o-seniorletters

Top left to right: assistant art director Grace Orwen, senior multimedia editor Dylan Widger. Bottom left to right: senior culture editor Mark Champion, editor-in-chief Grace Gorenflo.

Mark Champion, senior culture editor

I just realized I only have a handful of times left to type “Google Docs” into the search bar. 

Naturally, I’m also just realizing I probably could have saved like four hours of time over the course of my college career just by making a bookmark for Google Docs. 

All the times I mistyped or entirely forgot what I was typing added up, and now that I’m almost ready to graduate and break my ties with Google Docs — at least somewhat — I can’t help but focus on the tiny missed opportunity that would have allowed me to squeeze a little bit more out of my college experience. 

So is the case at The Daily Nebraskan and with my college career as a whole. As I’m standing on the edge of the post-graduation void, I’m stuck thinking about all I wish I would have done.

They keep me up at night; the stories that eluded my pencil’s grasp, the projects that were a couple minutes away from perfection, the concerts I forgot to film, the em dashes I wish I would have used — you get the point. There’s a whole lot I wish I would have experienced or accomplished in college, but I think that’s the beauty of this place. So much is constantly out of reach, but for four years, you get to lace up your running shoes and take a dead sprint at whatever you can grab.

I like to think my time at the DN was a testament to this idea. I’m really proud of what I’ve done and what I’ve learned, but I don’t think I would be satisfied here unless I worked until I was 80. And I can’t afford that many credit hours out of pocket. 

Of course, there’s the whole COVID-19 thing too. It’s an excuse, and I hate excuses, but it did make covering arts and entertainment in Lincoln pretty difficult. I started here as a confused sophomore and sloppy music writer, and without shows to stay up until 3 a.m. writing about, this job was a little lackluster. 

I started because my friends were doing it, and while I don’t smoke cigarettes or jump off bridges, giving in to peer pressure was the best decision I could have made. I was into music, but not journalism. Sam Crisler, a good friend and the senior culture editor at the start of my journey here, gave me the gentle push I needed to jump into this unknown world of magazines, quotes and forced puns. 

One journalism major, two years of editing and about 200 trips to the Nebraska Union Subway later, I’m sitting at my desk for the last time, desperately typing in search of a good pun.

I don’t know if I have one. And this was due a half hour ago. 

Regardless, The Daily Nebraskan is an amazing place. It’s built purely on students’ passion for informing and entertaining their peers. I wish I could have done more of that. Thank you to all the people I’ve worked with, learned from and befriended in this dreary basement. 

EMBED PUN HERE

Grace Gorenflo, editor-in-chief

I first walked into The Daily Nebraskan newsroom on an afternoon in September 2017. The office, as it usually is during a weekday, was dead.

The only person I found was then-senior news editor Jessica Larkins. She handed me an application, and I told her I wanted to be editor-in-chief someday.

At this point in my life, I had been involved in journalism for about 2.5 years. I had been a reporter for and the editor-in-chief of my high school newspaper. I knew this was the work I wanted to dedicate my life to.

But, if I’m honest, I had little clue how a newsroom worked.

Jessica explained some positions to me as I repeatedly denied inconveniently timed calls from my mom — in true freshman fashion. I decided I wanted to be a news reporter, and also in true freshman fashion, I was very excited to call my mom about it.

If only I had known how much of an impact that afternoon would have on the next four years of my life.

Jessica ended up being my editor-in-chief the next year, and Karissa Schmidt followed her for the 2019-20 academic year. Karissa hired me for my first DN editor position as an assistant news editor, and she sat with me for many (many) hours in the spring of 2020 to help me prepare for my editor-in-chief application.

This year, I had the dubious honor of leading the DN through a pandemic, and somehow I do not think that was the hardest part of my term. Through “I think I have COVID” messages to crisis management to simply keeping a team positive when our jobs were flipped upside down and drained of all camaraderie, I learned a lot about being a journalist and a leader.

I started the year upset that out of more than 100 years of Daily Nebraskan editors, I was one of a handful who had to lead through a pandemic. Today, I basically wear it as a badge of honor.

Jessica and Karissa were incredible mentors to me — they are still only a text away — and they are not the only ones. Whenever I needed advice, a band of former DN editors was at my service, literally day or night. 

