By Julie Pike, Editor-in-Chief

I’m sad to say that this is the last letter from the editor that I will write for the Free Press. It’s a hard reality for me to come to terms with, but my time at the paper has come to an end. These letters have given me an opportunity to speak to my fellow students and community and to grow as a writer. I will miss having the opportunity to write them each week.

Over my four years of college, I’ve encountered countless people who have helped me get to where I am now. While the list is too long to thank everyone, I want to take this opportunity to thank those closest to me.

First I’d like to thank Professor Dennis Gilbert, the Faculty Advisor for the Free Press. He has been an incredible mentor and supporter of mine throughout my time as editor. I feel so thankful to have had him by my side as I worked through navigating a difficult position. He’s been there for any questions I’ve had, whether it be with the paper, my school work or my personal life. Looking back on my time as editor, I can’t imagine not having Dennis there to help me. I hope every student at USM is able to find a mentor like him.

I’ve had the opportunity to take nearly all of Professor Dan Panici’s courses in communication and media studies. His courses have challenged me to think critically and has helped me become a better student. Dan has also helped support me through my work with the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program as my faculty mentor, extending his mentorship outside of the classroom. He’s also been a continuous supporter of the Free Press by serving on our Advisory Board and leading training workshops.

Speaking of the Advisory Board, the Free Press has had a handful of USM faculty and local journalists serving on our board providing the staff with helpful insights and tips to improve our paper. I’m incredibly thankful for the time the board has put in to helping the staff of the Free Press. I particularly want to thank Seth Koenig of Bangor Daily News, he’s been a dedicated member of the Advisory Board for a few years, has volunteered his time to run several training sessions for us, and has helped me in navigating a career in journalism. The expertise that Seth brings to the board has been immensely helpful.

It’s impossible not to include Lucille Sielger on this list. The Free Press would be lost without Lucille. She is always there to help us with whatever we need. I like to refer to Lucille as our “Office Mom,” she provides support to all of us however she can. I honestly don’t know what we would do with Lucille around.

At the Free Press I’ve also had an incredible team of dedicated student journalists to work with. It’s encouraging to me to see so many students interested in delivering news to their community. While students come and go on the paper, there’s been so many who have put in so much hard work into creating the weekly paper. For a time I was unsure of what the paper would be like after I left as editor, but I can say now that I’m certain the remaining editors will continue the same dedication they’ve put in this past year. I feel so honored to have gotten to work with an incredible team and wish them the best of luck going forward. Many of my colleagues at the paper have also become close friends of mine, as we often spend long hours together at the office, writing articles and laying out the paper. Being a part of the media is not always enjoyable, but my fellow staff members have continued to keep in good spirits and there’s always laughter filling the office while we work. I’ve worked with so many great students at the Free Press and I thank you all for your hard work, but in particular I want to mention Alyson, Lydia, Dionne, Asha, Cullen, Lauren, Kate, Berkeley, Zoe, Melissa and Dakota. I hope to stay close with all of you and I can’t wait to see your work at the Free Press continue.

Outside of those I’ve known at school and the Free Press, I’ve had the constant support of my mom and my dad. They’ve always been there for me whenever I’ve needed them. I wouldn’t be where I am today without my loving and supportive family. Both of them have been a shoulder to cry on when things got overwhelming and there to cheer me on in my accomplishments. Thank you both for everything you do.

When I was first deciding on where to go to college, USM was not my top choice. I’m from Gorham and I was expecting to go to school farther away from home. But I’m so happy with my choice. USM led me to work with so many great people and learn from amazing professors. Even at a smaller school, you can make the most out of your college experience and find success.

Congratulations to everyone graduating along with me next week and I wish you all the best of luck in your future endeavors.



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