2020 Seniors

Top left to right: senior sports editor Jacob Bova, managing editor Ally Sargus, copy chief Camryn Preston, senior art director Lindsey Pinkerton, design chief Will Fleig and assistant culture editor Hunter Arias. Bottom left to right: senior photo/video editor Elsie Stormberg and editor-in-chief Karissa Schmidt

Hunter Arias, assistant culture editor

I may be a graduating senior, but in Daily Nebraskan years I’m not even an upperclassman. Thanks to the welcoming atmosphere curated by my longtime friend and former senior culture editor Sam Crisler, I started writing music reviews near the end of the first semester of my junior year. 

I initially had no idea what I was doing at The DN. All I knew was that there was an outlet for me to bring my confident opinions on music to a wider audience. Considering that I’m a business marketing and management double major with zero experience working with AP Style, I learned about proper formatting and article structure the hard way. Luckily, I’m a fast learner and I went from drowning in a sea of words and punctuation to showing others how to do it in less than two years.

I barely had enough time to rise to the rank of assistant culture editor before I had to graduate. I honestly wish I had one more year to spend with the wonderful family in the newsroom at The DN. I’m beyond thankful for those who were patient with my naivety and hard-headedness and for those who saw in me the writing ability that I so often questioned.

We’ll see how much writing I do in the future. This publication might be the largest one I ever work for, god forbid. I’ll do what I can to keep this faux-journalism student racket running. Wish me luck.

 

Lindsey Pinkerton, art director

It doesn’t feel right to say goodbye quite yet.

Spring semester of 2019, I joined the long line of stellar artists who have been employed in their college years by The Daily Nebraskan. I really didn’t know what I had gotten myself into. All I knew was that I now had the opportunity to draw with my friends and get paid for it. I did not expect to get so much more than just that.

The art cave –– a little room adjacent to the newsroom that is home to the art section –– has become a place where great artistic works, as well as some questionable ones, have been created. The best things that I have made by far, as cheesy as it is, are memories.

The amount of tomfoolery that goes on as we draw every night is something that I will truly miss. I think often about how Austin Coudriet, former art director and current super friend, would hype me up about the smallest thing and would save drawings that I thought were just alright from the recycling bin and hang them proudly up on the corkboard. 

When I worked with Will Fleig, former assistant art director and current design chief/honorary art cave member, we would blast his music and just scream over it until someone told us we were being too loud for them to concentrate on writing. Being the life of the party isn’t always easy.

This year with Grace Orwen as my assistant art director has been one that holds a special place in my heart. She is an amazing artist and friend with whom I have grown so much in this past year. If I may, I’d like to give light to all of the things that I will miss about the art cave with Grace:

First, the excited screaming about anything often accompanied by a strange accent of some sort. 

Calling everyone “brother” like Hulk Hogan. 

Drawing chickens in various articles of clothing. 

Shuffling over to our pals in the culture section to see what the weekly events are and just to say hi because we miss them and want to be their besties. 

Struggling so hard with drawing accurate human anatomy that the only way to fix it is to blast Sandstorm by Darude loud enough that the news section can hear our scream for help. 

And finally, the secret forbidden love that the art cave has for the sports section. Our desks are so close to each other so sometimes we make our conversations just a little bit louder so they’d know we were thinking of them and that we would like some of the Chinese food they just brought down from the food court.

I had no idea that I would fall so much in love with The Daily Nebraskan in such a short amount of time. I wish that I could’ve worked here longer and made a bigger impact, but it’s time for me to go and that’s okay. My challenge for anyone who is reading this is to stop testing if the water is warm enough to jump in. Just dive headfirst. Give it your all. You’ll be amazed by the community of people you will end up surrounding yourself with.

 

Will Fleig, design chief

The first time I entered The Daily Nebraskan newsroom, I was an unmotivated underclassman rebounding one of the most difficult years of my life. As a graphic design student hired to create art and design magazine spreads, I assumed that my time there wouldn’t amount to much more than a part-time job. I can say now that I was wrong. 

Working for The Daily Nebraskan has been one of the most fulfilling and meaningful experiences I’ve had in college. Beyond the personal skills that I gained in design, communication and leadership, being part of such a welcoming group of people was exactly what I needed to regain confidence in my work. After just a couple of months at The DN, I had realized that I can always set the bar higher for myself. 

