The end of another school year is upon us, and it’s in this moment that I usually would be headed back home, ready to leave behind the USM campus. During my first two years at USM, going to classes had felt like a job to me. I had a hard time justifying the importance of college based off the classes I was being required to take—math being one of them. I hadn’t found a passion in life, or even thought of a hobby I could immerse myself in. I was a confused college kid, unable to understand why the jobs that paid so well were jobs I couldn’t express my creativity in. I was stuck in one of society’s hellish loopholes, and just wanted to find a way into a career that would not only allow me to be myself, but to be a part of something bigger. And then I found the Free Press.
There is something special about finding your niche in life. Everyone finds it, sooner or later, nestled under the acceptance we have all felt, at one time or another, we didn’t deserve. My years at the Free Press have taught me so much—and I’ve often expressed my love for my student newspaper in past columns. But this one is different. This is the end of another year for me, and I’m left reminiscing about the past year.
I’ve made friends here at the Free Press that I may have never run into outside the office. In many ways, we’re different from one another: We have different career goals, different tastes in music, differing views on political issues, and a whole list of things that make us unique human beings.
But yet, we all share this desire to create work—from photography, to graphic design, to writing —that we want to show the world. We want to make a difference, even if it is just a small ripple in the pool of successes by the human race. We want nothing more than to make new friends and put out a product each week that others can see we’ve worked so hard on.
The office has become our shared space. A place where everyone is welcome, where coffee and bagels are brought in periodically to save us some bucks, and computers sometimes go slower than syrup. I have fond memories of my staff, remembering moments where I watched their personalities blossom and my perspective on them morph. I have learned from each of them what it means to be a leader, and what it means to be a friend.
Hannah Lyon is our Design Director. She has an eye for graphic design that I have never seen before. As a busy college student, creating the design of our paper can be a demanding job. From last minute graphics, to advertisement resizing, to dealing with my strong and unnecessary desire to stretch photos to fit the empty space in InDesign, she has a patience beyond my own and excels well in her academics. She is a great addition to the team, and without her, I would be very lost. She is always working on assignments with all the creativity she has in her, and it shows in her final products. She often creates graphics with information that sum up the topic sometimes better than my own articles can. She is always willing to try new things as well. And she loves Marvel movies. One day, I bet I’ll see Hannah’s graphic design in big name magazines, places where her creativity can shine its brightest, because that’s certainly what it deserves.
Zach Searles is our News Editor. When he first walked into the office at the end of Spring 2015, I wasn’t sure what to make of him. Seemingly shy, I expected a quiet and concise individual who would do well in a leadership role. And I was sort of right: Zach is quiet, but only in the interview process (which turns out, wasn’t even an interview process—I sort of just said it was his on accident, which of course, I don’t regret). He’s a calm intellectual. Zach doesn’t have to say a lot to get his point across. He’s very well read and loves literature of all kinds.
He likes movies directed by Quentin Tarantino, and was vegan but just somehow isn’t anymore. He hates cats because they make him sneeze. He loves being sarcastic and that’s what makes him our Zach. For our first semester working together, he was quiet about his opinion sometimes, but now, he respectfully challenges me. It’s nice to have someone else in the office who directly questions my decisions without fear of discipline. He doesn’t take advantage of it, but he’s very insightful. I know one day he will travel, get out of congested Portland, see what else the world has to offer.
Dora Thompson is our Arts & Culture Editor. My memories of Dora are mixed. From the start, I knew Dora was fantastic with description in her writing. She has the ability to set a scene for the reader, to really describe what she is looking at and experiencing. Many of her stories capture emotions in those moments.
Not to mention, Dora is erratic, but in a beautiful and unique way. She often seems to have the worst of luck—flat tire one day, broken laptop in a freak accident, towed car for parking in a no-parking spot—yet she pushes through it. Although she talks about it, she does so in a funny way. She is sociable and kind to everyone she meets. She is a friend that takes time to understand as a person, but once you do, you’ll wonder how you didn’t meet her earlier. Dora is spunky, trendy with her fashion and so understanding. She perfectly fits the role of an Arts Editor in Portland. One day, I know Dora will own her own cute little restaurant in a house with her sister, a fixer upper that they decide to paint pink. And when she does so, I hope to stop in every once in awhile and chat about the struggles of life.
Nick Beauchesne is our Sports Editor. When I first started interviewing people for our editor team as the new editor-in-chief, I remember Nick sauntering into the office with a long sleeve button-up shirt. He looked professional, as he typically does when he comes into the office (not mentioning the stressful days he walks into the office in his silly sweatpants—that’s when I know that he really is going through a stressful situation).
