JONATHAN BARLAS |Editor in Chief| @janveselybarlas

It didn’t hit me until 1:21 a.m. Monday that this would be my final paper as a Vidette staffer.

My chest pounded, rapidly reminiscing on three years’ worth of editions and memories as they all collided into a single thought – like my life flashed before my eyes.

Truth be told, this is something I didn’t want to write – striving to savor my last few weeks as editor in chief.

Ultimately, getting caught up in the emotions that would soon follow, dealing with goodbyes have been bittersweet. However, I didn’t expect that longing for a traditional send-off would make me appreciate my time spent at The Vidette more.

Last April, I half-heartedly applied to become EIC, unsure if this was something that I wanted to do for myself. I constantly toiled for weeks over the decision of either building upon my experience as an editor in chief or staying in safety of the sports section. In the end, I’m glad I took a leap of faith when it mattered most.

I stood patiently in a corner on the top floor at the State Farm Hall of Business, listening to music to calm my nerves. Awaiting my turn to interview, my name was called within 10 excruciating minutes and weirdly, my nerves went away.

Walking into this intimidating top-floor conference suite not only excited me for what was ahead, but made me realize in that moment that I wanted this more than anything.

A year later with tons accomplished and with everything behind me, the only thing I feel now is gratitude in all the effort I’ve put into The Vidette. I can truly say that I’ve given everything I could to this place day in and day out; and honestly, nothing feels more satisfying than giving your all to something in which you have overly invested.

My experiences, relationships and Vidette family throughout my career all embody why I sincerely care about these roots as much as I do: It’s where I grew into who I am.

I wouldn’t have been able to do it alone either, as I want to give thanks to those who have made my time at The Vidette unforgettable.

Without the people who have helped me along the way, I never would have developed into the man and journalist I am. I’d be remiss to mention the guidance of friends in former co-editor Kade Heather, former editor in chief Becky Fletcher and former sports editors Mike Marra and Nate Head. I wouldn’t have been in this position without their insight, as I appreciate everything you all have taught me throughout my time as a Videtter. To my good friends at Loyola-Chicago in Nick Schultz and Abby Schnable, thank you for further showing me that even great relationships come from a mutual love of journalism.

To those who have been with me from the start, to Grace Barbic, thank you for being my shoulder to lean on in times of crisis, in moments of morale and most importantly in shots of celebration. Words can’t describe where I hold our friendship, so I’ll say this – as we’ve been saying since the very beginning – “we did the damn thing.”

To my senior Vidette photo editors in Ali Rapser and Jen Haiden, this last year teaming up for whatever we put our minds to weekly will always stay with me. Ali, flashback to Lollapalooza where Chance The Rapper retweeted the main account: We freaked out in the middle of Michigan Avenue for pretty much the rest of the day. This was one of my favorite coverages ever with one of my favorite people. I appreciate everything we’ve done together in our three years.

Jen, thank you for being the person I can trust with anything. Thank you for your tireless motivation and work ethic, I have no doubt you’ll be wherever your heart desires in the future as I have appreciated our friendship more than you know.

To incoming EIC Lizzie Seils: cherish this while it lasts, it truly goes by in a blink of an eye. You’re more than ready for this opportunity and you always have me for whatever you need. You're going to be great in every single way.

To Andrea: Never shy away from getting out of your comfort zone, time and time again this year I’ve seen how well you thrive in uncomfortable situations (i.e. Haunting at Williams Hall). Take this next year as a chance to be the best you can possibly be. Thank you for all the quality memes and jokes we’ve shared throughout our time in office. They will go down as some of the best The Vidette has ever seen.

Sports editors Jake and Jake: Thank you for all the crazy podcasts, insane sports debates and overall goofiness we’ve shared. My parting advice: Don’t lose sight of what you’ve built and make it better than before. I have full faith in you two take Vidette Sports to new heights in your second year together.

To the staff: While the memories I have of The Vidette span three years, everyone that has been a part of my Vidette family in one way or another does not compare to how undeniably special this group was. We made history together and that’s something that will be a part of our legacy when The Vidette is in our rearview mirror.

Watching you all grow right before my eyes during our time together has been the most amazing thing to witness. Past EICs have told me that I would experience this feeling when it was all said and done, but it’s something that is completely indescribable when I reflect on it now.

To John Plevka, thank you for being more than just a mentor, but a friend in both my best and worst moments. I’m forever grateful for the work we’ve done together and the lessons you’ve instilled in me over my career. I definitely owe you the first round at that Cardinals-Cubs game, though.

To all of you, you pushed me to be better for not only myself, but for you and the betterment of The Vidette. My heart is full – knowing that when I read these words 10 years down the road, they will still ring true.

Letting go is always the hardest thing to do at the finish line, but instead of feeling gloomy, I feel more motivated to tackle whatever is ahead of me. I’m ready because of the skills and the people that have grown alongside me during my time at Illinois State. The Vidette will always hold a special place in my heart, and knowing that I’ve poured everything I had into this is something I’ll forever cherish.

Even at the end of the road, there’s still so much more left to go. And as for me, I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

JONATHAN BARLAS is Editor in Chief of The Vidette. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @janveselybarlas

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