Three and a half years later, I have a lot to be thankful for.

To reflect and write of such joys during this difficult time juxtaposes itself. I am elated to be finishing an exuberant and rewarding chapter of my life, but it’s paired alongside one of the darkest times our world has seen. But even during the darkest of nights, Jesus still shines bright. I will cling to that truth and praise him for where he has brought me and where he will take me. 

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” —John 1:5

Ruby McAuliffe captured by Shiany Maldonado.

My APU story

Three and a half years ago I was a high school senior who didn’t know where I wanted to go to college. But I did know where I didn’t want to attend: APU. That wasn’t because APU was or is anything short of great, but my dad had attended APU 20 years prior, and I only lived five cities away from the campus. Afterall, I was an eager high school graduate ready to get out of the small city I had been in for the past 18 years of my life. But my parents, being their we-only-have-one-child selves, insisted I toured the campus — I am so grateful for their suggestion.Ruby McAuliffe and her graduation cap captured by Shiany Maldonado.

I instantly fell in love with the brick red and black, the bustling Cougar Walk and the sweet sounds of chapel. While I was metaphorically walking through the darkness as I tried to figure out which university was right for me, God shined his light on APU.

With APU secured, I was ready. But one question haunted me for weeks: “What will I major in?” The answer to this question would outline my future. It would define the next few years. Overwhelmed by the many possibilities, I left that decision undecided until I miraculously stumbled into a presentation. 

I say miraculously because I had no reason for strolling into a Darling classroom, where communication professors spoke on each major. As I sat down curiously, Professor Jim Willis, a former APU journalism professor, walked to the front of the room. He talked about the evolving media industry, the importance of writing and the accomplishments of past and present APU students. I was drawn in, and as I sat in the back of the classroom in a grey puffy desk chair, I knew journalism was for me. When I was blindly wandering, God placed what was meant for me right at my fingertips. 

Ruby McAuliffe captured by Shiany Maldonado.

The decision to major in journalism filled my three and a half years at APU with such happiness. From my 10 person classes filled with all of my friends, to even my 7:40 a.m. class, my experience was beneficial and exciting. And the story kept getting sweeter.

During the second semester of my freshman year, I took an editing class with a former APU professor, Professor Sherer. I discovered my once desire to go into broadcast journalism was triumphed by a love for editing and written work. Professor Sherer saw this newfound passion, and I was extended the opportunity to become a copy editor for ZU News. I landed the position within the newly established ZU Media, and I had no one else to thank but Jesus. With his constant direction, it was exactly where I needed to be. 

Once in ZU Media, I quickly found my place. With the large wall screen, the highly-developed computers and the state of the art technology, all I wanted to do was be in the media room. I was eager to learn all that the program had to offer, and I was determined to grow. Watching those around me quickly create content, put creativity at the forefront and run the show invigorated me. I noticed each individual in that room was determined to put themselves out there. I decided I would do the same, and I set a goal for myself — one day I would become the editor-in-chief of ZU News.

Ruby McAuliffe captured by Shiany Maldonado.

With this goal in mind, I put everything I had into ZU Media. As the years went by, my skills and my passion grew stronger. My copy editor position for ZU News transformed into a managing editor role for ZU Magazine, and then, my senior year of college, I became the editor-in-chief for ZU News. My goal was met. But my goal wasn’t met through my own grit. It came to fruition through God’s provision.  

At the beginning of my APU story, I didn’t know where my endeavors would take me, but it’s safe to say I never imagined leading a dynamic group of journalists. But this came as no surprise to God, as it was Him who took me from one step to the next. Now, I find myself graduating in only a few days. While I didn’t think I would be writing a farewell letter while sitting in my childhood bedroom back at my parents’ home, here I am. And while I wish I could say I know what comes next, I don’t. But that’s okay. Because if Jesus made a way through these past three and a half years, he will do it again. Thank you, Jesus, for being my guiding light through it all.Ruby McAuliffe captured by Shiany Maldonado.

Thank you’s

Mom and dad, 

I know I write you off as overprotective, but you have both always had my best interest in mind. I couldn’t have done these three and a half years without you. During the freshman blues, the achievements, the dead week breakdowns, and the successes, you were always there with a facetime call, text message, or with a drive over to my apartment to physically meet me at my door. Thank you, mom and dad, for always being by my side. I love you!

Ruby McAuliffe and her parents captured by Shiany Maldonado.


Thank you for creating ZU Media three years ago. Without spearheading what you knew what could be, none of us journalism students would be where we are today. Thank you for always advocating for me and for ZU Media as a whole. I never questioned if you were on my side. But most importantly, thank you for your friendship and leadership, Kent. 

Professor Anderson,

Thank you for showing me what an accomplished, passionate and Jesus-loving woman looks like! Within each class I had with you, you reinforced your identity and mission, and because of that, I look up to you. I also appreciate you for celebrating me in every way you could during these unprecedented times. From the standing ovation and the email threads to the handwritten note, thank you, Professor Anderson.


Thank you for taking me across the world with 11 other students. Traveling to Spain is one of my most cherished college memories, and that was made possible because of you and your family. I also thank you for your friendship and encouragement during my time at APU. I knew I always had a supporter in you. Thank you, Ismael.    

Ruby McAuliffe captured by Shiany Maldonado.

Professor Willis,

Without knowing, you used your gift and passion for journalism to impact my life. As I strolled into a presentation about journalism, you showed me the beauty of storytelling. I would soon sit in your classroom and be forever grateful for your on-field reporting stories and your reminder to always seek the human element. Thank you, Professor Willis.

My amazing staff,

Kelsey, Jasmine, Jordan, Cora, Brandon, Kane, and Joelene, Thank you. Kelsey, you have shown up for me since day one (like that time we ran to Taco King to grab green Chili burritos at 10 p.m. because I was hungry). Jasmine, you never cease to amaze me with your quick turn-arounds (like that time you wrote the RBG story before what seemed the world even knew). Jordan, your energy is unmatched and you bring such joy to the newsroom (like that time you started clapping and woo-ing randomly during our meeting). Cora, your sweet spirit extends friendship to all (like that time we were in multimedia and design and you decided you wanted to be my friend). Brandon, your go-getter attitude is a testament to the good work you produce (like that time you took it upon yourself to report on those live, wild election updates). Kane, your determination  to learn all you can motivates others and me (like that time you invited me onto your podcast and were genuinely curious about the writing process). Joelene, your attention to detail goes beyond copy editing, and I see that (plus, you always make sure to catch those oxford commas). Thank you to each one of you, because ZU News wouldn’t run without you guys.

Ruby McAuliffe and her achievements captured by Shiany Maldonado.

God was my guiding light through it all, but during the process, he placed unforgettable relationships in my path. Because of the Lord and the beautiful connections made, I will forever cherish my years at APU. Thank you, APU. Here’s to the class of 2020!