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Goodbye to our graduating staff members

Danielle Everson – Hmmm, what can I say? Interviewing is truly where my heart is. I love to hear people tell their story and report on the latest news. Presenting news to my fellow VSU students has brought me joy and, I must admit, a little stress over the past few years. Overall, letting students know exactly what was happening on their campus has truly been an experience.
But now it’s finally time to say goodbye. I will miss the late Wednesday nights of writing articles on breaking news. I will miss getting awarded for digging through budgets and determining where student fees are spent. And I will definitely miss my staff, and of course friends of the Spectator.
I now relinquish my princess crown and leave my throne of managing editor to a king, Ed Hooper, and assistant queen, Desiree Thompson. Be sure to work together and cover everything newsworthy on campus to the best of your ability. However, I am sure Amy will make sure everything is “copasetic.”
Finally, I believe that I can take what I have learned here at Valdosta State University and the Spectator and use it in my future career of journalism. Blazers, write on

Ashley George – So, after three years on The Spectator it is hard to believe it’s coming to an end. I never thought I would be an Editor seeing as I hated my first semester on staff and vowed to never go back the next semester. The next semester came, however, and God led me back here for some reason and I’m glad he did. It’s been an interesting time; through interviews and the Spectator staff I’ve met people I would have never met just going to classes. I found a love for features, a passion to be a voice for the little guy and a place to belong at college.
I’ll miss late nights on Wednesday, I’ll miss silly arguments and playing around. Michael, I’ll miss our talks and all your strange jokes. Thanks for praying with me when I needed it. Danielle, I’ll miss how you put things in perspective. I’m glad we could share that epic grade in literary journalism. Lee, I’ll miss fighting with you, you always gave the best reactions. Amy, I’ll miss how funny you get when you are angry about something, same for Kenny but with Kenny it was more often. Francesca, I’ll miss the coolest hippie I ever knew. Rachel, you made the paper look so much smarter. Crissie, I’ll miss your reactions to how weird I acted sometimes; I think you’re the most balanced of all of us. Thank you so much, Ted, for always being there to answer all my questions and thank you, Dr. Miller, for being so hard on me. Good bye Ed…you’re crazy. Goodbye Jessica, you owned in British Literature. Good luck on being Features Editor, Amber, don’t beat up Noah too much. And Molly, one word, “Shepard.”

Lee Johnson – It’s been an interesting few years working on The Spectator staff – and I won’t miss any of it.
I’m just kidding.
I have learned so much from getting my hands dirty, messing up and eventually succeeding. From the first editorial (which was labeled “shit” – verbatim, I swear) to going nose to nose with a national organization, it has been an adventure. There’s not much I can say that many will understand, and for those that don’t, I do have one piece of advice: do something on campus. From The Spectator to Blaze FM; from VSU TV to SGA and everything in between, just do something that will allow you hands-on experience.
For my newspaper folks I leave you with a thought, just a thought.

Rachel Wayne – I only had three semesters with The Spectator, but enjoyed every minute of it. I kinda wish I had been able to interact with everyone more. I will definitely miss the staff; I may have been sitting here with headphones plowing through story after story, but I was paying attention to the shenanigans. I’ve met some really cool people; being here was more like hanging out than working, and I’ll admit I sometimes dragged out my work so I could be here longer.
I’ll miss all the pop culture discussions, rants against “Twilight” and Taylor Swift, and the inevitable confusion when someone sees me switch from Lady Gaga to Avenged Sevenfold on my YouTube. I’ll miss the front-page drawing contests and soda runs. I’ll definitely miss the free pizza. Ashley and Amy and Fran, thanks for letting me squeeze in my own pieces when space allowed, and thanks Ashley for the double-bylines. Thanks Lee for your perpetual Pandora that provides us all with awesome music. Thanks Crissie for your always informative Pop Addict. Thanks Amber and Molly for being cool to talk to, being fellow geeks and all. In general, thanks to everyone for what to do and who you are; it’s been a treat getting to know you all.
VSU students: I am leaving you beyond. Those of you who know me will hear in person (or via Facebook) how much I appreciate you. These are my words for everyone, though: pay attention to your world. You’re students, in charge of your education and in possession of great potential to change the world. There are things happening on your campus, in your community, your nation, your body and relationships, and in your heart that you CAN control. Live responsibly. Show others respect and apply what you’ve learned in college and life. Good luck.

