This is it — I can’t believe it’s here. After May 11, I will officially be a Kent State graduate.
It’s crazy; I remember walking into Olson Hall my freshman year and thinking to myself, “Wow, I can’t believe I’m in college.”
I never knew what adventures I would experience during the college story arc.
Phase one: freshman and sophomore year. I established my group of friends. The best friends that I could ever have. I met my father after 12 years of not speaking with him and meeting my brothers for the first time.
I joined a social fraternity, a move I never thought I would make.
I covered my first breaking news story at the end of my sophomore year. I remember going into adviser Sue Zake’s office, panicking about what to do.
Phase two: junior year. The year where the plot started to move.
I took a class where I reported on public policy for the first time ... and surprisingly passed. The saga of the 157 Lounge coverage began. I spoke with elementary school students in Cleveland about race and poverty.
I took the biggest step of my college career and traveled to Phoenix, Arizona, and reported on hate crimes in America. I got a chance to travel the country and visit different communities.
I met, worked with and became close friends with the 37 other journalists in the program. From almost dying from tubing to visiting the Grand Canyon, it was probably the greatest adventure I’ve ever experienced.
That is ... until phase three (senior year) started.
Laina Yost (former enterprise editor and dear friend) and I spent the fall semester of our senior year covering a gun rally. Kent State alumna Kaitlin Bennett organized an open-carry walk on campus to promote the discussion of the Second Amendment.
It started off OK because it was just normal coverage about an event. Then, she and Liberty Hangout got a cease and desist from the university and the plot thickened.
After the cease and desist, there were talks about white supremacists coming to campus. Then we heard Antifa was coming to campus to counterprotest.
The days of background reporting dragged on and on.
Sept. 29, 2018, arrived and the campus transformed from a peaceful establishment for higher education to a battlefield between Antifa and gun rights activists.
That might be a little dramatic, but the atmosphere of the campus changed.
While the coverage took a lot from Laina and I, it did receive some recognition for local and national news outlets.
Phase three continued with a light-hearted investigation of environmental issues in Ohio. As soon as winter rolled around, I was helping with the coverage of a former Kent State student accused of sexual assault.
Looking back at everything, it’s crazy to think how much I’ve done in college and I honestly owe it all to you guys: readers.
Whether you’re family, friends, colleagues or readers who love college journalism, this couldn’t have happened without you all.
Your support, love and guidance is something that I can’t express enough gratitude for. It’s bittersweet that this chapter of my life is ending, but that doesn’t mean it’s over.
Phase four begins soon and I’ll make sure to make you guys proud.
Whatever it takes. Love you 3,000.
Brandon Bounds is an assigning editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.