L.M. Montgomery’s character Anne Shirley once mused, “Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”

Until I came here, I felt my life was nothing but mistakes, carrying over day after day. Leaving here, I now know I was wrong.
As I reflect on the journey I have taken here at UCC and with The Mainstream, I am reminded that each day is a new experience, sometimes with mistakes. However, with mistakes come learning and understanding. Montgomery’s character Anne understood this as she took her next steps not long after uttering those words. Her teacher inspired a large part of her journey and ultimately helped her become the person she wanted to be. My instructors here are constant guides and inspirations, too.

My journey has been bumpy. I came to UCC in the spring of 2015, completely lost, downtrodden and unsure of whom I was. I had no faith in people and no trust in authority. I viewed myself as an older student, having been out of school for 15 years. Just walking into a classroom was panic inducing. With social anxiety and self-doubt, I had an idea of what I wanted to do, but no idea how to accomplish it.

When my adviser suggested I take Journalism Production, I saw it as a way to continue writing, but not a career path. Meeting Melinda Benton and her staff, I was surprised by the immediate feeling of warmth and friendliness. The staff took me in and helped me gain confidence I had never experienced in my life. It was she who suggested I consider journalism as something to pursue, and she has continued to help me see my potential.

We don’t know what twists and turns life holds for us. Sometimes they are people who crash like falling stars onto our path. During spring term, I met someone in Paula Usrey’s Public Relations class who would not only become my best friend, but my rock through the dark times ahead. Charlie Crosier came as a bright light into my dark sky, giving me a new perspective in so many ways, as he continues to do even now.

October 1, 2015 changed everything for us on campus. We lost our home, our safe place and our friends and family. Being here in lock down when it all happened is not something I would want anyone to experience. It was an unspeakable and indescribable day. I lost a bit of myself during that time, as we all did.

Despite the horrors of that day, this campus came together with the community to comfort and help each other. The Mainstream family was no exception. Even before classes resumed, we met as a staff and considered how to contribute to the grief and healing process, all the while trying to keep our family together. Seeing those I cared for so broken was heart wrenching. I cannot put into words how strong Melinda was during this time, even if she didn’t feel it. She kept us going when we really wanted to give up. That first issue was the most difficult one we have produced to date.

Not long after that, the previous managing editor had to leave school to take care of her own health. We were once again afloat. By some strange happenstance, I was chosen by the staff to fill in her place. I was not confident in my leadership skills, completely unsure I could do the job. I still have self-doubts to this day. No matter what comes our way, though, this is Home.

During my time here, we have covered topics that changed the face of the campus, told the stories of students and staff who are moving through their own journeys and helped opened up conversations on controversies relevant to our community.

We have taken risks at times, but always kept the voice of the students in the forefront. It is our purpose, why we are here.

We have won 21 awards during the time I have been managing editor, including 1st place for General Excellence, a first for our paper. However, I will not take credit, for it was my team that enabled us to attain greatness.

My journey as the managing editor has led me to find lifelong friends, people I consider family. People who have been with me through pain and illness, dark times and light, heartbreak and triumph. They have seen me at my worst and helped me be my best. They have held my head, my hand and heart during times when I was sure I couldn’t go on, and they have inspired me with their own struggles. They are the heroes of my life.

It was through The Mainstream that I also discovered my love for theater, a place I now see as my Zen. Like my Home, my Zen is filled with people who shine on and off the stage. Stephanie Newman showed me a world I didn’t know existed. She opened my eyes to new possibilities through her own visions some to life. She has inspired me in so many ways and allowed me to explore parts of me I had left hidden.

I will never have the words to express the thankfulness and love I feel for those who have become so dear to me. They have helped me become whom I am meant to be. It is overwhelming to think that I will not be coming here everyday, listening to their ideas and working together to create something amazing, either on the page or on the stage. And yet, we must all move on. The day ends, another one begins.

I would have never gotten to where I am today, poised to graduate and ready to move on to the University of Oregon as a dual major in Journalism and Theater Arts without making some mistakes. But each day is new, and new chance to learn and grow.

A new chance to live, love and discover. My journey isn’t over. It’s only just begun. And, no matter who or where you are, so has yours.