A very long good-bye

Jennifer Greenlee

It’s strange to think that I’m actually writing my last “thing” for The Signpost after being here for four years. I started at Weber State and The Signpost the summer before my freshman year, still just 17 years old. I’m 21 now, and I think I can say, with some certainty, that most of us could never have predicted the last four years.

And, if you were anything like me, you walked onto this campus ready to take on and change the world, but the world decided to take us on instead: a pandemic, an insurrection, what feels like innumerable wildfires, national protests and the invasion of Ukraine.

Every one of us has faced unprecedented times, and no matter how long it took us to make it to the other side of our degrees, we did it through the most extraordinary of circumstances — despite the circumstances.

I’m proud to have made it through such a tumultuous time, and whether you graduate in two short weeks or in a semester a few years from now, I hope you can say the same.

For me, though, graduation isn’t the final piece to this puzzle that has been my undergraduate degree. It wasn’t just the coursework that made me who I am, but the experiences.

I started out at The Signpost as the assistant news editor in 2018, the news editor in 2019 and the editor-in-chief from summer 2020 to now. In undergrad years, I’m practically a dinosaur at The Signpost, having been there so long.

You can do it if you Tri!
You can do it if you Tri! Photo credit: Makayla Martinez

As a student paper, we see people come and go over the semesters and years, and I’ve been uniquely situated to be there as long as I have. It can be difficult for students to dedicate so much time in their busy lives to something like The Signpost, and at times, it was more difficult for me than I like to pretend.

It’s a three-credit-hour course, which is not always the easiest thing to make fit in a schedule. It demands a lot of attention, and at times, it demands a lot more than the three-credit-hour commitment.

But I wouldn’t change anything about it.

Now, I am finally graduating and moving forward in my life, and I believe it is the dinosaur’s rite of passage to pass along the wisdom I’ve supposedly garnered from the last four years. And the best advice I have for you is to pursue your passions.

A dinosaur with a large vocabulary is known as a thesaurus.
A dinosaur with a large vocabulary is known as a thesaurus. Photo credit: Makayla Martinez

So what if it doesn’t make you a millionaire? So what if it isn’t supposed to pay well? Do what you love, and the rest will follow.

There’s a statistic floating around saying that nearly 80% of college graduates don’t work in the field they went to school for. So do what you love and get involved in it where and when you can. When are you going to get the chance to study and do what you love again?

Being a part of the campus, getting a peek behind the scenes and talking to students, faculty and staff all changed who I am today.

If you walk out of college the same person you went in, that’s on you. College is about growing, learning and changing. And coming to Weber State was integral in doing that for me.

I feel lucky, looking back on my life, to have made the decision to come to Weber State and call it home. I’m glad I get to continue calling it home during my master’s degree.

(Maybe I’ll even be lucky enough to have them create a Ph.D. program in English while I’m working on my master’s, so I never have to leave.)

A sight for saur eyes.
A sight for saur eyes. Photo credit: Makayla Martinez

You might look at my resume or CV and never be able to guess that I didn’t plan to come to Weber State when I left high school. If you’re from the local area, you probably heard people talk down about Weber.

It wasn’t something I had consciously listened to or thought about, but I had initially decided to go to Utah State University. Life changed, and I switched courses in March of 2018, just before graduating high school.

And I’ll be forever glad I made that choice. I would not be the person I am today without the experiences I had on this campus.

Because, despite everything the last four years took from me, I look back fondly on many of the times in my life that I had here, even in the face of the sometimes painful and difficult circumstances, and I see beauty: I have met the best friends of my life, I have found new passions and I have done more than I would have ever dreamed possible four years ago.

The friends that I leave my undergraduate degree with are truly the most phenomenal of people who have done nothing but lift me up and encourage me. I cannot tell them how grateful I am or how deeply I care for them because the English language simply does not contain enough words to convey it.

My family was integral in shaping me. And at the end of every day, I had their love and support. When college was what I wanted, they did their best to make sure I could get there and be successful. Support was an assumption and never a question.

I will be walking across the stage on April 29, and I will be receiving a degree in communication with a journalism emphasis, following in my father’s footsteps, his own passion so many years ago.

My father is a huge part of me. We always shared a sense of humor, a kindness and a sarcastic nature that was undoubtedly passed down through him. We shared a passion for writing, for journalism, for politics — even, and especially, when we came down on the opposite sides of things.

I went to him with any question I had about journalism, about The Signpost, about leadership. He was an editor on his own college paper in the era of dinosaurs. He was my greatest mentor.

The scariest dinosaur is a terror-dactyl.
The scariest dinosaur is a terror-dactyl. Photo credit: Makayla Martinez

He passed away this semester, mid-February, and the loss is immense, but I know he is proud of me, and he will be there when I accept the same degree he did so many years ago. His love and passion for education is one of the many reasons I will finally walk that stage.

I have had wonderful advisers who helped me along the way, keeping me on pace and at least attempting to discourage me from pursuing two majors that share little coursework. When I defied all logic and did it anyway, they helped me then, too.

On the day of graduation, I will have completed two majors — neither of which were the ones I declared when I started at Weber State — and I know a huge part of that is because of the people I met and the experiences I had.

If you’re graduating alongside me, finally taking a deep breath after trekking through the mountains of homework, hundreds of credit hours and half-a-dozen once-in-a-lifetime events, take a moment to celebrate that even when the world itself conspired against us, we made it through anyway, and we are the better for it.