Jessica Larkins, editor-in-chief
I always smile when I think back to my first week at The Daily Nebraskan.
Three years ago, I was a wide-eyed reporter who felt like I knew everything I could ever hope to know about journalism since I had just completed my first reporting class the semester before.
Shockingly, I didn’t know everything, and even more surprisingly, I still don’t.
When I first came to the newsroom, I thought I’d learn how to be a journalist. What I didn’t realize was I would gain so much more.
The Daily Nebraskan taught me leadership, patience and above all, what it means to work hard.
I’ve grown so much from that naive reporter who first journeyed to the basement of the Nebraska Union. But I’ve also gained something I never expected: friends who made the long nights and stressful deadlines bearable.
I’m thankful for the people I’ve met along the way. I’m thankful to Chris Bowling, my first editor who taught me what it really means to be a journalist. I’m thankful for Ben Larsen, who was the best managing editor a girl could hope for, and I’m thankful for every member of The DN staff, who worked hard to make the publication the best that it could be.
More than anything, my time at The Daily Nebraskan defined my college experience. I can’t believe it’s already time to say goodbye. I wish I could go back in time and tell the younger version of myself walking into The DN for the first time to slow down, don’t wish for time to go faster and enjoy every moment, even the more difficult ones.
Because one day, it’ll be all over, and she’ll only have the wonderful memories to look back on.
Ben Larsen, managing editor
“Bittersweet” would be the best word to describe this moment.
I lament the conclusion of three years’ work, arriving as an outspoken ideologue and departing as one of the newsroom’s elder statesmen.
I’ll surely reminisce about what was, thus far, the most chaotic and rewarding experience of my life for years, if not decades to come.
I will miss the late night edits and early morning paper routes, negotiating with reporters and churning out breaking news.
However, I’m proud of what this newspaper accomplished this year, including attracting new readers while maintaining our dedication to quality and pursuing a Title IX investigation other newsrooms might have been too afraid to touch.
Above all else, I’ll miss the people. The Daily Nebraskan is an eclectic, boisterous crew. They’re also some of the most dedicated, kind and overall exemplary individuals I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.
Among this crowd are those who had an outsized influence on my brief foray into journalism. I especially wish to thank Matthew Server, who helped hire a bored political junkie that previously voted against Daily Nebraskan funding and offered a model of empathetic leadership I’ve tried – and often failed – to emulate. And of course, our intrepid and fearless leader, Jessica Larkins, who steered the ship away from the breakers countless times and who patiently dealt with me more times than that.
It seems strange to say that my journalistic endeavors have concluded, but I’m greatly looking forward to the beginning of new adventures, whatever those may be. If I were to leave a legacy at The Daily Nebraskan, I hope it would be this: that subsequent leaders can improve on my successes and learn from my mistakes.
Take care, keep in touch and continue to send me your best memes.
Elizabeth Rembert, senior news editor
I think it’s impossible to separate my college experience and the person I am today from my four years at The Daily Nebraskan. The things I’ve learned and the maturity I’ve developed all feel touched by the responsibilities and passion The Daily Nebraskan has given me.
The responsibilities have had different levels. I started as a freshman reporter writing about roommates who dared each other to wear shorts all winter and I ended leading a team of reporters as senior news editor, writing about Trump rallies and a Title IX investigation.
The passion has come in waves, too.
There were times when I missed deadlines because I couldn’t find the motivation to write, and then there were other times when I cried over stories or spent 30 minutes deciding between two synonyms because every word needed to be perfect to tell someone’s story.
I’ve learned so many qualities from The Daily Nebraskan — trust, leadership, patience, acceptance, grit, empathy, fairness … it’s like a Mad-Libs of character development.
Those qualities came from long nights in the newsroom, dropped stories, exhaustion and disappointments. But they also came from seeing a new reporter’s eagerness to learn, a thank-you note from a source and appreciation from readers.
I’ll reiterate what every senior leaving The Daily Nebraskan has ever said: I’ll miss this difficult, frustrating job that’s given me so much.
I’ll miss Ben Larsen asking the newsroom if he should get Subway or Wendy’s every single night. I’ll miss the camaraderie and the newsroom-wide polls: Is chicken noodle soup trash? Should you put ranch on pizza?
More than anything, I’ll miss the newsroom’s passion. John Grinvalds, Mia Everding, Jessica Larkins, Ben Larsen: your talent and dedication as editors and writers has powered the year. The hard work my reporters have put in and the growth I’ve seen has made everything worth it.
The Daily Nebraskan has made me the journalist I am today and it’s given me the foundation for the journalist I want to become. I hope you feel that it’s given you something too, whether that’s a discovery about something on campus, a question for your university or just a conversation starter.
Noah Johnson, senior sports editor
I’ve written hundreds of stories for this paper since I started as a freshman back in 2015, so jotting down a couple hundred words about the profound impact The Daily Nebraskan has had on me should be a walk in the park.
There aren’t really words that I can think of to summarize my time here. It truly changed the course of my life and kickstarted my passion for journalism. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute I spent at The DN, even the sometimes dull student government meetings I covered as a news reporter.
