Toward the end of my third year of college at the UA I was faced with a choice.

I was a double major at the time majoring in political science and journalism and in order to graduate on time I would have to drop one of those majors.

I enjoyed journalism, but law school has always been my goal, so I thought I might as well pursue political science and take some classes that might prepare me for law school.

It was a Friday and I was going to drop my journalism major that day.

I was in an introductory journalism course at the time and as I was leaving to go to see an adviser my graduate teacher Jose Lopez stopped me.

“Hey, you need to write for the Traveler,” he said.

At the time the Traveler seemed like a distant, intense world that I would never have time to commit to, but considering he was a former Editor-in-Chief I was flattered he thought I had the talent to work with the best students in the department.

“No, I really haven’t,” I said.

He then told me to follow him and we walked over to the Traveler office, better known by those who have given their souls to this windowless place in the underground of Kimpel Hall as “The Dungeon.”

I filled out an application to work for the paper and soon after I was hired as the assistant news editor.

Since that time I have met some of the best people I have ever known and I owe these people my gratitude.

To Professor Jordan whose wisdom has meant more to me than I can put into words, and don’t let his humble nature fool you, you won’t meet a better person.

To Saba Naseem who took a chance on me last year and without you I would not be where I am.

To Mattie Quinn who truly makes life worth living.

To Professor Schulte who truly taught me that no matter how well you do, you can always do better.

To Professor Ledbetter and Dr. Watkins who exemplified grace in a very stressful newsroom.

To all of the other journalism professors I had who helped guide me through my time in this place.

To Brittany Nims who always challenged me to be a better editor and who will go on to be a great editor.

To Emily Rhodes who kept me sane.

To Sarah Derouen for never giving up.

To Kayli Farris for stepping up when we needed another leader in news.

To Joe DelNero for always being that burst of fruit flavor we needed during dark times.

To Nick Brothers for your beard.

To Shelby Gill for always being honest.

To Kristen Coppola for your refusal to accept anything less than the very best.

To Haley Markle for always knowing exactly what to say.

To Marcus Ferreira who helped me remember the importance of the 1st amendment.

To Sarah Colpitts who has worked herself to death the last two years making my meticulous ideas a reality.

To Carson Smith who always managed to handle the most stressful situations with understanding.

To Mark Cameron for being a pioneer.

To Emily Delong for being so adaptable.

To Jon Schleuss for being that subtle seasoning that made everything complete.

To Whitney Green who managed to be an important part of the Traveler without ever being on staff.

To the writers, photographers, copy editors, cartoonists and everyone else who worked at the Traveler.

To my friends who worked on the paper last year Brady Tackett, Lauren Leatherby, Jordain Carney for giving me great memories and the confidence to be a leader.

And, of course, to Jose Lopez who gave me the idea to apply for the Traveler.

Finally, to next year’s staff, I wish the very best for all of you.  Unfortunately, I do not know all of you as well as I would like at this point, but I can say that if you can harness Mike Mahardy’s wit with Madelynne Jones’ energy then you will all do wonders next year.

Even as I am writing this more names and faces come to my mind from the last two years.  In my time working here more I would say more than 300 people have come and gone at this place.  It’s impossible to thank everyone.  But know that if you have worked at the Traveler then you’re part of the family.

Just remember, sometimes some great moments in your life and some of the best people you will meet come from an opportunity, like mine, that you weren’t expecting.  So, don’t ever be afraid to seize an opportunity even if you weren’t expecting it, because it could be one of the best decisions you ever make.

Chad Woodard is a graduating print journalism major, editor-in-chief of the Traveler, and preparing for Law School at the UA in the fall.

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