Time at UW-W a life-changing journey

Brad Allen, Assistant Copy Editor

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My passion for journalism ignited at the age of 17. I was sitting in a high school photography class paging through a National Geographic magazine.

I realized I wanted to be a journalist instead of enlisting into the U.S. Army. A recruitment officer I was interning for encouraged this decision, along with my family.

I applied to several colleges, including UW-Whitewater.

My parents met here. They played Euchre and Sheepshead with friends in Clem Hall and supposedly danced on tables at parties.

That family legacy was partly why I came here.

But the deciding factor was the opportunity to work at the Royal Purple.

So, I attended UW-Whitewater, and what an amazing journey it was:

During freshman orientation, I waltzed into what I thought was a journalism networking event and mistakenly got caught up in theater auditions.

Sophomore round. I self-published a book.

Junior year, I wrote a story about butts. Hold the phone, it was about recycling cigarette butts.

I attended several professional networking events and won awards for stories I’d written.

As a senior and managing editor, I led a staff of fledgling reporters through a difficult year marked by high turnover and unruly criticism. I sported a dark brown ponytail and resembled a discount Will Turner.

My roommate Eli’s temperamental cat bit a hole clean through my earlobe, and my girlfriend’s brother disinfected the wound with Fleischmann’s vodka.

I took on a challenging and life-changing internship in Washington, D.C., this past summer.

Finishing strong as a super senior, I returned as a copy editor and helped mentor the next generation of journalists before going off into the real world.

Among the many people who made my years at UW-Whitewater great:

Michael Riley, Alex Zamecnik, Vesna Brajkovic and Carol Terracina-Hartman collectively took me under their wings when I first arrived with big dreams and little to no experience. They taught me the basics and gave me chances to get direct practice in the field.

Justin St. Peter, Jake Prinsen, Alena Purpero and Kirsten Tyrrell were all notable colleagues at the Royal Purple. They helped make the workplace a fun and nurturing environment.

Ashley McCallum and Kimberly Wethal were tough bosses and good friends. They challenged me to push my reporting abilities further and to never settle on submitting subpar work. They also learned of my appreciation for Pizza Ranch, in all its glory.

Brenda Echeverria, Garrett Kluever, Jack Miller and Kolton Hegstrom stuck things out despite all the curveballs thrown their way.

The “Loose Cannon,” Shannon Lojeski, performed exceptionally.

Dr. Keith Zukas and Mr. Sam Martino motivated me to be a leader.

Dr. James Kates was an influential professor since freshman year.

Riley Kauzlaric, Ben Pierce and Nicole Aimone each dove headfirst into journalism, like I did, and they’ve made waves at Royal Purple from the moment they walked in the door. I’m grateful to call them friends.

Trevor Peterson was my first roommate. All those late nights of video games, Netflix, UNO’s pizza and STEAK AND SHRIMP NIGHT at Drumlin Hall are all treasured memories.

Stephanie Ball and I met through a group of aspiring novelists. We connected over a shared passion for writing and appreciation of pets, which led to a closer friendship and grew into love over time. She was persistent while I was oblivious. She was patient and supportive while I interned in D.C. From our hiking adventures to the road trips, ice cream runs and water gun duels, she opened my eyes to unconditional love, but hasn’t convinced me that “dogs are better than cats.”

I’m grateful for the support of my close friends back home in Janesville and my grandparents, too.

My brother, Zac, mother, Marla, and father, Tim, are amazing role models. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

As I look back on my time here, I’m truly grateful. Looking ahead, I know that now is a truly important time for journalists to inform the public about current events and issues. Entering the field at this time is a trial by fire, and I’m ready.

Without further ado … it’s time to put on the gown and say goodbye to UW-Whitewater and the Royal Purple.

It’s been real.