When I graduate this spring, I don’t plan on entering the field of journalism.

Seems a bit strange that I’d invest four years of my life in this field, only to be so confident that it’s not the path I’ll go down.

Still, if I were to do this college thing all over again, I wouldn’t change my major.

There is a higher calling for journalists, even beyond the duty to uphold democracy and freedom of speech, that I am drawn to: We are called to listen.

We are called to listen in a world filled with noise.

And for me, that learning is worth more than any label of a major.

I spent this past summer attempting to call 120 past editors of The Record, collecting stories of vocation from past graduates’ time in leadership at The Record until now.

Not all are journalists. Some are doctors, lawyers, teachers, business owners, authors.

I was overwhelmed by the variety of places you can go when you learn how to listen.

Because for journalists, it’s never about our story, but rather about how we can uncover the unheard stories of those around us.

And that power, though overwhelming, is inspiring.

The stories we covered this semester at The Record had never been heard before. We have never collectively lived through a pandemic, an election that has so deliberately threatened the existence of our democracy, climate change, virtual learning.

The list goes on …

Surrounded by a team of dedicated journalists – Nathan, Nick, Greta, Zack, William, Graysen, Kristin, Priscilla – we have given voice to these stories, prioritizing our time and our passion to the persistent work of listening, even when it pulls us deeper into harsh realities.

And when I look back on all that this semester was, I will remember The Record’s role, and I will be proud.

There was always a higher calling to our work, even at a small Mennonite school in Indiana.

As I anticipate moving on from my role as executive editor, I am sad but equally excited to pass the baton off to new co-editors for the upcoming spring semester: Nick Yutzy and Zack Begly.

I don’t plan to stop listening though, whether I find myself in journalism or not.

Three years ago, I stood in front of my peers at Hesston College’s graduation ceremony, sharing the words of author and journalist Richard Wagamese.

“All we are is story,” he says. “From the moment we are born to the time we continue on our spirit journey, we are involved in the creation of the story of our time here. It is what we arrive with. It is all we leave behind … When we take the time to share those stories with each other, we get bigger inside, we see each other, we recognize our kinship – we change the world, one story at a time.”

So I guess I’m saying thank you, to the GC community, for sharing your story so vulnerably this semester.

It’s important.

Because we are all journalists in our own regard, now more than ever.

May we acknowledge that role – grounding our work in the voices of others, forging paths of justice that provide belonging for all.

Listening …