Even when I was so exhausted I could barely form sentences, these people put a smile on my face because I realized this is where I was meant to be. I have never done anything as fulfilling (and equally terrifying) as being editor-in-chief of The Daily Nebraskan. But freshman Grace knew what she wanted, and everything fell into place.

I am sad to leave the DN, but I am very excited to be a part of the former DN editor club. 

My advice to you, as cheesy and redundant as it sounds, is to find your place on campus. Whether you work for The Daily Nebraskan or not, there is a place where you can be yourself and, eventually, look back as a proud alum. 

And, if it’s meant to be, one day you’ll just find yourself wandering through the door.

Signing off,

Grace Gorenflo

2020-21 editor-in-chief

Grace Orwen, art director

I was hired as an illustrator after the art director at the time saw my sketchbooks during one of my many late nights at the studios in Richards Hall. As a ceramist by trade, I didn’t know much about digital illustration, but I knew that working for The Daily Nebraskan was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. In my time there, I’ve worked with some amazing artists, some beautiful people and some of my best friends. 

The Art Cave is home to some extremely talented people. Sometimes thinking of art appropriate for all the wild articles given to us is no joke. I’ve seen our artists make some baller art out of some seemingly dull topics (sorry, news, but I’m looking at you). I would just like to thank all the reporters and section editors that I’ve worked with for supplying us with these challenges. 

To the COVID-19 coverage team: I never thought I would draw so many laptops and COVID particles in my life, but it’s been fun trying to figure that out. 

Culture: You guys gave me not only the opportunity to draw Glen Cambell popping out of a trash can, but also Pete Ricketts trying his hand at a drum kit, and all I can say is thank you. 

Sports: Bless your hearts. I’m sure I’ve asked you so many dumb questions about how sports work, and you never once laughed at me for asking if what I thought was the NFL logo was indeed the NFL logo. 

Opinion: You guys always had the most detailed and complicated prompts, and they were such a pleasure to bring to life. Draw Socrates in heaven watching the presidential debates in disgust? Done and done. 

And finally, News: I love you. You do great work. However, if you’ve never had to depict sexual misconduct or human trafficking in a jaunty little illustration, I assure you it is very difficult. 

I’m proud to have worked with all of the talented students at The Daily Nebraskan and will treasure the memories made in the office. While I’m sad I have to leave the Art Cave behind, I know the team will continue its stellar work when I’m gone.

Dylan Widger, senior multimedia editor

A month or so ago, I was sitting and talking with fellow editors while waiting for the announcement of the next editor-in-chief for The Daily Nebraskan. We were talking about our time at the paper, comparing how long we had been there and what all we had seen during our time. Being a super senior, I knew that I had the others beat on the duration of our stint at the publication. However, it only really occurred to me at that moment that when I leave, I will have been here for four and a half years.

I’ve worked at The Daily Nebraskan longer than I was in high school.

Now, I’m not the type of person to really reminisce about my time in high school. I feel like a person shouldn’t put their time in high school on a pedestal. There is so much more to your lifetime than mandatory state education. 

However, I am the type of person that values time. 

And I truly have valued my time at The Daily Nebraskan.

I’ve told the story of me at the paper times before in past letters I have written, so I won’t go on a long spiel. I’m also not going to get super emotional in this. I will save that for my letter from the editor.

But I have seen so much during my time here. I have seen so many different people leave their mark. I’ve seen entire sections completely reform and adapt to stay competitive in reporting. I’ve seen so many important stories told on campus, stories that would remain unknown without the passion that reporters, photographers and editors put into the publication. 

I get a smile on my face every time I think about all of the talent and enthusiasm that the staff has poured into the publication and how it reflects in the work. I don’t try to hide it — I care about every single person here, and I am their biggest fan. Being a part of what I believe to be one of the nation’s best college photojournalism staffs, I’ve worked with so many talented individuals, and I truly believe that they all will go on to kick ass in everything that they do. I still get overwhelmed with happiness when I see past staffers’ work while scrolling through social media, even though I am not working with them anymore. And I know that’s how I am going to feel about The Daily Nebraskan.

I’m not great at describing my emotions, so I think I am going to leave it there.

To whoever is reading this, regardless if you are a staff member or not, you are going to do great things. 

I believe in you, and I’ll be rooting for you along the way.