The article above ran in the Moraine Valley Glacier newspaper in 2013. An editor interviewed me on my time there.
Moraine Valley Community College gave me an experience more than just good classes and inspiring professors. It gave me leadership skills, confidence and great friends I met working on the Moraine Valley Glacier newspaper.
Under the guidance of newspaper advisor Ted Powers, we worked to the best of our ability to put out an award-winning paper. We took pride in our work, and the paper to us was just as important as our classes. Ted saw something in me and after a few weeks working that first year in 2004, he promoted me to News Editor, where I covered school board meetings and any important news events at the school. The following year, I accepted the job as Editor in Chief. I was nervous about it, but looking back, I'm glad I did it.
The roles taught me leadership skills. We worked to get the paper the best we could make it, and I was proud to work alongside such talented editors and staff. Whenever a story needed to be covered, I was happy to do it. Whenever a page needed to be designed or a story needed to be copy edited, I was happy to do it. Whenever an editor or reporter needed to be trained, I was happy to do it. It was preparing me for the journalism teacher that I am today.
I covered some amazing stories in my time at a small community college newspaper.
I wrote a review about the band Anthrax, and I got to see them live for free at the House of Blues. That was the concert that I saw a pair of blue jeans fly in the air from the mosh pit. I interviewed bassist Frank Bello on the phone before the show.
I got to see a live intimate acoustic set for Beatles' cover band American English. Even though I saw them a number of times before, I never saw them play this way. They played in a classroom at Moraine, and afterward, I got to interview their Paul.
I went to opening night of Second City's Rod Blagojevich Superstar!. Not only was it hilarious, but afterward, we stayed for the cast party. I enjoyed pizza and beer with the cast and a few Illinois politicians. How cool is that?
The crowning jewel of my time there was when my friend Rob Siebert and I wrote about then Senator Barack Obama's speech to the Moraine Valley campus. We interviewed him after the speech. He had no problem interviewing with us, and spoke to us like human beings, unlike when I interviewed Rod Blagojevich and Judy Baar Topinka years later. We wrote the story that day and published the paper the same day we wrote it. It was a terrific feeling.
Our adviser saw something in us, so perhaps that's why he took us on all those trips to Eastern Illinois University to compete for journalism awards. And perhaps that's why he took us to Los Angeles to compete for the national awards. In Los Angeles, I recall my name being called up to the front of the stage to accept the award for the "Second Best Newspaper Bi-Monthly in the Country." We were blown away. What an honor that was.
Nothing was sweeter though than spending those days and long nights with your friends. When you work layout night into the wee hours of the morning confined to a small little office, you are almost forced to form a bond. And that's just what we did. We ordered out food and stopped whatever we did to relax and talk to each other. We played music, joked, and we even played a makeshift volleyball game in the office on layout night one time to keep us sane.
We try to have an annual Glacier reunion party every year. The time I spent there was priceless, and to part ways with the people I spent it with would be a tragedy.
The time I spent there also prepared me for the next time in my journalism life at another great school, Eastern Illinois University. Had it not been for Moraine Valley, I may have been overwhelmed on EIU's daily paper, but I was ready to take it head on once I got there.
When I graduated from EIU, I briefly returned to Moraine to design the newspaper's website. It was the first time they ever had a site. Even though their site runs on a different platform today and looks vastly different than it had when I built it on Dreamweaver, it was the start of a whole new era. I was glad that I was able to contribute so much to a school that gave me so much.
Whenever I see my friends, I think of both the great time we shared and the great times that lie ahead. I tell my students that there is nothing wrong with community college, and that it can be more than just a place to get your basic classes out of the way. Not only did I get that wonderful experience on the paper, but it also paid for those basic classes because I served as an editor. I will always remember my time there with a smile. It helped make me the person that I am today, and I am forever grateful for that.