It’s 2 a.m. on a Saturday night, and I’m nowhere near Richmond Row. No, instead, I write this to you as an episode of Friends plays on my friend’s computer — a friendship brought to us by virtue of the Gazette.

I’ve always been a writer, but I never thought I would make it as a journalist. It always seemed like one of those career options that were a little too far-fetched. Yet, when I arrived at the Gazette in my second week of my first year at Western, I didn’t quite know it yet, but I had found home.

It’s strange writing this out. Every editor’s experience at the Gazette is a unique one, and there are a select few that experience it the way I have — as an integral part of every single year of my four years at Western. It is without a doubt that I wouldn’t be where I am today without it. Heck, I wouldn’t even be the photographer that I am without the Gazette teaching me the skills that I now know.

And yet, here I am. For me, goodbyes have always been hard. Every year that I’ve been at the Gazette, I’ve had to say goodbye to journalists and writers who have been mentors and inspirations. This year, it’s my turn.

Within a matter of days, I’ll be joining the long list of proud Gazette alumni — and not just saying goodbye but leaving the province all together — and I couldn’t be more excited — but I also couldn't be more sad.

I’ll be saying goodbye to the office that has seen me through my university career, my career changes and ultimately the guiding path to my passion. I’ll also be saying goodbye to the office that has seen me through too many all-nighters.

I probably shouldn’t mention how many nights I’ve spent editing stories, videos or photos in the office, only to crash on the back couch before continuing in the early morning. I’ll be saying goodbye to the distractions and tangents that my fellow editors have gone on when we should have been working on stories. I’ll be saying goodbye to the water cooler conversations that are often wildly unrelated to work — and yes, water cooler conversations are definitely a thing. 

I’ll also be saying goodbye to my desk, and the miscellaneous pile of books that I’ll have to take with me when I leave — I’m sure future editors will be grateful for this at least.

There are some days when I tell people I work for the Gazette and I hear a little laugh. Comments about us being fake news are lightheartedly passed, but at the end of the day there is an underlying respect for the work that we do. There are times now that after my four years here, I’ll meet someone only to hear them say, "Hey, you work for the Gazette, right? I’ve read your work — good stuff." It’s moments like these that remind me of how great of a decision I know I made back in my first year — my 18-year-old self really did have my back.

So for all of you reading these sappy accounts of the incredible place this paper is, I hope you take this as inspiration to walk through the doors that are so hard to find in the UCC. We’re an eclectic bunch, I can guarantee you that. But it will always be a place of learning, of home, and of acceptance, and I know that wherever I am, there will always be a piece of my heart that will find it's way to the Gazette time and again.