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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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McWilliams: Thank you, Collegian: You gave me the home I needed

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

It’s a weird feeling to look back on my experience at The Collegian, knowing that the first time I walked into the newsroom, I didn’t see it the same way I do now. It’s weird to think that I would be a completely different person had I not made those steps four years ago.


When I started at Colorado State University, I didn’t have a place that felt like mine. There were so many times where I felt like I made the wrong decision coming here, with countless phone calls to my parents and friends asking them for guidance. My friend, already in college for a few years, told me bluntly that I needed to find a hobby.

I don’t remember my choice to start working for The Collegian, only the nervous text messages I sent to the then opinion editor asking what I needed to do to start. Within a week, I had attended my first meeting and written my first column, thinking that, maybe, this could be the home I was looking for.

the opinion desk gathers on the stump
The 2018-19 opinion desk. (Julia Trowbridge | The Collegian)

By my sophomore year, the opinion desk was one of my only constants. My life went through a lot of changes that year, a lot of people coming and going out of my life; regardless of what was happening, the weekly meetings of arguments, laughter and chaos were always there.

At the end of my sophomore year, the soon-to-be opinion editor, Jayla Hodge, asked me to apply to be her assistant editor. I said no, giving her some jumbled excuse about wanting to keep writing columns and loving where I was.

At the beginning of my junior year, the assistant editor Jayla had chosen had to leave, and I received a text that drastically changed my life for the better: “You can’t say no to me twice.”

From that moment on, I was a member of The Collegian’s editorial board.

My junior year will always be my favorite at CSU. The excitement and fun of working with such great people was something I hadn’t expected.

Even the little things, now, are some of my favorite memories. I remember getting out of class at 7 p.m. with then News Editor Natalia Sperry and walking to the newsroom, anticipating a long night and always stopping at Spoons for dinner. And, of course, it isn’t every day you get to work with a living legend and call her a friend like I did with Jayla.

I’m not lying when I say my interview for the opinion editor position was the worst one I’ve ever had. I mean, how could I respond when three of my friends asked me to tell them about myself after we’d spent countless hours cracking jokes, when they’d seen me at my most delirious, when we’d shown our worst and our best selves under those horrible fluorescent lights of the newsroom? Needless to say, it didn’t go well.


Above everything else, nothing will ever compare to spending hours with my opinion staff and the home they gave me at CSU.”

I remember the anxiety I felt for weeks leading up to their announcement of the editorial board; I’d never been more nervous in my life. At the same time, I spent hours each day dreaming about myself at the head of the conference room table, leading the desk that’d become my home.

After a Thursday meeting, I sat in the Skeller with then Editor-in-Chief Haley Candelario and Night Editor Gab Go, when I got a text from the recently announced EIC Forrest Czarnecki to come chat with him in the newsroom.

I still remember how cold my hands were and how hard my heart was pounding when I went into the office. Forrest was standing there with Jayla and the newly appointed Managing Editor Austin Fleskes, and the three of them told me I got the job. I can’t remember the last time I cried from excitement the way I did then.

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)

This year was, without a doubt, more than I anticipated. The purpose of my job shifted with a new goal, one that reader after reader told me they needed from this publication. It was my job to represent not only the various opinions of this campus, but the emotions and the voices of CSU’s students; it was my desk’s job to hold people, their actions and their responses accountable.

While it proved to be extremely difficult at times, I can say with full conviction that I did the best that I could.  

Working for The Collegian wouldn’t have been nearly as rewarding if I hadn’t worked with the people I did. The friendships I’ve made at this paper are some of the most genuine ones I’ve ever had, ones that I know will last long after I leave this organization. Even as I sit here, calling myself a writer and about to receive a diploma to prove it, I don’t know how to describe the moments that meant the most to me.

Nothing can compare to the nights spent in the conference room with the arts and culture director, Elena Waldman, and the news editor, Matt Bailey, laughing with tears in our eyes.

Nothing can compare to the drives home with Elena and soon-to-be EIC Lauryn Bolz after work or the times we spent with Haley, Gab and College Avenue EIC Meg Metzger-Seymour.

Nothing can compare to the long nights spent with my assistant editors, Abby Vander Graaff and Katrina Leibee; I’m beyond proud of you two and the great work you’ll do next year.

Above everything else, nothing will ever compare to spending hours with my opinion staff and the home they gave me at CSU.

Thank you to the readers, to the wonderful journalists I’ve worked with and to The Collegian. I always knew I’d have to say goodbye. I just didn’t think it would be this hard.

Your 2019-20 Collegian opinion editor,

Leta McWilliams

Leta McWilliams was the opinion editor of The Rocky Mountain Collegian. She can no longer be reached at, but you can still reach her on Twitter @LetaMcWilliams.

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