The first encounter I ever had with The Minstrel was when I picked up an issue while visiting DeSales as a high school senior. One of the headlines on the front page, above the fold, merely read “Allergy Season.” “I often have a class or two each day where I probably sneeze around every 10-15 minutes and have to blow my nose after,” one student was quoted as saying. Truly riveting, Pulitzer-level journalism.
Perhaps I was cynical because I hated the prospect of coming to DeSales. My mom insisted I apply, but I dreamt of big-name universities, not secluded liberal arts colleges. I shrugged Mom off when she told me St. Francis de Sales was the patron saint of journalists. I ignored her insistence that she had a feeling I was “meant to be” at this college. But for a confluence of reasons, I ended up attending DeSales, of course, and I begrudgingly prepared myself to write for a student newspaper that seemed to have little to say outside the pollen count.
It turned out that wasn’t the case. At my frst Minstrel meeting freshman year (a year that was already going much better than I expected), I immediately felt welcomed and adopted into the group, and I saw the great direction the publication was going. Before long, I looked to Amanda Gilmore for the wisdom of a mentor. I laughed and discussed sports and politics with Dan Beck. I butted heads with Kate Bortz, and then I made up with and got along pretty swell with Kate Bortz. I watched smart, talented, good-hearted people make a ton of progress on this newspaper, and I attribute the largest portion to Kate, Dan and Amanda, our three most recent editors-in-chief. Their personal brands of leadership and forward thinking inspired me to make my own impact on The Minstrel as well.
As for this year, I still can’t take much of the credit for myself. Hutton Jackson has been a powerful voice in the arts and entertainment pages since we joined the paper together as freshmen, and we wouldn’t have the upgraded website we have today without his dedication. There’s nothing quite like the in-chief/layout editor relationship, and I’ll miss working with my layout guru, Lauren Trumbull, and her sass. If I had the space here to copy the entire recommendation letter I once wrote for Jaci Wendel, I would, but the sentence “To find a more well-rounded young woman than Jaci would be a difficult proposition” sticks out in my mind. (I’ll miss her laugh, too.)
Finally, there’s Kellie Dietrich, whom I’ve tapped to succeed me as editor-in-chief, and Will Edwards, who will be her right-hand man in the new position of managing editor. Kellie and Will have brought enthusiasm, top-tier writing and innovative ideas to the table since they joined us as freshmen, and I’m confident they can steer the ship next year. In summation, everyone on my editorial staff makes my job easier than it ought to be, and I count all of them as good friends.
I’ve written at length this year about how far this paper has come, so I’ll stop. Rather, Bulldogs, I’ll explain how far I’ve come as a person. The Minstrel has been my only constant in the last four years, and despite my happiness with DeSales, I experienced several low points. I considered transferring once when I was frustrated with the quality of some of my most important classes. I had trouble with several familial, romantic and friend relationships. I spent one particular semester drinking more frequently and more heavily than I ever thought I could. (Pro tip: Don’t do that. It makes things worse.)
But you know what? The rough times make the good times better. I wouldn’t be the man I am today without four years of academic, emotional and spiritual formation at DeSales, as well as the professional formation provided by The Minstrel.
If there’s one lesson from college that will stay with me, it’s simply that Mom was right. Moms have a certain way of knowing, and mine knew I was meant to come to DeSales. Maybe I was meant to be here to connect with some of my favorite professors – shout-outs to Professor McKnight, Dr. Schulz, Dr. Brett and Dr. Brown – or my other closest friends, especially Monica, Marielle, Maureen and my villa-mates. Maybe it was for the zigzagging path of internships and journalism opportunities I’ve bounced across. Maybe it was for a path that could lead me to the University of Maryland to study for a master’s in journalism later this year.
Whatever the reasons, this newspaper and this university were part of God’s plan for me, for sure.
Take care, DeSales,