A Fond Farewell After Four Years at the Echo

Danny Reinan, copy editor

As a first-year student with debilitating social anxiety, walking into an Echo general meeting for the first time felt like entering a lion’s den. Students were crowded shoulder-to-shoulder in the tiny office, with many needing to stand because all of the seats were taken. The soundscape was a cacophonous clutter as the writers’ voices filled the entirety of the space, making me feel like I was drowning in noise. The staff rapid-fired article pitches with such speed and intensity that it left my head spinning. I timidly scrawled my initials on the white board next to an op-ed suggestion about environmentalism and fled the room. I was intimidated to say the least – but also awed by the passion of all of the writers around me. There’s no way I could’ve known at the time that this overwhelming introduction would be just the beginning of four joyous years co-creating with the Augsburg community.

I was initially a timid writer who struggled to find my voice and fall in step with the Echo’s distinct culture. The sensory shamble of the meetings continued to overwhelm me, and I feared that my perspective wasn’t worth publishing. The article that changed everything for me was a memoriam piece about Francine Chakolis, a trailblazing advocate who started the Master’s in Social Work program at Augsburg and fought tirelessly for racial equity in education. I was determined to properly honor her incredible life, and to that end, I dug through decades-old Echo issues, spoke to her colleagues and put my all into paying her tribute. The Features Editor at the time put the subsequent meeting’s breakneck pace on pause just to shout out my article, saying that it was “a shining example of what a Features article could be.” The smiles of the people around me lit up the room. The gratification only grew when I clutched my printed article in my hands. I could see my name and my words on the page, and could feel the possibility for them to genuinely make an impact. 

From there, I continued to grow. I could see my writing skills evolving before my eyes. I felt the exhilaration of diving into higher-stakes news topics, covering national events and administrative controversies alike, and relishing in the thrill of breaking a big story. My anxiety initially rendered me stock-still and silent during meetings, but with time, I grew comfortable with the noise, and then reached a point where I could speak above it. By the time I became the Copy Editor, ringing in the general meeting became one of the highlights of my week, as I shared writing pointers, took charge of the wall-spanning white boards and laughed along with the other writers. 

Above all else, the thing that I treasure most from the Echo is all of the connections that I made. We shared our creative passions, backed each other up when our work unexpectedly fell through and ran out of breath laughing at our inside jokes. These community connections were especially gratifying for me as my role shifted in my senior year. The upperclassmen on the board had nurtured my potential when I was a first-year student, and I was determined to pay it forward. It was endlessly fulfilling to encourage and advise the fledgling first- and second-years on the board, and to watch them come into their own as I did. In an ocean of isolation, the folks at the Echo were constantly a guiding beacon.

To all of the senior editing staff above me, thank you for believing in me as a writer and taking me under your wing. To all of the junior editing staff, thank you for letting me guide you and perpetually making me proud. To all of the writers from the past four years, thank you for filling up our pages with your stories and your spirit. And to the future generations of Echo writers, to everyone who has even considered putting yourself out there for the sake of this community, your voice matters. We want to see you and we want to hear you, and if you feel it’s where you belong, you can find a home in the Echo just as I have for four wonderful years.