Cooke: The Collegian is a home for aspirational students

Cody+Cooke%2C+the+fall+2021+opinion+director+for+The+Collegian.+%28Cat+Blouch+%7C+The+Collegian%29

Collegian | Cat Blouch

Cody Cooke, the fall 2021 opinion director for The Collegian. (Cat Blouch | The Collegian)

Cody Cooke, Opinion Director

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.

I joined The Collegian’s opinion desk in December 2019 knowing absolutely nothing about writing for a newspaper besides the fact that I wanted to do it.

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I didn’t know what to expect, but I was surprised when I showed up to my first meeting in the newsroom to find a table full of students just like me ricocheting ideas off one another. I quickly and pleasantly realized I had found a place where anyone with something to say can have their voice heard.

Leta McWilliams, the opinion director when I joined the desk, taught me the basics of column writing and pushed me to write about things that mattered to me. I’d never been published before, and writing for a college audience wasn’t second nature for me. I thought, “College students care about Karl Marx, right?”

Writing and working for The Collegian has helped me feel like I’m part of this community, and it’s connected me to CSU and Fort Collins in ways I never anticipated.”

It took some practice and a few missteps along the way — like when I unwisely suggested students should focus on schoolwork over spring break in March 2020 when COVID-19 was about to totally redefine college life — but with support from McWilliams and the rest of the opinion desk, I grew into this kind of writing.

The desk’s next director, Katrina Leibee, who is currently The Collegian’s brilliant and outstanding editor in chief, helped me develop into the writer I am today. She pushed me to look deep into Fort Collins and Colorado State University for things to write about, encouraging me to spread out and find inspiration in the people and places of Northern Colorado.

Having moved from Louisiana to Colorado in 2018, I always felt like somewhat of an outsider looking in, like a visitor in other people’s town. Writing and working for The Collegian has helped me feel like I’m part of this community, and it’s connected me to CSU and Fort Collins in ways I never anticipated.

That’s the beauty of The Collegian, in my opinion. It’s an amazing opportunity for aspiring students, true, but at the same time it’s an aspiration unto itself. This vibrant, sophisticated and versatile publication that works endlessly to highlight our city and our University is a thriving example of strong local journalism, and I’m proud to have contributed to it for the past two years.

Other than a reason to brag about my job, The Collegian has also left me with more ideas and possibilities for the future than I ever thought I would have. Strangely enough, I’m not even a journalism student — I’m a double major in English and history. Other English majors might understand the feeling of being asked what you want to do with your degree and not having a solid (or exciting) answer.

The Collegian is a home for students who might not know exactly what they want to do but know they want to do something that makes a difference.”

Writing for The Collegian, however, has given me that answer. My time at the newspaper has helped me find and focus on issues that matter, and this has shaped the kind of writer that I hope to become. For example, the opinion desk’s climate column and my contributions to it reflect my own growing obsession with environmental issues as well as a concern for climate change shared by The Collegian’s writers and readers.

I can’t talk about the opinion desk’s accomplishments without giving credit to my awesome colleagues and friends. Of course, Leibee deserves recognition not only for pushing me to be opinion director but also for showing me what an effective and likable leader looks like.

My thanks also goes out to my wonderful editor and coworker, Bella Eckburg, who will become the desk’s next director. None of the amazing content that the desk put out this semester could have happened without her, and I’m more than confident that she will keep the good work going when I’m gone.

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I wish I had enough space to thank every single person who made The Collegian such a spectacular newspaper because each and every one of you deserves to be recognized for what you’ve achieved.

I guess I’ll end by talking to the kind of student I was when I started this journey. The Collegian is a home for students who might not know exactly what they want to do but know they want to do something that makes a difference. It became a home for me, and it can be one for you too.

Cody Cooke was the opinion director of The Rocky Mountain Collegian. He can no longer be reached at letters@collegian.com, but you can reach out to him on Twitter @CodyCooke17.