Leaving Auburn would come too early at any time. There’s still work to be done and stories to be written and fun times to be had.
After four years at The Auburn Plainsman, I leave with a full heart.
More than 200 articles and over 50 early morning deliveries, but I still cringe at the thought of leaving Auburn. The Plainsman has given me far more than a byline, though.
The Plainsman was support when I was slipping. The Plainsman was a push in tenuous times. It was the confidence boost I never knew I could use. It gave me a future. It gave me permission to be my loud, curious and determined self.
I’m not here to tell anyone they must agree with this staff or even like us. Please, by all means, continue to push your local journalists, asking them to do more and be better. I do not write so you can see us any differently than the journalists stopping you on a corner.
I can’t move forward without expressing gratitude to the institution and the staffs who have worked for it. The Plainsman has changed my life.
To those who have suffered through my budget meetings or dealt with my off-the-wall story pitches, bless you.
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To those readers who have followed my work, I am honored and working for you is the reason I picked this career.
To those in our community who have allowed me to tell your stories, I am awestruck at your bravery — your dedication to truth and a better Auburn community.
I never wanted to love Auburn because it was just a stopping place on my way to a world in which I was on my own.
I never wanted to be a journalist because the path is not a smooth one, and the pay is crap. Walking across that stage would be far easier if I left without a sense of connection to this place.
I obviously failed because I leave with part of my heart left behind.
With all that must be done to create a more stable climate of acceptance, love and safety on Auburn’s campus, I find myself ripped apart at the thought of leaving The Plains.
As a friend and hero once said, the news may seem negative, but only because strife and bad things that happen are news. News is, by definition, out of the ordinary, and it is different.
Good things are often not news because the good outweighs the bad, I swear by it. It is important to remind yourself that with all the mess, there is goodness.
And that goodness can grow with the help of a rag-tag group of student-journalists. I watched it happen every day.
To be frank, it is hard to imagine my life without the windowless hole in the bottom of the Student Center that is our office. Because of what this small-town paper did for me, I can move forward.
Because of the leadership and companionship of my editor and best friend, Chip Brownlee, I, too, can lead and be led.
Because of the guidance from adviser Alec Harvey and professor Phillip Rawls, I, too, can write, read and question.
Because of the generosity of Jennifer Adams and John Carvalho, I, too, a very cruddy student could graduate from Auburn University having pushed boundaries with humor and argumentation.
Because of the rich history of The Plainsman and the pressure to uphold virtue and ethics, I, too, trust the process and respect the daily task of documenting Auburn’s story.
Because of readers, I, too, have learned to not tread lightly, pursue the truth with vigilance and consider all hearts and minds when delving into issues.
Because of the inspiring and diligent staff I was blessed with, I, too, have learned how to care deeper about progress, resilience and collaboration.
Because This Is Auburn, The Auburn Plainsman will always have work to do.
Godspeed and get it to print.
Lily Jackson, graduating senior in journalism, is a two-time managing editor of The Auburn Plainsman.
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