He was willing to take back our sports section, which had been removed last year, and form it into something we could be proud of. Nick isn’t necessarily shy, he just seems to open up to individuals only when he’s sure they are willing to listen—and in exchange, Nick is a great listener. His smile can evoke one in others, in strangers passing by. He has a kindness about him that emanates from his being. After coming back to college at 30, we sometimes call him “Papa Beauchesne.” He’s always looking out for us and always willing to help, even though he’s been through his fair share of struggles. I’ve seen him work so hard over the short time I’ve known him, and I imagine one day I’ll be seeing Nick as a sports anchor on TV one day.
Bradford is our Multimedia Editor. Although he’s just recently taken on this position, he’s always been around, coming to meetings as a writer when he didn’t have to, taking on extra assignments for absolutely no pay. His ridiculous humor has had me laughing harder then I have in a while. He has an awesome and diverse taste in music. Works hard for what he wants, and loves Drake. He is both shy and outgoing. Introvert and extrovert. He’s on the path to a career in photography that I’m sure he’ll excel in. His photographs are often shot from interesting perspectives, and from his images he has changed my perspective. Boring subject matter doesn’t stop Bradford. He’s willing to be creative, regardless of the assignment. Bradford will be travelling to New Zealand for the fall semester, to a place where he can continue to learn and grow in life, and until his return, I will miss his uplifting hellos and his high fives after production days.
Tom Fitzgerald is our Community Editor and is graduating soon. He reminded me of what would be a “star-pupil” in the college classroom. He worked so hard throughout the semester, starting as our intern then taking on the much needed position of Community Editor. Like the others, he started off shy, an obedient product of society that I wasn’t sure I’d be able to crack. But Tom is funny. He often cracks jokes so subtle that only those truly listening may notice. He’s smart, with varying interests both inside and outside of USM. As a graduate this year, I am sad we couldn’t have more time together. But I’m sure I speak for everyone on the team when I say congratulations on this big life event. It’s what we all are here for anyway, the trial and error phase before the real adult world, where bills are due and jobs become a lifestyle. Come back and visit if you want, Tom. We’ll always have free pizza for you on Saturdays.
Meaghan Gonsior is one of our most dedicated staff writers and will be our Web Editor next semester. She has gone above and beyond to take on the demanding article series called ‘Students of USM,” where she has to find strangers on campus, people she has never interacted with, and do stories on their experiences as a student and member of society. Never once has she complained about it, as I’ve seen her bravely approach strangers for other media projects in a way that is both uninvasive and kind. When she’s not with her husband and children and friends, excelling in her academics, and doing extra work at the Free Press, like writing another article and taking photos on top of her already demanding role, she is a supreme example of a hardworking student. She has a warming personality and positive attitude that I know will propel her easily into the career in journalism she wants to pursue.
Here is the interesting thing about what I’ve said about my staff: I have only breached the surface of their personalities. Our greatest bonding moments happened during our journalism conference trip to NYC in March. When all of us visited the 911 memorial, we all shared a moment of silence. We hurt for the people who had been lost, because we know they had been human like us. They had once had big dreams, had families and friends that cared for them, memories and moments accumulated now in a marble memorial around a waterfall. It was emotional, and I remember peering at each of my peers and thinking, ‘these were people just like my staff members. People I care about, that I know and respect. Those lost in this tragedy went too soon.”
My staff has taught me more about myself than I may have taught them. They taught me kindness, patience, and understanding. I’ve been told I wear my boss hat a little too often, and the realization of that has allowed me to cool down a little, to remember that such a leadership role isn’t a title won all on its own. My position at the Free Press is equally as important as the others. We work as a team, our creative outlets coming together for this short time in our young lives. We are, in some moments, one.
And to all those other staff members I didn’t mention by name, don’t think they are any less than to us either: Colin, Julie, Erin, Bryer, Raquel, Candice, Orkhan, Abigail, Sokkha, Patrick, Amanda, Matt, Jimmy and so many others. These are the people behind the scenes, the ones who make the news of USM come to life through their own creative expressions. Taking photographs, learning design, editing our work when we need it desperately (Cara DeRose, a special shout out for your awesome AP skills). Together, we are ending another year at USM, but next semester, we will begin again.
Our team will stay strong. Some will move on and others will take new positions, but they can never lose their place here. That’s the beauty of the Free Press. The characters are constantly changing, as they do in life, but the memories are seen in the history, in the stacks of newspapers huddled in corners, in the left-behind stories stuffed into desktops. Quoting from a poem I found in a desk the first day on the job, I will end this sappy semester piece with the words of an unknown author at the Free Press, who left behind a legacy of work that will seemingly go thankless. But it is here we are learning, preparing for a future where our most important words will really be seen by the world:
“We are the wanna-be dreamers, sitting at the speed of three cups a coffee each day… pointing to places on the globe where we want to travel – we write on scraps of paper only to be stuffed into desk drawers that are forgotten.. but one day we will flourish, far beyond even our own expectations.”