This is not an article I believed I would have to write, at least not at this point in my college career. I am leaving The Badger Herald, and this is my goodbye and thank you for everything, from start to finish.

The reasons for my departure are complicated, but boil down to a new beginning in the Wisconsin Athletic Department as a reporter, which will prevent me from continuing on at the Herald. I wouldn’t feel comfortable writing a piece like this if I didn’t know that my dream position is waiting for me next semester and that this paper was the biggest reason for getting me there.

When I first walked into the Herald offices at as a bright-eyed freshman, I sat down on a couch in front of my future bosses and mentors, Chris Bumbaca, Eric Goldsobel and Nick Brazzoni as they opened a package. Inside that package was a signed football from the ESPN “College Gameday” crew, and I knew right then and there that I wanted to do whatever it was these guys were doing on a daily basis.

I started as a men’s soccer beat reporter and experienced what it was like to write for a team that didn’t seem to win home games, especially when wind chill didn’t reach more than 10 F, and I couldn’t figure out the bus system. Despite the struggles, the enjoyment I felt from writing about that team and publishing stories for a probable audience of three people convinced me I was doing something right or losing my mind.

I went on to men’s hockey in the winter, football in the spring and was thrown into an editor position I had no proper training for, or was probably right for, the third week back on campus this year. That first month, the phrase “learning curve” took on a whole new meaning to me.

Just by saying yes to an editor position, I suddenly had six articles to publish, two meetings, one print issue and my own personal beat to cover weekly.

Through it all, however, my own personal friend and superior editor David Hayes, alongside the unending wisdom of Bumbaca, got me through probably the toughest adjustment of my college career. I got to visit The Big House for a game against Michigan, step on the field of The Camp during an Ohio State game overtime and watch in agony as the Badgers fell in Indianapolis.

The experiences I have had over this short two year period are some of the most amazing moments of my life, but don’t even compare to the relationships I have had with my colleagues and friends along the way. I still have my credential tags from Lucas Oil Stadium, and I still scroll through pictures of the memories I will never forget, but the relationships I built are what will truly be carried with me as I move on to the next chapter.

From the editors I mentioned, to the amazing writers I had, to every other staff member that helped me along the way, the Herald has pushed me to become a professional and a journalist, in every sense of the words. Two years ago, I would have never believed the skills I would develop in the second floor office of an otherwise abandoned restaurant complex would be second to none, but nothing is closer to the truth.

I understand my words won’t, and shouldn’t, mean as much as Bumbaca’s or Nolan Beilstein’s, but I hope those who read this know how much I truly loved working at this paper. I got the opportunity, as an underclassman, to experience sights that my 8-year-old self, watching SportsCenter every day before school, wouldn’t believe.

I am now working in the Athletic Department of my dream school, something my soon-to-be 21-year-old self still can’t even believe. That dream, however, comes at a price: leaving a job that has given me nothing but joy two years too short.

Thank you to everyone who read my articles and supported my work. The positive feedback I have received over what seems like a long, but not long enough, two years is overwhelming.

I hope those who make it this far, especially at the Herald, know that I put just about everything I had into this paper, from Day 1 to today. I didn’t finish what I had originally set out to, but I started something that I never intend to finish: becoming the best journalist I can be and representing the Herald along the way.