When I was heading home on Laurel Tuesday morning, I saw on my phone that Iâ€™d received an email from our adviser. A few lines in were the words â€œTop! Three!â€ Top three, I thought, what? And then, as I read more, I understood.
That morning, the Society of Professional Journalists, one of the largest and the nationâ€™s oldest journalism organizations, had announced the national finalists of the 2011 Mark of Excellence Awards. The Collegian was named the third best daily student newspaper at a four-year institution.
At first, I was overwhelmed with excitement and pride. Iâ€™ll admit it, I cried. After three years at the paper, I have had the privilege to work with some of the most passionate and dedicated journalists out there.
Each year, my colleagues, my friends, have put in countless hours to make the paper the best it can be each and every day. And the award does not just go to the 2010-11 staff. Without the strong platform our predecessors created for us to stand on, we would not be here today.
The following day, I started thinking. This award is not just for our paper. The names that should appear on the certificate alongside â€œThe staff of The Rocky Mountain Collegianâ€ are innumerable. At the very least, the name of each person in each story in each issue we entered into the contest should appear next to our own.
After that, the list could go on infinitely to include the name of every person quoted since the Collegianâ€™s birth in 1891. Without people and without their willingness (or sometimes unwillingness) to share their stories, this paper would cease to be a paper.
People are the reason weâ€™re in this business; why I do what I do. Each day since the first I picked up a pen and reporterâ€™s notebook for the Collegian, I have been humbled and awed by the people in this community and beyond who have let me into their lives.
The first of these experiences was on April 21, 2008 when Joel Cohen, the writer and co-producer of â€œThe Simpsons,â€ told students on campus about his escapades in TV and the time he had to â€œwhisper the Hebrew pronunciation of a word into Mr. Tâ€™s ear so he could turn right around and repeat it into the mic.â€
And it just went from there.
I watched as members of the Associated Students of CSU worked tirelessly to register voters for the 2008 national election and then as the same group of students stood speechless as a Chicago senator became Americaâ€™s first black president on a historic November evening.
I listened as Vietnam War veteran and CSU agricultural economics professor Norman Dalsted shared his unsettling tales of war on the eve of Veterans Day. â€œThe ultimate game is hunting another human being â€“â€“Â until you win. And then you have to live with it,â€ he told me.
As my Fort Collins Food Diaries co-columnist Mike Kalush snapped photos and made real conversation to make my questions less awkward, I enjoyed countless conversations with Fort Collins chefs and restaurant owners who opened up their kitchens to our pens and cameras.
I cried for the families and friends of those people who have died and made it into the pages of this paper.
These are only a few of the hundreds of stories Iâ€™ve covered since walking into the newsroom three years ago and only a few of the thousands of subsequent memories.
It is these stories and memories that have shaped my experience as a journalist, and it is the people behind each that deserve the credit for my success and that of my paper.
So thank you, to everyone who has been a part of my life here at CSU. Your names will always have a place next to that of our paper on that certificate.
Editor in Chief Madeline Novey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.