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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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Czarnecki: It wasn’t just good while it lasted, it was great

Dear readers, 

How do you say goodbye to something that is part of your own identity, something that is so deeply ingrained into who you are that it’s impossible to winnow out? It’s hard for me to believe, and even accept, that the end of the school year is already here. As the clock for the school year strikes midnight, the bell tolls for a four year relationship that began on my very first day of freshman year — my love for The Rocky Mountain Collegian


What kind of feelings are you supposed to have in a situation like this? You lose something that means the world to you. Something that you have spent the past four years investing all your emotions, time and energy into, only to have it be cut out of your life and boxed up nice and neatly once a certain date on the calendar arrives. 

Exactly one year ago today, I assumed the role of editor in chief of The Collegian. The feelings of pride, excitement and nervousness coursed through me. The happiness and jitters all mixed together. Thinking about the great times and challenges that were ahead was thrilling for me, someone who joined the newspaper as a photographer on my first day of Ram Welcome Weekend. 

It’s hard to even express the feelings I have now, reflecting on the past four years at The Collegian and the past 12 months as editor of the paper. But all I can say is that it wasn’t just good while it lasted, it was great. 

My experience as the editor of The Collegian was everything I could have hoped for and dreamed of, and that wouldn’t have been possible without you, the readers, and the members of the Colorado State University community. It would not have been possible without your readership, support, criticism and engagement.

It would not have been possible without such an amazing team of editors, reporters, photographers and designers that I was so proud to work with. 

It would not have been possible without such an amazing publication that I had the privilege of leading.

And most importantly, it would not have been possible without such a wonderful, goofy group of college students that I was lucky enough to call my friends. 

people pose for photo on oval
The 2019-2020 Rocky Mountain Collegian editorial board poses for a photo Oct. 17, 2019. (Matt Tackett | The Collegian)

Although this isn’t the goodbye I was hoping for, it’ll have to do. I can’t help but feel a little bitter and sad about it. It’s like a car crash that you know is coming, and you know it’s going to hurt. All you can do is watch and wait for what comes after the smoke and the dust and the shattered glass have settled. 

It’s beyond painful to say goodbye and write this column. It’s heartbreaking, especially under these circumstances. 


The last issue that was printed under my editorship rolled off the presses with a headline that spelled uncertainty and disruption for the entire University system. It was a historic issue and a historic moment in the state’s history. 

There is a sense of pride that comes with knowing we documented a pivotal moment in the school year and got the news out to so many community members. But there is also a sense of sorrow that comes with knowing that the last issue came two months earlier than it was supposed to, and there weren’t any proper goodbyes. 

That’s enough sorrow for now, and I don’t mean for it to be overwhelming or give the impression that all I’m left with is sadness and pain from this editorship — it’s exactly the opposite. But I will say that those feelings are inescapable at the moment and are worthy of some words on the page. 

I could not have been more proud of the work that everyone on staff did this year and the stories that we told. This year gave me further conviction in my belief that local journalism and community-oriented stories make a difference. I saw the results and I felt them in the community. I hope you did too.

We had a lot of learning experiences this year and went through one of the most tumultuous years on campus that I can remember. We received both praise and criticism, both of which are necessary to keep a publication healthy and humble. As a newsroom we learned a lot, shared a lot of great stories and highlighted so many great things about the Fort Collins community. 

Now, I walk away from this paper so deeply proud and satisfied with the work that we did, the stories we told and the relationships we built within the community. If I said I wasn’t proud of those things, you could call me a liar. 

On a personal note, I feel honored by the friendships that I have developed over the past four years of working at the newspaper. In the newsroom I gained some of my best friends. So many of my favorite memories of college are from the newsroom, usually late at night and with a serving of stress and laughter.

This year, I was lucky enough to work with my best friend by my side, Austin Fleskes, as the managing editor. It felt like a dream at times or some sort of cheesy 1980s film (which I am a sucker for).

The script involved two best friends that meet during their first day on the job and start as nobodies before working their way up the corporate ladder at a city newspaper, breaking the big stories and running around with a camera and notebook, while having as many laughs as possible along the way, until they become the leaders of the very team they walked onto four years ago. How does life get any better than that?

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)

As the editor, I learned a lot of things. Always be kind and humble. Lend a hand as often as you can. Stay focused, but don’t forget to have some fun along the way. There are great people everywhere working to make a difference in someone else’s life, and they are the most valuable members of a community. 

I also had so many great memories working as a photographer and editor, getting to know so many wonderful people across campus and Fort Collins. You let me into your lives, and it was an extraordinary experience to be able to document it with a camera and share those stories in the newspaper.

Thank you for everything. To the readers of the paper and the critics, thank you for your support and for pushing us to become better on a daily basis. To my colleagues at student media, thank you for all that you did and for the opportunity of a lifetime. To my friends and family on staff of the best college newspaper on both sides of the Mississippi River, thank you for the hard work, laughter and friendship. 

Now, it’s time for me to ride off into the sunset. Or do whatever else happens at the end of a cheesy Western movie where the cowboy in the white hat says goodbye to the townsfolk and saddles up before going off into the wild blue yonder. 

That’s usually how those movies end, and since I’ve seen plenty of them and am rather fond of them, it’s alright with me if that’s how this movie ends.

So, thank you, again, for everything and for the memory of a lifetime. The Collegian was my home for four years. It was just like a loved one. I will miss it dearly and always remember all the late nights, early mornings, stressful deadlines and fun editing sessions. I’m leaving the newsroom with an experience that money could never buy, and it’s one that I will cherish until I trot off into the last sunset.

But before I ride off, I’ll leave you with two things: Live in the moment and enjoy the things you have, because you never know when you’ll lose them, and don’t forget to support your local newspaper. 

Happy trails, 

Forrest Czarnecki 

Outgoing editor in chief, The Rocky Mountain Collegian

Forrest Czarnecki was the editor in chief at The Rocky Mountain Collegian. He can no longer be reached at, but you can reach out to him on Twitter @forrestczar

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