Graduating editors say goodbye to the Star

By Michael Urbanec & Tom Burton

Always be willing to learn

Michael Urbanec | Sports Editor

I wasn’t well prepared when Madison Kacer hired me as a news reporter for the Northern Star in fall 2017. I came in with the same story many of our writers have: We were all told we were good writers at some point.

I’m pretty sure I didn’t have a single piece of my work published the first month I worked here. I was bad. I hated cold-calling people; I always got anxious doing street interviews, and finding sources was a problem.

I was pretty ill-suited to the profession I decided to major in, but the Star stuck with me. Before long, I was assistant news editor for a three-person news staff. My literal response when asked if I was interested was, “Uh, if nobody else wants to do it, sure.” There’s no world in which that’s enough people to handle a section, but we made it work.

I fell in love with this job in the process of aiding then-news editor Lindsey Salvatelli and current news editor Jessie Kern with keeping the section moving forward.

That semester ended, and I had the job of sports editor thrown into my lap. Again, the sentence, “Uh, if nobody else wants to do it, sure,” played a role in me getting the job.

I’ve enjoyed my time as sports editor despite my initial reluctance. I’m proud of the changes I’ve been able to make, and leaving the Star behind is one of the hardest things I’ll ever have to do. Somewhere along the line, my work here became more important than anything else in my life, and once I cross the graduation threshold, it becomes little more than a series of words on my resume.

Any student who is unsure of whether or not they have the time to join a student organization or student newspaper needs to bite the bullet, and just do it. Life is going to be full of extra tasks we don’t have time for. Working here has made me realize pushing myself to do things I’m unsure of makes me a better person and has better prepared me for a professional career, whether I continue to work as a journalist or not.

The Northern Star has played an important role in helping me grow as a person. I’ve made a lot of friends and memories working here. I wish Sam Malone and the rest of the new editorial board the best because, obviously, this place is going to fall apart without me.

For the record, I fully intend on being that annoying alum that goes through every issue with a fine-toothed comb to let the editors know what they did wrong.

I haven’t gotten hired anywhere yet, so what else have I to do with my time?

Take time to be a Huskie

Tom Burton | Assistant News Editor

DeKalb isn’t necessarily the most glamorous place to call home for several years of your college tenure, but this is a special place filled with opportunities.

As I stood on the grounds of Ford Field in Detroit last week to watch the NIU football team come from behind and win against Buffalo in the Mid-American Conference Championship, it occurred to me that NIU doesn’t have the “school spirit” it needs from its students.

One thing that seems to go unnoticed is how college is full of unique outlets for personal and professional growth students don’t always seem to take advantage of. It’s so much more than getting through your classes and figuring out where the next party is.

Whether it’s getting an on-campus job, joining a club or simply attending an NIU sporting event, I encourage students to fill up their schedules, and take advantage of every facet of being a Huskie.

Throughout my tenure at NIU, I’ve hardly ever passed on an opportunity to get a new experience, and the Northern Star has truly been an unforgettable one. Before working at the Northern Star, I always looked up to those who did and thought to myself, “Wow, that would be the coolest college job.”

I applied for the Star at least three times, maybe four. I was washing dishes at the dining hall hoping one day I would finally get the call from the Northern Star, and it happened in February of 2016 when I was hired as a sports writer.

That smell of dirty dishwater will always resonate with me.

I am currently serving in the news section as assistant editor after being sports editor last year, a job I dreamed of having since I started. The Star has opened up other opportunities around campus, which have made me grow tremendously as a person and in my career goals.

All of the hours in the office were never considered “going to work” for me. It was time I truly wanted to spend for the betterment of the newspaper that will always have a special place in my heart.

I write this as my last published piece for the Star, and it’s a bittersweet feeling, but it makes me happy to know others can now fill the shoes of the great experiences I’ve had with this publication.

At the very least, I encourage students to pick up their copy of the Northern Star to keep up with what’s going on around campus. The Star is surrounded by people and talented journalists who genuinely care about this newspaper, and I would hope that students continue to take pride in their campus and what’s going on around it.

People before me have said in the past, “Don’t let our Star fade,” and mine will always shine bright. Thank you, Northern Star, for everything.