The Rider News’ top editors say goodbye

By Stephen Neukam and Austin Ferguson

When I introduced myself as executive editor to our readers in September 2019, I made it known how optimistic I was about our community, with a clear-eyed vision of the challenges that laid ahead.

Two years later, and I think we confronted all of those challenges and much, much more, to say the least. I am no less optimistic today.

While submerged in all of the issues that college students regularly face, we also went through a pandemic and historic social unrest — a four-year period where the unrealistic and unexpected seemed to be the status quo.

My staff and I were able to have a unique view of all of this. We covered our community and listened to our peers, telling their stories through our newspaper. Not only did we have struggles and triumphs of our own, but we shared in other peoples’ experiences.

These stories taught me that Rider is a special place — not in a cliche, corny way — but a truly incredible campus with remarkable community members.

Reflecting on my time at this university brings up such strong and sweet memories, and the bitterness only comes when I realize that this period in my life has to end.

Leading this newspaper has been the greatest honor of my professional and personal life. I can’t speak highly enough of my peers and the support system that Rider offers its students in the communications department.

I don’t know what to say about the work that we have done over the past few years. All that I hope is that the work speaks for itself. I hope our reporting made you more interested in our community, more willing to ask questions and more proud of being a Bronc.

When I made my first two-hour drive up from my home in Maryland to Lawrenceville, I had no way of knowing where this ride would end. For the past few months, I have been trying to reflect on my tenure here and really haven’t been able to put it all in perspective yet. However, I do know one thing: I am lucky.

I am lucky to have had such a great team. I am lucky to have had such an incredible mentor, professor and adviser in Jackie Incollingo. I am lucky to have landed in Lawrenceville. I am lucky to have led this paper and hand it off to such an incredible group of students.

I am off to the University of Maryland to do graduate work in journalism on a full scholarship in the fall. It’s a big step, but one that I am more than ready to take thanks to Rider and The Rider News.

I will always love this school, this paper and this town. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Stephen Neukam, Senior journalism major

Life has changed for a lot of people in the last year – let alone the last four – for many graduating from college as I am.

As the days wind down toward commencement and I reflect on my undergraduate career, specifically with The Rider News, I see a connecting thread in my three years with this publication: adjustment.

Starting as a features and entertainment editor, I moved through many positions, including copy editor, circulation manager, sports editor and my most recent post as managing editor. The aspect of all these positions that I appreciated the most throughout the past three years was finding my passion in a place I did not expect.

Despite the love and appreciation I now have for The Rider News, I saw my first position with it as a paycheck. In all honesty, I wasn’t interested in journalism. I wasn’t the strongest writer in high school, and I wanted to be a broadcaster, on-screen, doing play-by-play for Major League Baseball games.

But as time went on with The Rider News, I covered and learned about the different life experiences that people within the Rider community have. Over time, with the guidance of an array of coworkers I’ve had the pleasure of working with, I learned how to capture those experiences, feelings and sentiments through writing and ultimately fell in love with it.

Though journalism was not a career path I had envisioned myself pursuing, I’m glad I took a chance on something different and opened myself to new possibilities. Through that, I’ve found a passion for life.

On top of that, in the last year alone, the COVID-19 pandemic has put a lot of people at a crossroads. Are they happy with where their lives are? Through all the negative aspects of being quarantined and away from loved ones, the pandemic has given people the pause to reflect on their life trajectory and whether it is where they want to go.

In what has been a pivotal moment in the personal lives of many people, especially those my age that are about to embark on the world post-college graduation, it is important to take a pause and ask yourself: What, in simplest terms, is your definition of a good life?

In my eyes, I look to my earlier passion of broadcasting for the answer. The late, great former college basketball coach and analyst Jim Valvano said, “To me, there are three things everyone should do every day. Number one is laugh. Number two is think – spend some time in thought. Number three, you should have your emotions move you to tears. If you laugh, think and cry, that’s a heck of a day.”

Though my thoughts may not always move me to tears, I concentrate and reflect on these three things every day. No matter how grim the times may seem, especially in today’s environment, I find something to enjoy about life, I find something to think about and I find something that moves my emotions.

As I and many others move to the next chapter of our lives, wherever that may be or whatever it is we may be doing, I don’t believe it would hurt to heed Valvano’s advice. Live each day, no matter where you are in life, ready to laugh, ready to learn and ready to love. You may not reach all three of those things each day, and as grueling as life may have been in the past year, you must allow the prospect of living a full day tomorrow to keep you going.

Austin Ferguson, Senior sports media major

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