are. Be proud of yourselves.
  • To the rest of the editorial board, I love you.
  • To the rest of the newsroom, I am so proud of you. 
  • To every Collegian editor before me, thank you. I am humbled by your support this year. I’ll do my best to give ‘em hell in New York.

Former Collegian Editor-in-Chief Erin Douglas can be reached at erinmdouglas23@gmail.com or on Twitter @erinmdouglas23. After graduation, she will complete a summer internship at Bloomberg in New York City. After that, she’ll let you know. 


Rachel Telljohn, outgoing news editor

Journalism is addicting in the way I must imagine hard drugs are addicting.

Journalism is no longer my major, and yet some ridiculous part of me cannot seem to rid myself of it. Between my own addictive tendencies and the pressure put on me by my editor, Erin Douglas, I found myself in the position of news editor for the 2017-2018 school year. 

I entered into the position almost certain I would quit during the fall semester. Except for that whole addict thing. I ended up quitting a different job, and sticking with The Collegian until what feels like the sweetbitter end. 

There were two moments this semester during which I knew I was meant to be a journalist in some capacity, and meant to be a journalist at The Collegian

The first was the day Savannah McNealy died. I woke up at six in the morning that day, very uncharacteristically, to the public safety alerts and went into ‘journalist mode’. That was how I moved through the majority of my day, in journalist mode. I was on my way out of the Lory Student Center when the email came in that it was a student. I ran—ran like my life depended on it—back to the newsroom and typed through the shakiness of adrenaline. 

I was in my mother’s car when the name was released. I sobbed—and I went back to the newsroom. 

I was in my mother’s car when the name was released. I sobbed—and I went back to the newsroom. 

I looked around the newsroom at the other faces that surely mirrored mine—red cheeked and puffy eyed—and knew in that moment that they were my family, and there was no other place I was supposed to be. 

The second moment was during the Charlie Kirk speech. I snuck down to the newsroom for a quiet dinner break during the event, only to see the message that there was something happening outside. Without a second thought, I grabbed my coat and my reporter’s notebook and ran out the door. With one of my best friends/coworkers by my side, we tromped through snow, saw a man’s head bleeding and followed neo-nazis. 

Neither experience is something I thought I would experience as a young twenty-something year old, and I owe it to nearly sheer dumb luck that I ended up in the job I did. 

Working for a newspaper is a beast all its own. It involves late nights and moments that make you want to tear your hair out, but those moments subside. The next morning, you have the satisfaction of seeing someone reading the thing you pour your heart and soul into almost daily.

Those stressful moments are also eased by the fact that the people you work with in a newsroom, and in student media more broadly, are some of the best humans to exist on this planet. Somewhere along the way they become your family; you drink together, you cry together and you make one of the coolest things (I think) we get to make in this life, the newspaper. 

I mentioned that I stuck with The Collegian until the sweetbitter end. I call it sweetbitter purposefully—it is a phrase that actually comes from Sappho—because this paper, this life, is sweet before it is bitter, and then it is sweet again. There are quite a few of us graduating (it feels like) from student media this year and I can already tell—it was sweet, it is bitter, and the paper will be sweet once again, even after we leave. 

Catch you on the flip side, Rocky Mountain Student Media. It is off into the wonderful unknown.

Rachel Telljohn can be reached on Twitter @racheltelljohn


Michelle Fredrickson, outgoing opinion editor

Before I even moved to Fort Collins to attend CSU for graduate school, I knew I wanted to work for The Collegian.

I had spent all four years of my undergraduate at Washington State University deeply involved in The Daily Evergreen, the local student newspaper, as everything from sports columnist to news editor to editor-in-chief. It had been the best experience of my college career. I love student journalism, and I believe at my core that it is one of the greatest things a university can offer.

After leaving The Daily Evergreen, I was nervous about going to a new paper. How would any newspaper live up to the ridiculously high expectations I had for Student Media? 

The Collegian more than lived up to these expectations. Ever since I started my master’s program here, The Collegian has allowed me to meet some of the smartest, most talented, most hardworking people I’ve seen anywhere.

