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The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

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Fleskes: I wrote my way out, and it was great: Goodbye Collegian

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.

Dear reader,

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I thought of around a million ways to begin this and around two million references to use. I tried so hard to come up with a way to describe this place: this basement filled with computers, couches that are far too comfy, not enough snacks and constant energy. I gave it my all to find something to compare to these people: the most wonderful, hilarious, intelligent and skilled people that I have ever met. But every time I came up short, and I realized something.

There is nothing in this world comparable to The Collegian. There is no phrase, no word, no silly movie or video game reference that I can make or write that will illustrate what this newspaper, what this company and what these people mean to me.

But more than this, no words can describe how hard it is to have to say goodbye. To have to clean out my office, walk down the long newsroom hallway and say goodbye to the family that I had come to know so well.

people pose for photo on oval
The 2019-20 Rocky Mountain Collegian editorial board poses for a photo Oct. 17, 2019. (Matt Tackett | The Collegian)

When I started my time at The Collegian, I was a terrified freshman in way over his head. I felt out of place, a stranger in an even stranger land. But quickly I came to realize the energy and light that came from the newsroom (ironically, since it is in the basement). I wanted so desperately to have what the editorial board at the time had. I wanted to have those connections and those friendships because I knew they were special.

My sophomore year, I kicked it into high gear; I busted my ass day in and day out to shine on the news desk. But still I was scared. I felt like I didn’t belong. And if it wasn’t for Rachel Telljohn, the news editor at the time, I never would have had the courage to apply for news director and eventually get it.

My junior year was one of the hardest points in my life. But during every dark day, every time I was down in the dumps or being hard on myself, my colleagues, my friends, at work were there to pick me up, dust me off and occasionally smack the stupid self-doubt out of my head.

If it wasn’t for Natalia Sperry, my fellow editor, Shelby Holsinger, my managing editor and closest confidant, and my best friend and colleague Forrest Czarnecki, I am not sure how I would have made it through that year.

Finally, we arrive at my senior year: the absolute best year of my life. I was honored with the position of managing editor alongside my best friend, something that I never could have imagined. And while the year kicked me up and down as crazier and crazier things happened, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

My experience at Colorado State University can be told through this wonderful, crazy, wildly skilled group of journalists. When I think back on my time here, while there are so many good memories from outside of work, there are so many more from right in that basement.

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Memories from my first published story, to my promotions and new positions, to every single crazy night spent working away at making the most quality product that I could. From the time Natalia and I locked ourselves in the conference room to finish a big story, to when we put together our first big April Fools’ Day edition, to the day that I got to sit in front of my staff right next to my best friend for the first time. There are so many crazy stories and even crazier nights, and I wouldn’t change a second of it.

people pose for photo on oval
The 2019-20 Rocky Mountain Collegian editorial board poses for a photo Oct. 17, 2019. (Matt Tackett | The Collegian)

I know that throughout my time with the paper I made plenty of stupid mistakes. I know that as a leader I did not always make the right choice. I know that there were plenty of times during the years that I smacked my forehead and asked myself what the hell I was doing. But at the end of it all, I look back on these four years and smile because of one thing: I did it.

Despite everything the universe threw at me to try and knock me down, despite every single person who didn’t believe in me and, more than anything, despite my own mind telling me that I wasn’t enough, I made it through.

Just like my time at the paper, it is hard for me to end this column because it signifies the true end. The end of the best experience that this crazy world has ever given me. So, I just want to say one more thing: thank you.

If you have ever walked through the Lory Student Center and heard the loud noises coming from the RMSMC newsroom and ever thought of going in, I urge you: do it. Take that step, walk down that hall and get started. There is no place on campus like student media and no place like The Collegian.”

Thank you to the readers, the ones that keep this group of young, scrappy journalists going. Thank you for reading, commenting, praising and criticizing. If it wasn’t for all of you, this wonderful little paper would not exist.

Thank you to all the pro staff in the Rocky Mountain Student Media Corporation. Thank you for helping us get through some of the toughest situations while also having to deal with our loud, weird antics every single day.

Thank you to all other members of student media. I am so lucky to have gotten to learn with you and to have grown as people.

Thank you to my news staff, who I had the pleasure of leading. It was because of all of you that I pushed myself every single day to improve not only as a leader and a journalist, but as a person.

Thank you to the 2018-19 editorial board for showing me that I am worth it and that I do belong.

Thank you to my editorial board during the 2019-20 school year. You are some of the most incredible people that I have ever had the pleasure of working with, and I am honored to call myself your friend.

 

Finally, I want to give one more special thank you to one more person. To our leader, our hard-ass, our horse-loving editor in chief and my best friend, Forrest Czarnecki. Since day one, we have stood side by side, and I am all the better for it. Through four years, I never knew that I could rely so heavily on one person for anything that I need. If it weren’t for you, I seriously doubt I would be where I am today. You were the best friend and best colleague that I ever could have asked for, and I will miss you dearly.

people pose for photo on oval
Managing Editor Austin Fleskes and Editor-in-Chief Forrest Czarnecki pose for a photo Oct. 17, 2019. (Matt Tackett | The Collegian)

If you have ever walked through the Lory Student Center and heard the loud noises coming from the RMSMC newsroom and ever thought of going in, I urge you: Do it. Take that step, walk down that hall and get started. There is no place on campus like student media and no place like The Collegian.

This little nook on campus, this tiny basement that is always busy and loud, is the single greatest place at CSU. It holds the best people, the best work and the best experiences.

So I compel you, become a part of this family.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love “Hamilton.” I have spent so much time thinking about it in relation to my life, and one line always stands out to me: “I wrote my way out, wrote everything down far as I could see.”

That’s what I did. No matter how dark the world seemed, no matter what the universe threw at me, no matter how hard it was to push on, I wrote my way out, and I did it through The Rocky Mountain Collegian. And it was the best experience of my life.

Goodbye Collegian, I will miss you.

Your 2019-20 Collegian managing editor,

Austin Fleskes

Austin Fleskes was the managing editor of The Rocky Mountain Collegian. He can no longer be reached at managingeditor@collegian.com, but you can reach out to him on Twitter @Austinfleskes07.

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