Luther: Goodbye from a Graduate

Take yourself back to five years ago. What were you doing with your time? What were your favorite hobbies, your hopes and dreams, your frustrations, your goals? Are you where you hoped to be? 

I think back. Five years. It feels so long and yet it was over in a short moment. Like a match, striking hot and bright, but gone moments later, leaving singed fingers and the smell of soot in the air–a symbol that the match was in fact there. 

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I remember my first days, weeks, months, even years at Oregon State. In the fall of my senior year of high school, I took senior photos in Corvallis, a two-hour drive away from my hometown, just for the love of the school and the campus, before I even decided where I’d be going to college. You can guess it was an easy decision for me once it came down to it. 

But college is hard. It’s difficult. It changes you. It makes you think about yourself and the world around you in ways that are important but uncomfortable. It’s not just about hanging out with friends or laughing together on a late-night frozen yogurt run. It’s about challenging yourself to become a better person, a more complete version of yourself. 

If you don’t find the ways to take on these chances for change head-on, they will seek you out. I found my way of becoming a better version of myself with Orange Media Network and Beaver’s Digest. 

There are moments when you don’t know the impact of your decision, the weight hanging on that second. Mine was signing up to write for Beaver’s Digest, on a whim, in the first week of fall term my freshman year. I was ambitious. Driven. I wanted to be a leader. But oh, freshman me had so much to learn, so much to go through before I was ready. 

But I didn’t know that yet. I hadn’t grasped the multitude of triumphs and challenges I would face. 

I jumped in feet first, writing and learning along the way, leaning on great editors and leaders within our organization for guidance and as examples of the kind of leader I wanted to be. 

My sophomore and junior year were slightly further away from OMN, less as an employee and more as a supporter, but I engaged, proud to watch those that had started with me grow into their own leadership roles. 

After many failures–and joys–I was graced with the opportunity to take the skills and leadership development I had outside of OMN and bring those lessons back as the OMN Sports Editor for my senior year. And I loved every minute of it. Even those that felt impossible with a pandemic shaking up our world. 

I laughed. I cried. I shook my fists in frustration. I watched and learned from my peers as they took on challenges I never thought imaginable with grace, poise, thoughtfulness, love, hope. I found it impossible to imagine my last year at Oregon State and as a grad student without the love and support that pours through the walls–even virtual ones–at Orange Media Network and on the fourth floor. 

I saw our leaders take on the challenges of a pandemic, the calling of a national and global social justice movement, the fears of political and social dissent and unrest. I was inspired, deep into my core, by the passion found throughout this organization. 

So I returned, blessed once again, this time my journey running full circle back to Beaver’s Digest. 

Freshman me wanted to be editor in chief of the medium someday. 

Little did I know not only that the dream would come to fruition, but that it would be the most impactful and beautiful leadership experience I would encounter in my time as a student at Oregon State. 

Every difficult moment, every tear, every laugh, every joy–Orange Media Network not only made me who I am today over the years, but gave me the chance to become myself and the leader I could have only hoped to be. 

I could go on for pages about the love I have for this organization and this medium. I would gladly name every person who has made me, Beaver’s Digest, Orange Media Network, our whole community what it is. 

But that’s not the point. 

Because beyond anything that I have learned, I walk away knowing that legacy is not about ourselves. It isn’t solely what I gained from the experience, or even my personal or professional accomplishments throughout the years. It’s not even about the single individuals who have made me or these organizations who we are. 

Legacy is about lighting the spark, walking away and knowing that just because your flame has burned out, your light has struck those around you and lit their matches as well. 

Because what is a legacy if it ends with us? What is a legacy if we only choose to walk away when it selfishly fails to serve us anymore? 

No. Our goal should be to light the match, the fire of passion and resilience in those around us, knowing that when our chapter has closed, we know that they will only create an even bigger impact than we ourselves could only dream of. 

So now, five years after my fire and passion for this organization was sparked, I walk away with only love and hope for Beaver’s Digest and Orange Media Network. 

I dream about the day I look back five, ten, fifty years from now and can still see the imprint of my time here with matches of passion glowing brighter ever still.