A farewell to Boone
One goodbye is hard enough, but a second one is just as tough — if not worse.
A little more than a year ago, I wrote a goodbye column in The Appalachian, a tradition that allows a senior the chance to write about their time at Appalachian State, student media and whatever else they want to say in their final byline.
I wasn’t a graduating senior, but I had been a part of the student newspaper for four years and was about to start an internship with the Student Press Law Center in Washington, D.C. I’d be back the next semester to finish up school, but after four years — two of them as editor-in-chief — I felt that my time with The Appalachian was done.
Obviously, that didn’t happen.
I came back in January and helped create a long form component to The Appalachian’s online presence with the help of some very talented coworkers. I even added a few pieces of my own about the student deaths at Appalachian this past year, the lack of racial diversity on our campus and the current state of the UNC system.
But now I have graduated from Appalachian and am about to start my first job in the post-grad world as a reporter with The Daily Progress in Charlottesville, Virginia. My second goodbye is not only to The Appalachian, but to App State, Boone and North Carolina.
First off, The Appalachian has been my foundation in journalism, the place where I practiced reporting and where I was able to showcase my writing to an audience for the first time. Sure, classes polished my writing and freelancing and interning outside The Appalachian broadened my experience, but what I learned in Room 217 of Plemmons Student Union was irreplicable and special to me.
From the editors who believed in me early on to the staff who trusted me as EIC, everyone in that newsroom ever since fall 2010 have had some sort of significant effect on me and my development as a journalist. And from David Freeman, my first adviser, to Allison Dyche, The Appalachian’s current adviser, I’ve had many wonderful talks about journalism and constructive critiques over the years that have made me better at what I enjoy.
Appalachian State, quite frankly, I’m not sure I’ll miss you as much. This could be the cynicism coming out in me, but I’m more thankful for the people I have met at this institution rather than the campus as a whole (sorry, not sorry). So to all of the journalism faculty, the folks in CSIL and anyone else I had the fortune of taking classes with, interviewing or even just seeing on a routine basis, thank you for making my time at Appalachian enjoyable and memorable.
Boone, I came to you nearly half a decade ago as an 18-year-old kid who had no clue what he was going to do with his life. The people that inhabit this town in the High Country have been wonderful and inspiring, giving me a place to call home a little longer than most Appalachian students get to stay.
I’ll miss Taco Tuesdays at Boone Saloon, a wonderful cup of coffee from Espresso News — where I am writing this from — and the multiple sessions at Speakeasy. But more than those things, I’ll miss the people that accompany those memories.
And North Carolina, you’re my home and always will be. I wasn’t born here, but I was raised here and I have so much love for your culture, your music, your people and your BBQ (the vinegar based, of course).
I know some of these things seem a little unnecessary and very sappy. I know I will visit again and see the old newsroom, relive college nights on King Street and maybe even get some time in with Greg or Justin at Speakeasy. But in case this week, this past semester or these last few years are the last time I’m ever in this part of the state ever, I’m beyond thankful for every second of it.
I’m glad I met the people I did, got involved how I saw fit and made the decision I did — personal and educational — and the consequences that followed. Whether I made the right choices or not while I was in college, it got me here and all I can do is keep going forward and do what seems best.
So thank you to student media, Appalachian State, Boone and the Old North State for everything so far. This is not goodbye forever, just a brief departure.
I’ll be back again soon.