The first time I tried to attend a new members meeting at The Badger Herald as a freshman, the door was locked. I stood there for a little bit, knowing only that I wanted to join a student newspaper, before eventually turning around. At my dorm, I looked up meetings for the Daily Cardinal.

But for some reason, I went back to the Herald the next day —  this time welcomed by its stale, musty, old beer smell. I climbed the obnoxiously steep three flights of stairs and questioned myself again.

From there, there was no looking back as I embraced the all-consuming lifestyle that is the Herald.

In the three-and-a-half years since I climbed those stairs, I have found my best friends, laughed until I cried at the constant office antics, cried until I laughed when my fully edited news pages were lost at deadline, eaten enough Noodles to last a lifetime, spent numerous 12-plus hour days in the office without batting an eye and gone to the White House.

In my time at the Herald, I’ve seen it move from printing four times a week, to two times a week, to once a week. Through all of the changes, the Herald has only grown stronger, embracing a new print product and expanding its digital and multimedia coverage — a testament to the Herald’s birth as an experiment.

The Badger Herald gave me an education that no other institution could provide. Beyond the basics of how to write well and craft a good lede, the Herald taught me how to work hard, take things in stride and stay positive. The Herald also taught me how to prioritize, and recognize that telling and doing justice to an impactful story is much more important than an assignment due the next day (my GPA probably doesn’t agree).

For all the wonderful memories made in the office, it has also been the contributor to the biggest stresses in my life. Managing a staff and making editorial decisions is difficult. I made many mistakes at the Herald, and I was forced to learn from them and find ways to move on from them — to change what I could and accept that past decisions could not be undone.

It’s been in my toughest and lowest moments in these past years that the Herald has given me the most support. It’s easy to point to Bozo Buckets and softball games and nights at Plaza as indicators of how close, fun and loving the staff is. But it’s the fact that when I’m dealing with a crisis or particularly vulnerable that I can turn to anyone in the office or call up any alumni for advice and support that proves to me that working at the Herald truly means being part of a family.

I’m handing over my keys to the ever-capable Hayley Sperling, who will continue to lead the Herald to success with her strong editing and leadership skills and innovative ideas.

With a whole lot of love and appreciation, I’m heading down the stairs for the last time as EIC. BH4LYFE.