Dec. 15, 2014.

This date isn’t one I easily recall but it’s easily one of the most important ones in my life — it’s the day I first walked up the cinnamon-y smelling stairs at 152 W. Johnson St. And since then, I’ve not looked back.

Before The Badger Herald, I’d never thought too much about being a journalist. The most I’d done was write short news articles narrating the achievements of an environment club at my high school I’d signed up for.

But when a newsletter from an “independent, student-run newspaper” asking for contributors ended up in my inbox, I thought “hey, that could be me!” I soon found myself at The Badger Herald’s office back when the cafe downstairs was bustling and not just a creepy-looking room full of empty chairs and coffee tables.

I sat on the couch amid people I would soon consider my role models and some of the most talented journalists out there. After a brief tour and introductions, I received a form asking me about my experience and what I knew about The Herald (yes, we had those for reporters back then). In true Herald style, someone also gave me a beer koozie, which my freshman self used to hold a candle.

I still have a picture of that form filled out and when I look at it, it always humbles me to see how far I’ve come. And there is no way I could’ve done any of it alone.

The Badger Herald gave me the chance to meet and work with the most wonderful, patient and hardworking people I will ever know. Everything I know about writing and editing is because of them. Everything I know about why exactly an Oxford comma is not OK is because of them.

But also, they taught me how to be determined and strong even when things are falling apart. As cheesy as this sounds, The Badger Herald helped me find myself in a new place, at a time when I had no idea what to do with my life. In every byline and protest coverage video, I felt myself learning more and growing close to a country and people I knew little of.

I remember I nearly fainted from the stress of doing my first phone interview. But with each phone call after, I grew confident in my own abilities and got to talk to some really cool people! News may not entail interviewing celebrities, but educating fellow students about what’s important and happening has an unparalleled charm of its own. For someone who isn’t on the journalism track, this experience has been one that no psychology or economics class could ever give me — and man, I’m lucky to have had it!

I have held, and always will hold, every late night at the office, every beer t-shirt and every slice of PDR, close to my heart forever. Thank you Herald and everyone part of it for giving me a small, but very special, place to call my own for four (short) years.