Of course, no good job comes without challenges. You don’t know what a tight deadline is until you’re asked to design a magazine in just a few days while balancing your coursework. However, there was never a single challenge that I had to face alone. I always had a team of motivated young professionals to look to for guidance or to keep a smile on my face while we were all burning the midnight oil to meet a deadline.

I could go on about all of the value I’ve received in my short time at The DN, but it seems like an exercise in futility for me. I’ll leave it to the people who actually practice writing to convey just how meaningful being a part of a group like this can be. 

All I can tell you is that I am a different person, a better person, than I was the first time I walked into The Daily Nebraskan newsroom.

 

Camryn Preston, copy chief

I cannot believe the last day of regular publishing is already here. And here we are, in the middle of a global pandemic where nothing is familiar.

When I started this semester, I knew I would be facing a lot of lasts. But I didn’t think my last few days at The Daily Nebraskan would consist of working remotely on my laptop, communicating with my editors via Slack only and being unable to go into our newsroom. I look back and think of all the things I wish would have gone differently this semester. A lot of times, I ask myself and others why something like this had to happen to our class. Why couldn’t our senior years just have ended like they were supposed to?

I look out at all the seniors, but especially the other seniors contributing to this column, and I know why it was us. The strength, determination and maturity shown by my colleagues during this bizarre time prove to me that we can handle just about anything. These seniors carried their sections on their back, all while trying to finish up classwork, tying up loose ends and preparing for their futures. Working alongside these young professionals has truly been one of the greatest joys of my time at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

But two seniors I know, Karissa Schmidt, our editor-in-chief, and Ally Sargus, our managing editor, navigated a publication with over 100 staff members from working in-person in our newsroom to completely functioning remotely. Because of these two phenomenal seniors, I know what true leadership and resilience looks like.

If other seniors out there are half of the people I know who will be graduating from The Daily Nebraskan, I know the future is in good hands.

And to my slot editors, copy editors and the rest of the 2019-20 newsroom family, thank you from the bottom of my heart for one of the greatest experiences of my undergraduate career.

 

Elsie Stormberg, senior photo/video editor

The moment I realized I was a senior was during The Daily Nebraskan banquet this past December. I was standing there next to my two friends, Karissa Schmidt and Ally Sargus, two co-workers who I have known since the beginning of freshman year. We were standing there, surrounded by these freshmen having the time of their life dancing on the dance floor with other staffers. 

I was watching the group laugh, dance and bond and I had a sudden feeling. I remembered the fall banquet of my freshman year. I was in their shoes. That was the moment I knew I always wanted to be a part of The DN. That feeling I had — I realized it was my time to part ways. One more semester and I would no longer be a part of the organization I have called home for the past four years. 

And it was okay. 

It is okay. 

It’s okay to say goodbye to the quote board, the photo section’s rambunctiousness and the laughter that fills the office to its brim. It’s okay to say goodbye to print nights, banquets and funny Slack messages. It’s okay to say goodbye to all the amazing people I have ever met while working within the confines of the office.  

I can’t believe it’s over. 

As my mind rushed back to the banquet, I couldn’t just stand there the whole night, so I joined these freshmen. I danced and laughed and bonded once again with old friends and new. 

Just because it’s the end doesn’t mean I can’t have fun on the way out. 

So, to my photographers, thank you for being yourselves. Thank you for teaching me something new every day. Thank you for letting me know that even when stressed, you still appreciate me. You have no idea how much that means to me. I will always miss the inside jokes, everyone’s passion and knowing that photo will always be the rowdiest section. Sorry news section. 

To my assistants, thank you for always dealing with my scattered brain and nevertheless supporting me. Thank you for reminding me that it’s okay to be a little shambly sometimes. We all are. 

To my freshman-year-banquet-loving-self, thank you for sticking with The DN. We wouldn’t be the same without it. 

 

Jacob Bova, senior sports editor

I’m not good at writing stuff like this.

Give me an event to cover or a sport to write about and I can knock that out in a heartbeat. Reflecting on my time at The Daily Nebraskan? That’s something entirely different.

When I think about the time I spent at The Daily Nebraskan, the one thing I will remember most fondly is the friendships I made. I’ve made friends at The Daily Nebraskan that I will have for the rest of my life. Since I no longer am going into the field of journalism, I look forward to getting the inside scoop from them.