I was a jack of all trades for The Collegian, wearing whatever hat the paper needed me to put on. These hats were news writer, sports columnist, opinion columnist, copy editor, and eventually opinion editor. I was willing to do whatever the paper needed, because The Collegian is full of people who staff the paper with love, joy and dignity and are doing their best to make this campus a better place. Those people are inspiring to work with, and they drove others around them to reach for the same success.

 even though I’ve moved away from a career in journalism, the skills a person takes away from writing for a newspaper are essential across career boundaries.

I’m receiving my master’s in public health on Friday, but even though I’ve moved away from a career in journalism, the skills a person takes away from writing for a newspaper are essential across career boundaries. The best experience I have had at the newspaper has been on the opinion desk, first as a health columnist and then as the desk editor.

I thought I had seen it all when I started writing for opinion. I’d been in student newsrooms for five years; I thought nothing could surprise me. I was so wrong. The opinion section had a unique vibrancy about it, a culture where people with radically opposing viewpoints made an effort to understand each other and get along. In today’s divided political times, it was amazing to be part of something like that.

Working for this newspaper and my desk in particular made me a better person. It made me more compassionate toward others. It made me more capable of seeing and understanding all sides to a discussion. It was a venue for intelligent, informed discussion without attack, and it had a positive effect on everyone who worked on this desk.

I am genuinely sad to be leaving the opinion desk, and The Collegian as a whole. The people who make this paper possible are some of the most intelligent, hardworking and powerful human beings I’ve ever met. I feel incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to work with them, because I’m confident that they are the next generation of leaders.

Jayla Hodge is taking up the opinion desk mantle, and there is nobody I would rather see leading this desk. Jayla goes out of her way to understand those around her, to understand where they’re coming from and why they hold the opinions they do, especially when it’s not easy for her. She is exactly what the opinion section needs in an editor.

Getting to know Jayla this year has made me a better person, and as head of the opinion section, she’ll have that effect on the whole campus next year.

Thank you CSU, and especially The Collegian. I will never forget my time at this newspaper.

Michelle Fredrickson can be reached online at @mfredrickson42


Seth Bodine, outgoing night editor

I’ve spent a lot of time during the past two semesters late in the newsroom as night editor for The Collegian. I’ve spent countless hours looking over each and every page before it gets submitted for the print newspaper the next day, and a lot of time waiting for articles to come in and making major changes. And I’ve enjoyed every single minute of that time. Now, as graduation rapidly approaches, it’s time to say goodbye. 

I first wandered into The Collegian newsroom as a nervous yet excited freshman. I was completely intimidated by the newsroom, and by the concept of reporting. But once I started; I fell in love with it. I owe so much to the editors who trained me and sometimes spent hours editing my articles—Danny Bishop, Caitlin Curly, Ellie Leonard and Christina Vessa. When I became a news editor in 2016, I carried the generosity and compassion they showed me when training and editing with my own reporters. 

The newsroom is a consistently inspiring place for me, and it’s mostly due to the people I work with. Being a part of an incredibly talented editorial board that always expected greatness pushed me to be the best leader, reporter, editor and person I could be. I am always proud, but never surprised, by the achievements my coworkers. It has set a major precedent for success as I move on to graduate school in journalism at the University of Missouri in the fall. 

 I’ve made incredible friendships. They made the late nights in the newsroom and hours of lost sleep worth it. There are far too many to name and thank, but I will name a few.

During my time working, particularly this year, I’ve also made incredible friendships. They made the late nights in the newsroom and hours of lost sleep worth it. There are far too many to name and thank, but I will name a few.

Thank you Tatiana Parafiniuk-Talesnick (arguably the best comedy lifestyle podcast co-host) for late night wisdom and always managing to bring laughter, even in stressful situations.

Thank you Erin Douglas, for the constant inspiration to become a better journalist, and for the (much needed) late night statistics help.

Thank you to Tony Villalobos May, for dealing with my rants about levels and curves in photos.

Thank you to Davis Bonner, who is so talented and generous with helping with whatever project (creative or professional) I need.

There is so much more I am thankful for from these people, and I have so many more people to thank. If I continued writing, I would end up writing a book. I will spare the readers. Speaking of readers though, I am grateful for you. Every comment, every read and every critique made me work harder to serve you. 

