WHIDDEN: Learning to love


Skyler Daley, Kelli Arseneau, Jenny Whidden, Emma Brauer and Emily Rouse (from left) look over the Arts & Entertainment section of the Marquette Tribune during a production day in fall 2019. Photo courtesy of the Marquette Office of Marketing and Communications.

There is only one place that has held both infectious passion for what I want to do with my life and incredible friends who walked with me toward a shared goal. 

It’s the Marquette Wire that provided me with those pillars throughout my college experience; it grew my love for journalism and gave me beloved companions along the way.

I genuinely feel that there are no words to truly describe the aching of my heart when I think of saying goodbye, but the end is here and I’ll try my best to give a proper farewell.

My memories of joining the Wire three years ago are as clear as the ones from three months ago. 

I filled out the application for a news reporter position in the dead of night on a McCormick bunk bed, soaking up the summer heat as I reread my responses. 

I walked to the interview along Wisconsin Avenue on an August evening, my heart beating fast and my mind full of doubt. My sophomore year was beginning, and I had spent my first year too uncertain to apply — I didn’t think I could do it.

But Jenn Walter did. She hired me, and I soon entered a world full of hard deadlines and endless writing. 

It was a world that I grew to love. There I could listen intently to sources and have meaningful conversations, I could craft stories and tell readers everything I had heard and seen, I could talk and laugh with my colleagues as we brought news to the community.

The application for assistant news editor sat open on my desktop. It was November, and this time I thought, ‘maybe I can do it.’ 

I sat on a bench behind Cudahy Hall on a chilly December afternoon to call a friend and tell her that I didn’t get the position. I cried. I remember telling her through my tears that I still loved journalism, and I would try again.

But the next week Jenn and Aly Prouty pulled me aside before a staff-wide meeting, their eyes shining bright. 

“The position opened up, are you still interested?” 

I couldn’t say for sure what they said, but I know that I floated into that meeting on a cloud. 

I would join Sydney Czyzon as one of two assistants. We had known each other since our first year as next-door neighbors in Straz Tower, chatting in our rooms about journalism, classes and all those magical little things that only first-years who are just beginning college talk about. 

What I didn’t know then was that we would continue being next to each other for the rest of our time at Marquette. I turned to her at the meeting to tell her I got the position, and she excitedly told me that she already knew.

When manager positions opened for my senior and final year, I knew I had another leap of faith to take. 

My interview for managing editor of the Tribune was early on a Friday morning. The night before I dreamed that it went horribly. I tried to shake the nightmare off, muttering talkings points aloud to myself as I made my way across campus.

Again, my heart beat fast and my mind filled with doubt, but this time that doubt was accompanied by a new thought: ‘I can do it.’  

I was sitting in my car, the sun shining brightly, when I got the email. I held my breath. I saw just one word — “Congratulations” — and I immediately put my phone down, put my face in my hands and cried. 

What followed was the most challenging, rewarding and invigorating year of my life. 

The seemingly simple responsibility of deciding what to put in the newspaper sat on my shoulders, a heavy and honorable burden. 

I learned through my peers and mentors that journalism is truly a public service. I took that service to heart and carefully considered it with every decision. 

The newsroom was my favorite place — even when I had schoolwork to do, or when the sun was coming up though I hadn’t slept. Even when we had to leave campus in the face of the pandemic and create a virtual place of our own. 

I am grateful for every moment I spent in that newsroom, both the physical one in Johnston Hall and the intangible one we had while apart. I am grateful for every laugh we shared, every late night conversation we had and every difficult decision we made.

The journey I had with the Marquette Wire was a turbulent one, full of triumphs and failures. I learned that my heart will continue to beat fast and my mind will continue to fill with doubt. But as long as I take a chance on myself, I’ll grow into that precious thought of ‘I can do it.’ 

To those who came and went, to those who were by my side until the end and to those who remain after I am gone — I’ll keep these sweet memories close to me while I continue to practice the journalism that you taught me to love. I hope you will, too.

This story was written by Jenny Whidden. She can be reached at jennifer.whidden@marquette.edu.