I joined The DN staff as a sophomore and was immediately welcomed. Within a month, it felt like I had been there for years. While journalism is what we do and is our job, it’s the people that sets this place apart.

I will always look back fondly on my time at The DN and one day, maybe I’ll envy the late nights spent editing the magazine, but probably not.

Oh and one last thing for all the sports reporters, when Devin Booker leads the Suns to the NBA Finals, you’ll know where to find me.

 

Ally Sargus, managing editor

As a bright-eyed freshman stepping foot into The Daily Nebraskan newsroom for the first time, I never would have imagined I’d contribute to the senior column as the publication’s managing editor. At 18, I also never thought I’d complete my degree from the comfort of my home due to a global pandemic. 

But here I am.

These past four years at The DN have been the highlight of my college career, but I honestly didn’t realize that until these final weeks. With my time at The DN nearing an end, I’ve had flashbacks of all the memories made with my colleagues-turned-friends.

For all the times I complained about sources not responding, unorganized stories or late nights in the newsroom, I’m sorry. 

All I can think about now is how I would do anything to take back those unappreciative moments. 

I have an immense amount of gratitude for this publication and the people behind it, and it kills me not to have a formal goodbye. 

To the friends I’ve had from day one as a news writer, thank you for making the transition from high school to college easy, and continuing to stand by me throughout these years. 

To the culture section I hold near to my heart, thank you for accepting me into your family and teaching me about the beautiful impacts that music, art, film and food have on people’s lives. 

And to The DN staff of 2020, thank you for your dedication despite the hurdles this year brought. I cannot express how lucky I am to have helped lead such an amazing group of young journalists during these unprecedented times. I am so proud of each and every one of you.

The Daily Nebraskan is more than just a student-run publication. It is truly one giant family that makes a newsroom in the basement of the Nebraska Union a home. I am grateful for the love and support we have for each other, and all the memories I have to look back on.

 

Karissa Schmidt, editor-in-chief

I’ve written several articles in the past few weeks about everything that has happened since the COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve talked about how sad I am about the cancelation of graduation and The DN April/May magazine, my time at UNL being cut short and the frustrations of online classes. But that’s not what this letter is about. 

This is about the entirety of my four years in the newsroom of The Daily Nebraskan — a topic that is even more emotional and hard to write about than COVID-19. I’m not going to let a global pandemic be the only memory I leave with. 

There really is no way I can sum up my time at The DN in a few sentences. I can’t explain how The Daily Nebraskan and its staff and the opportunities I have been given through this job have changed my life entirely. And nothing can describe the emotions I feel when entering the office every day seeing the smiling faces of my staff and the passion they bring. 

It has been a running joke in my friend group that if I’m not in a class or sleeping, I’m probably at The DN. I’m sure some of them are still confused as to why I spend all of my free time in the newsroom, and they could even attest that I’m a bit of a workaholic. But I don’t regret the weekends I spent at Husker sporting events, the overnight shifts at the office during music festivals and breaking news stories or just the time spent in-office while my non-DN friends were off having fun. 

Taking on the role of being a leader of the entire newsroom was something I never expected to happen. My freshman year self couldn’t even see myself in a photo editor position, let alone being the editor-in-chief. 

I am sometimes still in shock that I was able to survive. With each obstacle I faced this year, I sat down with my managing editor, Ally, and we would discuss what to do next. Each time something would happen, we would say: “It can’t get much worse than this” or “Bring it on.” 

In hindsight, we probably jinxed ourselves, but we somehow managed to handle everything. 

We dealt with several changes to our senior staff. We planned a last-minute ASUN debate. We even transitioned our entire newsroom operations due to a global pandemic. With each obstacle came a learning experience and a challenge that we came out of stronger.

All I can do now is say thank you.

Thank you to my past editors for pushing me to succeed and setting an example for how to be a leader. Thank you to my non-DN friends for being supportive of me and putting up with my absence while I was busy at The DN. Thank you to Ally for being my biggest supporter throughout all of the stress. And most of all, thank you to the entire 2019-2020 staff for trusting a former photo editor turned editor-in-chief to be the leader.

The Daily Nebraskan will forever hold a special place in my heart and I have each and everyone one of you to thank for that.