My time working for The Collegian has been, and will forever remain, a complete joy. I wouldn’t be the person and the journalist I am today without the newspaper and the people involved with it. Which makes it even harder to say goodbye. As the poet Ross Gay says: “What do you think this … dancing and crying is other than loving every second that goes away? Goodbye, I mean to say. And thank you. Every day.”

Seth Bodine can be reached on Twitter @sbodine120.


Josh Kloehn, outgoing webmaster and IT manager

When I started at student media I didn’t know anybody. Being a computer science major, it was a bit out of my comfort zone. I suddenly found myself surrounded by some of the hardest working people I’ve met. I immediately felt at home at student media and I’m glad that I’ve had the opportunity to spend time in the media world, it’s been an eye-opening experience for me.

 I’ve been incredibly lucky to meet people in all departments of student media. I’ve made tons of friends over my two years working here, despite all my insufferable jokes.

I started at student media doing IT work, just hanging around the office and meeting people. I’ve been incredibly lucky to meet people in all departments of student media outside of the Collegian. I’ve made tons of friends over my two years working here, despite all my insufferable jokes.

As I’ve transitioned into taking over the website I’ve expanded my skills, overseeing two substantial redesigns, including our recent update at the end of March, and hopefully leaving my mark on the site for the foreseeable future. I’m fortunate to of had the chance to have a substantial voice in the website, being the point of contact for anyone in the company who needed to make changes to Collegian.com. I’ve expanded my skills

Above the work I’ve done for the Collegian, I think I’ve made even better friends here. Everyone I’ve had the pleasure to work with, Mikaela, Chapman, Rachel, Natalia, Emma, Casey and a lot more that would make this post way too long.

I’m thankful for everyone I’ve met and I’m excited to graduate and I hope that I can get back to media at some point in my career.

Josh Kloehn can be reached on Twitter @jish_jash.


Chapman Croskell, outgoing Videography Director

I’m graduating from college in less than a week.

I’m still trying to get used to that knowledge. I’ve accepted a job offer, signed a new lease, cried at plenty of senior sendoffs, but I really haven’t come to terms with the fact that my four years at Colorado State University and my three and a half years with The Collegian are coming to an end.

I still remember the first day that I walked into the newsroom, bright eyed and bushy tailed. My freshman year was coming to a close, and I figured it was a good of a time as ever to get involved with student media since I had just declared my journalism major. I sat down with the old adviser, Neill, and we had a long chat about what I was doing with my life. He gave me the email of the editors, Danny and Katie, and after a meeting with Katie — more about Game of Thrones than journalism — I found myself working as a general reporter for the summer.

Since then, I’ve worked as an arts and culture reporter, photographer, videographer, social media editor and videography director. I’ve also hosted a cooking show for CTV, written a few articles for College Avenue Magazine and created three separate podcasts while working with KCSU.

I’ve made some content that I’ve been extremely proud of in my time with student media, doing a bit of everything that I love. And yet, the best part of working here by far has been the people.

I’ve made some content that I’ve been extremely proud of in my time with student media. Content that has somehow landed me a job in Aspen, Colorado doing a bit of everything that I love. And yet, the best part of working here by far has been the people.

So, thanks. Thanks to Katie Shmidt for always believing in me and getting me into social media. Thanks to Hannah McHugh (née Ditzenberger) for letting me pitch crazy ideas, including this column that I haven’t touched in a while. Thanks to Erik Petrovitch for giving me a chance to help lead this paper, and to Julia Rentsch for inspiring me every day as my boss and for being my biggest supporter for the last year of my life. Thanks to Emma Iannacone for giving me a chance in front of the camera, and to Alec Erickson for always getting a beer and talking nerdy things for a half hour every week. Thank you to Josh Kloehn and Rachel Telljohn for being the most amazing listeners, and of course a big thank you to Erin Douglas for getting me involved in this amazing cult and for being there every step of the way for the last 4 years.

Thank you to my parents, who are the biggest fans I have, and to my professors and–

Okay, I have to stop. Because I’m running out of words, and I’m crying while writing this, and there are far too many people who have been a part of my life in my time here and I hope that they all know how much I love and appreciate them.

I’d like to end this with a quote from Edward Teller, one that was read to me by my old choir instructor during a very rough patch of my freshman year, and that has stuck with me during my entire college experience.