I met some incredible people that will leave a lasting impact on my life. Whether it be my first editors who somehow sat through my abysmal first stories to all of the writers and editors whom I’ve had the pleasure to work with over the past four years.
This place is special. Every person saying goodbye in this article will echo the same sentiment. Don’t just take my word for it, though. Take a second to read through today’s stories and see for yourself the excellent work of each and every student who works here.
Sam Crisler, co-senior culture editor
This last semester has been the most difficult of my college career, but I realized around February that The Daily Nebraskan had become my safe haven. Coming to work had become one of the least stressful parts of the day.
And though there are plenty of stressors that face me every day in the dingy newsroom in the basement of the Union — namely, stories dropping and deadline pressure — it’s so much easier to handle those pressures when you’re in a supportive environment.
I feel like I’m at home when I’m at The Daily Nebraskan, so much so that I’ve built a makeshift bedroom under a desk for nights when I study until 4 a.m. and don’t feel like biking home. While I’m proud of my pitch-black blanket fort, what I’ll miss most about this place is the team of reporters who have stuck with (co-senior culture editor) Ally Sargus and I this whole year. We really were just a ragtag crew in the beginning, but I think we found our footing along the way.
I’m surprised I’m writing this, too, but I’m going to miss editing my reporters’ stories! It’s not that I’ve ever disliked the technical aspects of being an editor, but I never thought I’d long for the days of trying to understand what someone is trying to say in a Google Chat or tearing a reporter’s story to pieces — lovingly, of course. It’s mostly that I’m going to miss reading their unique writing styles, as they get better and better with each story.
It’s a bizarre, complicated, distant and rewarding relationship that’s formed every year at The DN among its editors. While we might not always see eye-to-eye, it’s impossible not to eventually feel like a group of people have become a family when working together every day toward a common goal. Even though I don’t know the name of the small town in Kansas where Karissa Schmidt is from or why Luke Mullin likes Eminem in all his forms so much, by the end of the year, these relationships became far more than simple acquaintances.
Even Slack, the damned company-wide group messaging system that never, ever, leaves you alone, will have a special place in my heart. As a platform both for late-night conversations with reporters who just got back from covering a show and just want to go to sleep, as well as for memes satirizing everything from Bernie Sanders to Caterpillar Hydraulic Excavators, how could it not? I’ll miss you, Slack, in all your infuriating glory.
So, yeah, there’s a lot I’ll miss about The Daily Nebraskan. And as much as I’ve learned as a journalist and as a leader at The DN, nothing will ever beat the memories.
Everyone deserves to experience something like it.
Ben Buchnat, engagement editor
The Daily Nebraskan was one of the first places I truly felt at home in Nebraska. I distinctly remember being a scared freshman walking down to my first budget. I was freaked out, so much so that I nearly turned back. I’m so glad I stuck through it.
The DN helped me turn into the man I am today. I learned so much, beyond the realm of journalism. It taught me to be a better person.
I will always cherish the late nights and great memories in the basement of the Nebraska Union, from skipping class to watch March Madness on four different monitors to working on journalistic projects that I’m incredibly proud of.
Throughout my whole career at The DN, I went from a culture writer to assistant culture editor to engagement editor. I owe this success to all of my past editors and colleagues who believed in me. They supported me even through the setbacks and hard times and I cannot thank them enough.
I’ll never forget The DN and I am forever grateful for my time there.
Also Shawn Mendes’ “Illuminate” still sucks.
Hannah DePriest, assistant photo/video editor
Graduating college is terrifying. Leaving the people and places that feel most comfortable and jumping into a world with new people and new surroundings is scary. It can be daunting. At least it is for me.
The first time I walked into this newsroom I was a sophomore in college with little to no idea what I wanted to do with my life, let alone what I was doing at The Daily Nebraskan looking for a job.
I had always been embarrassed by my liking of photography. I couldn’t even convince myself it was a hobby. I was terrified to take pictures in public or of people I didn’t know. So what made me want to work on the photo staff? I wanted to challenge myself.
I got more than just a challenge during my time at The Daily Nebraskan. I learned about myself as a creative, a photographer, a student and a leader. I learned that using a camera means so much more than getting a cool picture. It’s about telling stories and as I worked alongside some amazingly talented students, I learned the importance of storytelling.
I slowly ventured into the world of sports photography, learning from my peers, spending hours at softball games, tennis matches, gymnastics meets and soccer games. These countless Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons were some highlights of my early years of college. Then I got to photograph my first Husker football game. That was the first moment I realized I had the most amazing job.
What I learned from our staff of photographers has been incredibly impactful on my college career. They taught me to be confident in the things I love, like photography. They taught me how to learn the rules and then break them. They taught me how I can be creative, passionate, curious and hardworking.
The Daily Nebraskan has given me countless opportunities I couldn’t have found elsewhere. It gave me the chance to explore who I was and how to become confident. I’ve made close friends here and I’ve grown as a leader.
I’m so grateful to this place and these people for what they’ve taught me, and I can only hope that the next slightly timid and unsure student who walks into the basement of the Nebraska Union, not sure what they are looking for, finds what I have found.