A lot’s happened in four years

Unlike a lot of college students, I knew exactly what I wanted to do when I arrived at Azusa Pacific my freshman year. I had worked for my high school newspaper, Hoofprints, all four years and I was excited to demonstrate my skills for APU’s newspaper, The Clause

I met the editor-in-chief at the time, Regina Ender, and she gave me the opportunity to start writing as a freshman. I remember how shocked she was, as was the rest of the editorial staff, that I volunteered to take two stories my first week as a staff writer. 

No one took more than one story a week—for good reason. Stories take a lot of time and effort to write, and busy college students don’t have an abundance of either to spare for extra stories. Fortunately, I was a freshman without a job, so I was able to handle those stories and many more in the weeks that followed.

Although I was only a freshman, I made great friends with many upperclassmen in the journalism department. My sports editor, Brandon Rodriguez, showed me the ropes of covering collegiate sports. My news editor, Erika Hunt, showed me the details to look for when covering newsworthy events. My opinion editor, Sharon Lee, showed me how to integrate my opinions in a well-thought argument. And my lifestyle editor, Jamie Roebuck-Joseph, taught me what to include and not include in great reviews.

The Clause Staff in spring 2017. Photo courtesy of Nathan Foster.

After 16 stories and a lot of real world learning, I was hired on as the opinion editor during my second semester freshman year. Although op-eds were never my cup of tea, I tried to make the section as intriguing and informative as possible. I have a lot of fond memories from freshman year, including staying up until 3 a.m almost every Monday night to put the newspaper together, among other things.

I moved to serving as the news editor during my sophomore year and helped student media transition from four separate outlets to one convergent organization, ZU Media. The Clause became ZU News and we went from releasing stories days after an event happened to just hours after. Our office also thankfully moved from a tiny, sweltering room where Starbucks is now located on East Campus to the back of Darling. We grew in numbers and the quality of content we produced grew in turn.

The 2017-18 ZU News Staff. Photo courtesy of Emily Praske.

Then I left for a semester in New York City, where I interned at Newsweek, and learned from professional journalists in the capital of journalism. It was an amazing experience and I returned to APU with lots of ideas for how to improve ZU News.

However, when I got back, many things had changed. We had moved into the new Convergent Media Center; our stories had garnered national attention in the fall; and the school was vastly different after all the handbook changes. Nonetheless, I was excited as I began my role as editor-in-chief, a position I had been dreaming of for years. 

It’s hard to believe it’s already been a year and a half since then, let alone four years since college began. I watched as many students took the ZU Media workshop for the first time and improved their writing tremendously in just months. We increased our output, story quality, and production pace dramatically. Then we did it again last fall and again this spring. 

Then COVID-19 struck and everything changed. We were sent home and I, along with countless other seniors, saw our dream ending of our collegiate career disappear. While it was an abrupt transition, my staff and all the students in the workshop picked up right where we left off. It’s a bummer constantly reporting bad news about the coronavirus, but I am extremely proud of all my writers and how they responded to the situation.

This is not the ending I anticipated, not at all. However, I am eternally grateful for all the memories from my time at ZU News. I’ve written more than 100 stories, interviewed hundreds of students and faculty, made many lifelong friends, and helped create a brand that will keep growing long after I’m gone. 

The newspaper is quite different than when I first started writing for it four years ago, as is APU itself. I’ve watched as countless friends graduated and moved on into the real world. Now, it’s my time to do the same. 

The ZU News Staff in fall 2017. Photo courtesy of Nathan Foster.

Before I go, there are some people I’d like to thank.

First, Kent Walls, assistant professor of journalism and lead advisor of integrated student media, thank you for inspiring me to pursue my dreams and for pushing me out of my comfort zone in Digital News Gathering. You gave me the opportunity to work for ZU News and have set a fantastic example to follow. Thank you for being the best role model I could ask for.

Second, Regina Ender, Sharon Lee and Jamie Roebuck-Joseph, thank you for showing me what a great editor-in-chief looks like. I owe so much of my growth and editing skills to you. The Clause/ZU News was your baby before it was mine and I tried to take good care of it before passing it along to the incoming EIC. 

Third, Brandon Rodriguez, thank you for demonstrating an unparalleled work ethic and dedication to your job. I would not be the sports journalist I am today without learning from you. I worked three jobs and more than 50 hours a week for most of the past year and I still think I slept more than you. 

Fourth, Jessica Sherer, Ismael Medel, Allison Oster, Courtney Davis and my other journalism/PR faculty, I learned so much in all of your classes. I was never a great student in high school because most of the subjects didn’t interest me, but I loved going to all of your classes and I know I’ll continue to use what I’ve learned from you in my career.

Finally, to my staff, thank you all. I could not have done it without your help. You guys don’t make my job easy all the time, but you make it a lot more enjoyable. Anna Savchenko, you are the best writer I know and I love how much you care about helping your writers improve. APU is lucky to have you for another year. Brenda Covarrubias, you’re the only person I’ve met at APU who writes as much as me. I definitely thought you were going to break my record of the most stories—and I would have been proud if you did. You’ve done so much for ZU News in the past two years alone. I wish you would have been on staff earlier. Jasmine Campos, you write killer op-eds. You never cease to amaze me with your political opinions and your ability to defend them. You’re going to be a great EIC someday. Brendan Fretwell and Jordan Green, you guys literally anchored the sports section for over a year. I always had fun talking sports with you and I’m excited to keep up with your stories. Ruby McAuliffe, you were a fantastic copy editor, and I know you’re going to be an even better EIC. Just don’t play too much Taylor on production nights. Joelene Milan, I’m glad that you told me about your interest in being an editor that one day at Mexicali, we were lucky to have you. Charissa Enns, you brightened every one’s day with your smile and personality. I’m so happy you got to go to New York too. 

I’m excited to keep up with ZU News stories in the future. I know it’s in good hands.