“When you get to the end of all the light you know and it’s time to step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things shall happen: either you will be given something solid to stand on, or you will be taught how to fly.”

Chapman Croskell can be reached on Twitter @Nescwick


Austin White, outgoing sports reporter

Really, it is all downhill from here. I mean, where else can a journalist get away with making mistakes, getting lost and missing deadlines without being in trouble like I have been able to at Student Media?

I have done my fair share of all three of those things in the past two and a half years with Rocky Mountain Student Media, and it has been the best time of my life. The sporting experiences these past few years have been incredible and will be moments I will never forget.

I witnessed a brand-new stadium open from the sidelines. Traveled to Seattle and San Francisco to witness a perennial top-25 volleyball team compete in the biggest spotlight of their sport outside of the Olympics. I even witnessed a basketball tournament in Las Vegas that had a Sweet 16 team in the Nevada Wolfpack.

All of these moments will be something I can one day look back on and tell my friends, my children, my family and whoever else that is willing to listen. 

All of these moments will be something I can one day look back on and tell my friends, my children, my family and whoever else that is willing to listen. And yet, this is only just beginning.

Nine days after graduation, I will be moving on to my job at The Pueblo Chieftain covering sports and starting my sports journalist career. Finding a job out of college is hard for everyone nowadays and I am so grateful for the people at the Chieftain to give such a young journalist this wonderful opportunity.

Getting through school was never the easiest. My family could not really afford to help out financially with anything, forcing me to balance work, school and reporting for the Collegian. That meant nights of staying up until one or three in the morning working and then waking up for a class at 9 a.m.

I did have a good time working fast food still. I worked at Taco Bell and, along with my friend Josh Borga, we took on the fun title of being “Taco Bell Guy” and trying to make the job more fun. We would say stupid taco-related jokes to give the most-likely drunk customers a laugh. Probably my peak popularity. But hey, it made the nights bearable.

Having that fun persona was really just a cover for how tough it was to miss out on the many other opportunities presented in front of me from the Collegian.

Working late-night Taco Bell meant missing out on game coverage from CSU sports since most of the big games took place at night. I never could really hang out in the newsroom with fellow reporters because I had to do homework in-between all my classes since my nights were booked. Plus, my phone did not get service in the basement of the LSC (thanks AT&T).

That is why I am very thankful for the friends I made at Taco Bell who always supported me and allowed me to show up late so many times. A big shout-out to my closest friends, Maria Ramos, Cody Hyde and Steven Evans.

I was still able to write some incredible stories that I think really meant quite a bit to the people they were about, and the community. My goal in sports media is to find the best stories outside of the lines, and I feel that mission was accomplished with each beat I was placed on.

As for my time at CSU, it has been an incredible one. Walking around campus the last few days has made me really think about how amazing this place has been to me. I was truly able to discover who I was, and learn about what real life will ask of me and what it meant to be on your own.

I was never actually alone though, because I always had my wonderful girlfriend, Faviola Robles, by my side. Supporting my career has never been easy with the late nights spent covering CSU athletics or working or doing homework. Faviola has always stayed strong though and loved me through it all.

She still has another year-and-a-half at CSU as she is pursuing her undergrad in Psychology and then eventually applying for grad school and then some day receiving her PhD. She is the most dedicated and smart woman I have ever met and I am lucky to have been with her from senior year at Wheat Ridge High school, about four-and-a-half years ago.

The next step will require me to move three hours away from Fort Collins to Pueblo, but I know that no distance can ever be greater than the love I have for Faviola (sorry for the cheesy love story).

Sports have and always will be my biggest passion though, and I am beyond excited to start making my way through the craziness of the sports media world. The many lessons of classwork and student media taught me what the industry looks like and I feel very prepared to take it on.

My editors, Chad Deutschman, Justin Michael and Colin Barnard are big contributors to that. Thank you guys for always reading through my copy and making sure I sounded like I knew what I was talking about. Also a big thank you to Mike Brohard for letting me intern with him at the Loveland Reporter-Herald this last semester. And also thank you to Bryan Buck and Nick Baker for keeping me on the sports department of KCSU.

It was great getting to know you Fort Collins, and there is no doubt I will be back to visit as often as possible. I am, and always will be, proud to be a CSU Ram.

Collegian sports reporter Austin White can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @ajwrules44