Sarah Tewksbury, Editor-in-chief
With this letter, I write my last piece for the Free Press as the editor. At this point in time, I have decided that this is the perfect moment for me to take my leave as the leader of the paper. When I was elected to the position in April, I was an enthusiastic student journalist who thought that I had arrived. The whole world was at my fingertips and I had earned the power and respect to run the paper how I saw fit, make as many changes as necessary for the good of the paper, and to learn how to lead my peers through a rapid weekly schedule. When I was selected for the job, my predecessor gave me an award that stated I was the staff member who was “most likely to get s*** done and not care what anyone thought.” That was who I was, but it is not who I am today.
When I truly made the decision to take my leave as the editor, a great wave of relief washed over me. Since September, I have poured my entire being into the Free Press. The paper was a distraction and a coping mechanism for me. After a life altering experience during the second week of classes in the fall, I fell into a deep and ultimately therapeutic routine each week at the paper.
However, that event in the fall changed me. Though my face may look the same and I still power walk around campus in the same skirt from when I was elected editor, my mind and soul have been changed. I am wiser and more free now, which, it turns out, is both dangerous and thrilling for me and the people in my life. In September, I was assaulted. I’ve written about it before, in a letter I published in October. There is no flowery way to put how I was impacted by the trauma other than, for a little while, I was fallen.
But I was not defeated. Today I stand tall, with my head high and chin up. I am changed now. I am not the woman who was elected editor. I am stronger now. Though my own mental capacity extends only so far, I would not be writing this letter, on my way out as editor, without the extreme help and support from my staff and family at the Free Press.
Lucille, the woman who asked me whose ass to kick when she saw the bruise on my face, has never faltered from my side. Courage, determination, bravery, kindness and love have all poured out from this genuine angel. Without Lucille, I would not be where I am right now.
Johnna, the silliest managing editor the Free Press has ever seen, reminded me to laugh, to do it hard and sometimes fall on the floor because of it.
River reminded me what standing beside someone meant and always being there to listen, laugh and enjoy life with when necessary.
Dionne encouraged growth and understanding, humor and care. The resiliency of a friend that can instantaneously charm a smile onto my face.
Mary Ellen, the bright light in all of the darkness, showed me that when someone is down, the most simple act can bring that person back to earth and keep them pushing forward another day.
Lauren, the ridiculous and clever photography director, never failed to show me resilient compassion and generosity.
Orkhan, the most talented creative mind I believe I will ever meet, never failed to share sarcasm and a receptive attitude.
Maverick, the benevolent and compassionate hockey player turned staff writer, did not falter one single time when I needed someone to remind me I was not alone. How many times he said “it is okay not to be okay,” I cannot even count, but it kept me moving forward and alive.
Dennis, the brilliant, astute and wise faculty advisor, trusted in my process and did not shelter me from the work and challenge that being the editor held. A true mentor and friend, he exemplified all the good that there is to strive for in life. USM does not know the shining gem they have in Dennis, hidden among stagnant rocks in the faculty.
These people did for me what I have tried over and over to do for them. Their actions rippled back to me and reminded me of my worth. My time as editor of the Free Press will never be marked by the quality of the paper. Anyone who knows me well knows I place little value on much in life besides human connection. What good is a life, what good is my life, without being able to share it with others? Though I deeply enjoyed the work I did with the paper, what I value and appreciate the most is the people.
I spent the entire duration of my time as editor of this paper, barely getting through my days. All the energy I had was spent on the product of a weekly paper and the people who were putting it out. The Free Press saved me and in order to save the Free Press, I am leaving now. The woman elected editor last spring is not who is walking out of the house at 92 Bedford Street today. So picture me now my dear Free Press staff, looking at you the way Patrick Swayze looks Jennifer Grey at the end of Dirty Dancing when he mouths, “And I owe it all to you.”
I owe it all to you.