In college, we all have that special space on campus that feels more like home than our tiny dorm rooms or deteriorating houses. It’s a lot of different places for a lot of different students. For me, it’s Student Publications.
In high school, I was so determined to one day land a coveted spot on the College Heights Herald staff that I filled a binder with tacky, carefully cut out magazine designs sealed in plastic sleeves, and I mailed them off to campus. I spent the summer before freshman year spamming the editor-in-chief's email. When I arrived on campus for M.A.S.T.E.R. Plan, I was in luck; a page designer had quit at the last minute, and they needed someone to fill in.
I leaped into the air, pumping my fists and screaming the news. I called my parents. I cried a little.
From then on, Student Publications has taught me so much about journalism, design and leadership. But more importantly, it gave me the most incredible people and memories of my college experience.
Because of Student Publications, I live with the two best roommates in the world in the best — if kind of sketchy — house in the world. We call our house Pocolo because we are weirdos. We host a fake reality cooking show in our grimy kitchen.
I gained a “squad” at the Herald at a time when I needed a family to lean on. We hung out every weekend, and we went through some amazing and tough times together.
I found a best friend who will always get Starbucks with me and chow down at El Maz when we have bad days. When she found out I got an internship, she ran out to Baskin-Robbins and bought me an ice cream cake.
There’s more: the homemade Kelly Clarkson card I received one year when I spent a birthday in a budgeting meeting; the semester when a group of Herald editors made up a sport where you aggressively hit balloons around while listening to Katy Perry and Destiny’s Child; the trip to the Talisman’s Canadian printer and college media conferences in New York, Philadelphia and Chicago.
I’ve learned something from every editor, adviser and staffer I have worked with over the years at both the Herald and the Talisman. Working with such talented and dedicated people has been such an honor, and it has truly helped shape me as a student, journalist and person.
With budget cuts becoming an annual tradition at WKU, I think it’s important to realize how important spaces like Student Publications are for students and the community. No, the work we do is not directly related to STEM, and who knows if it will help with performance-based funding.
But I know the memories I am taking away from Student Publications are ones that will stay with me the rest of my life. There is no limit to the value of Student Publications, and that fact makes its worth difficult to track. You could look at the top newspapers and media properties that hire our alumni, or you could look at all the awards both publications have won over the years.
But you don’t have to look that far. You can step foot in our office and see the happy, powerful family we have and know the value. You can look at our work and understand the importance. The true value of the Student Publications experience is the family you gain — one that will support you when you succeed, help you up when you fail spectacularly and always be a shoulder to cry on.
So thank you, Student Publications, for being the best home this weird, nerdy, queer student could ever ask for. I’m forever grateful.