Bittersweet goodbyes


Kirsten Jansen, Photo Editor

When I started my journey in photojournalism back in 2019, I never thought I would fall so in love with it. I had always loved photography and thought about doing something with it, but I was not too sure about the journalism part.

I soon learned that I loved writing just as much as I loved photographing, it gave me a way to tell the story of a photo more in depth and express what I wanted people to get from my photos. 

My first story I did was actually all writing and no photography, it was more of a public service announcement that listed events coming up at the Shake Library. It was my first time writing, and I was nervous and worried so I took on a small project to dip my feet in.

From then on I worked my way toward larger stories with more meaning and really worked on incorporating photos into my stories.

Although I wrote many stories about several different topics, there were those that really stuck out and had special meaning to me.

My story titled “Custom cars honor veterans” is especially special and unique to me considering it was not a planned story. As a car lover I offered to go to our VU car show and take some photos for a photo gallery, but while there I found something much more than cars. I found two veterans who had dedicated their cars to those who served, and those in their families that served or are serving currently.

These gentlemen had some great stories to tell, and really opened my eyes to what I wanted to do for a career.

Interviewing and writing that story really set in stone for  me that this is where I belonged. This is what I wanted to do with my life. 

It went on from there with each story I did. I continued to improve and learn new ways to write and engage my audience, while still expressing myself and the message. 

Through this I was able to find what I really wanted to focus my work on, and that was telling the stories of others. These stories are what we call feature stories in journalism, where you feature or tell the story of someone or a group. It has absolutely nothing to do with the writer and everything to do with telling that individual’s story through words and pictures.

This led me to an opportunity to write for the VU alumni association, making me a published writer in their alumni magazine. I also have my own bio in the newspaper, which to me was an honor and gave me more validation that I had chosen the right major.

Not only did I find my love for writing,I expanded my love for photography and photo editing. I earned my title as photo editor and really took it seriously, working to make sure every picture that was associated with the Trailblazer newspaper had good quality and imagery to it. Every picture that was taken went through me before they ever printed or posted for the public to see.

Of course with success comes failure as well, no one is perfect. As a writer I had to learn this quickly, I struggled with perfection when it came to writing. This led to many cases of writer’s block which often led to me walking away from a story after staring at a screen for hours with no progress or losing sleep over thinking about a story and trying to figure it out.

That never stopped me, if anything it sparked a flame in me to beat the block and write a great story that I would be proud of. I can honestly say that I have put my whole heart into every story I have ever written in my time at The Trailblazer.

With all this being said my time has come to a close, and it is a bittersweet feeling. I have met so many new friends and interesting individuals through journalism and for that I am forever grateful. Specifically I need to mention Trey Van Natta who has become one of my closest friends simply because of journalism. She is a killer writer and no matter what she chooses to do in life, I know she will kill it, and I will be rooting her own all the way. So chase your dreams Trey, that goes for the rest of my fellow classmates.

If you are thinking about majoring in any kind of journalism at VU or any other college, my advice is go for it. Honestly it was the best decision I ever made, and would not change a thing about the choices I made leading me to my photojournalism major.

Thank you to everyone who ever believed in me, especially my “journalism gang”, you were my other family that made me feel welcomed, safe and loved. 

The VU Trailblazer journalism lab will always be in my heart, and my time there will never leave my mind.

With all that said,I’m passing the torch on to the next class. Chase your dreams and enjoy it while it lasts.