Kenny Bush – Can you believe it, Blazers? Five years of pursuing higher education, and all I have to show for it is a framed sheet of paper for my wall that says I graduated from Valdosta State University. But I must say, VSU, it sure was an experience I’ll never forget.
Unless I suffer a severe blow to the head, of course.
Since 2008, I have been writing rants and social commentary for you guys and gals on issues that I thought were worth your attention. Together, we tackled politics, college trends, and irrational fears. It was quite a ride. And even though some of you didn’t like what you heard and expressed a desire for me to burn in hell, some of you also encouraged me and supported one article after another. Regardless of which side of that line you found yourself on, your comments helped me along as a writer.
Writing for you has been an experience that, somewhere along the line, became the foundation of a career. For this, I thank you. Thank you for the compliments and the insults. Thank you for reading my articles and discussing the content. Thank you for posting my articles on the doors and ripping them to shreds. Regardless if you loved it or hated it, thank you for reading your Wake Up Call.
And thank you Spectator, for allowing me to have this experience.
Good luck with your future Blazers.
From your friend,
The Guy in the Hat

Crissie Elrick – Just as I start to like this place, my tenure here comes to a screeching halt. After two years at VSU, I finally found a group of talented individuals to surround myself with. As a beginner Blazer in 2008, I didn’t know anyone, and things got really frustrating for me. But when the Spectator staff welcomed me as the new photo editor in fall 2009, things changed. Everyone evolved from acquaintances to a family. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being around positive people in a fast-paced and hectic environment. My outlook of VSU and life has changed immensely, especially after becoming a part of such a wonderful group of people.
Danielle, thanks for always keeping me in-check with everything. Without you, I know I would be lost. Francesca, thanks for always making me laugh, no matter what. You have the most awesome stories of anyone I know. Ashley, your bright spirit always lifted mine, even on the worst days. Amy, I admire your perseverance. You show those cops who’s boss, girl. Lee, I won’t judge you. I’ve enjoyed being desk neighbors, and good luck in Sylvester. Michael, even though I give you hell, I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you. Rachel, thanks for editing all my Pop Addicts, good luck!
To the rest of the staff, good luck with everything! To my successor, Jessica, I know you’ll do a fantastic job. Ted, thanks for the doughnuts and advice. Dr. Miller, thanks for making me a better journalist. So long VSU!

Francesca Zagami – After an epic, six-year pursuit, I am more than ready to throw this goodbye together, snatch that diploma, and board a one-way flight to Hawaii.
I seriously suck at goodbyes so I am going to start with thanks.
Lee, your creative impulses and damn-fine musical taste led the Spectator in a direction I proudly followed—and I am not much for following. Danielle, I don’t watch TV, but I will when you are on. Ashley, thanks for shaping my first Spectator story and showing me how to rock out on Sundays. Kenny, you have helped me rise to new and exciting levels of sarcasm and wit. Crissie, you and your pictures are beautiful—thanks for commiserating girl. MountainMan Michael, you freaking rock. Rachel, you are an angel who swoops in from copy-editor heaven and saves us from our embarrassing errors. Bless you. Amy, Amy, Amy… you got this. Ed, Eileen, Jessica, and Molly, good luck. Jen, stay chill man.
Ted, thanks for all the wisdom, energy, and doughnuts; you’re the best. Dr. Miller, you nearly killed me but thanks—I think. Oh, and to Dr. Davey, Dr. Peguesse, Dr. Hall, Dr. Richards, and all the other professors I loved to hear lecture, thanks for your passion: It’s contagious.
Goodbye VSU and thanks for all the quotes. Keep on Blazing.

Michael Wilson – I can’t say that I am sad that my final days at Valdosta State have arrived. I can’t say that I wish I didn’t have to go. I am ready for this; the time is now.
I can say that I will miss this place. I can say that I made some of the best friendships that I could ask for during my four years in this place.
What I will say, however, is this; Thank you.
Thank you to my professors for pulling, pushing, and hating me all the way through my degree. Thank you Dr., yes I said Dr. Ted Geltner for being an awesome newspaper advisor and showing me the meaning of ethics. A very special thanks to Dr. Pat Miller for giving me the chance to be an editor despite my lack of journalistic understanding. You have sharpened my focus and my writing, thank you.
Thank you to all VSU athletics for giving me a great subject to cover and learn from for the past two years, especially to Shawn Reed.
Thank you to my co-workers; Ashley for not making too much fun of me, and Amy for always looking the other way or something to that effect. Thank you to Crissie for putting up with my photo demands and mildly unbearable behavior. And to Kenny Bush for just being the best VSU political commentator and for introducing me to Ska. Thanks Danielle for being so understanding, and Francesca for always being the first one to laugh for better or worse. Thank you, Ed Hooper, for saving my editing life on several occasions. Finally, thank you Lee Johnson for rounding out the man corner and being a great EIC.
The past four years have been more than I expected and they couldn’t have come to a better close. Thanks for your readership I am not soon to forget what you offered to me and for that I am eternally grateful.

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