Stewart: The Collegian gave me a home that I never expected

Anna Stewart

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.

It fills me with immense sadness to say goodbye to the people that I’ve spent the past two years working with, laughing with and goofing off with. My years at The Collegian have gone by so quickly, yet they’ve taught me so much, and I’m leaving with memories I will never forget.

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When I first came to Colorado State University, I didn’t plan on joining any clubs or going to any student events. I came here to finish my degree in two years, and I had convinced myself there was nothing worth doing other than just getting in and out as fast as I could with no distractions.

Fortunately, this didn’t go according to plan. In my freshman year, one of my classes required that we join a student organization for at least a semester, and I ended up stumbling right into The Collegian’s door, absolutely terrified of what was to come.

Little did I know, it would turn into the best part of my college experience, and I would have missed it completely if I had so stubbornly decided to keep my head down.

people pose for photo on oval
Night Editor Anna Stewart and Design Editor Amy Noble pose for a photo Oct. 17, 2019. (Matt Tackett | The Collegian)

I came to The Collegian first as a volunteer copy editor. I had no experience in journalism, no experience with AP Style and minimal experience with editing. What I did have was an abundance of passion for grammar and writing mechanics. 

After a few months of volunteering, a position opened up to become a paid copy editor, which I eagerly took. Then, a year later, I took on the role of night editor, overseeing the whole copy desk. Management has really never been my forte. I hate confrontation and conflict in general, and I had no idea how I was going to find a brand new staff. But the second I sat down for the first production night with all of the new copy editors around me, I knew it was going to be alright.

What I’ve found about any job is that the people you’re surrounded by determine how good that job is, and the people at The Collegian made my job amazing. I can’t even begin to tell you how many long nights I spent in the newsroom, staring intensely at a page, scribbling editing notes only I could decipher for eight hours straight. It was hectic, it was tedious and it was downright stressful at times. But amid all that, I got to spend time with some of the most kind and hilarious people I’ve ever met, and those people are the reason it hurts so much to leave.

I’ve been reduced to tears from laughing so hard more times than I can count. I was fortunate to work with the incredible group of copy editors that I did, and I now consider them close friends. The community that formed on the copy desk in my year as the night editor was one that made me look forward to coming into work every night. 

I still vividly remember the night that I was struggling to breathe from laughing because the copy editors threatened to throw a coup due to the fact that I think Double Stuf Oreos are the superior Oreos (which they are). It still makes me smile thinking of our scheme to infiltrate the AP Stylebook offices to correct their clearly incorrect guidance on Oxford commas. And how could I forget the many nights we were concerned about people seeing our search histories as we edited and fact-checked Shay Rego’s sex columns? 

I implore you to just go out there and try something.You might end up meeting the best family you’ve ever had.”

It breaks my heart that I have to leave the amazing people that I got to know so well over this last year, and I only wish I could spend a little more time with them, but in another way, I’m hopeful. I’m hopeful because I’ve gotten the privilege to watch the copy editors grow over this year, and two of those phenomenal editors, Renee Ziel and Anna Schwabe, are now taking over the copy desk for the next year.

To say that I am thrilled would be an understatement. Making sure the copy desk would catch every single error before an article published was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done, but I couldn’t have done it without the wonderful team of copy editors who put in so many hours and so much dedication to make it possible. Which is why, now, as I’m leaving the copy desk and The Collegian, I don’t have a single doubt in my mind that next year’s copy desk, led by the two most incredible copy editors I’ve ever met, will far exceed what I was able to do, and for that, I can’t wait.

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And beyond just the copy editors, it’s going to be so very strange not to see the rest of the ed board and the newsroom almost daily anymore. When I say that the newsroom was like a second home to me, I mean it. In all honesty, I probably spent more time in the newsroom in my last year than I did at my actual home, but I wouldn’t have changed a thing. 

There’s a quote from “The Office” that has been sticking in my mind lately: “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.” And largely, I think this is true. Reflecting back on my time at The Collegian now fills me with happiness for the memories I made and sadness for having to leave. But at the same time, I think I knew, even when I was in the middle of making those memories, that this group of people and the memories I made here would be ones that stuck with me for life.

So if you’re like I was, determined to get through college with your head down, I implore you to just go out there and try something.

You might end up meeting the best family you’ve ever had. 

Your 2019-20 Collegian night editor,

Anna Stewart

Anna Stewart was the night editor of The Rocky Mountain Collegian. She can no longer be reached at copy@collegian.com, but you can reach out to her on Twitter @MoesyStewart.