by Matt Benoit
When I first came to Whatcom Community College a little over two years ago, I saw it as a new beginning, a chance to overcome the struggles (some of which were self-imposed) that I’d had—both socially and academically—in high school.
My first quarter here, I decided to join the staff of the student newspaper, the Horizon, because it seemed like a good thing to get involved with, especially since I’d been the co-editor of my high school’s fledgling newspaper, The Barometer (I’m not really sure why I’ve only worked on papers with names that are often used in nautical endeavors).
That quarter, I joined as sports editor, with my first story being on the now-defunct but then new Whatcom cross-country team. Despite occasional quarter-end thoughts of not returning to the Horizon, I have remained on the staff the entirety of my time at the college.
This is one of only a few classes I’ve taken where, amid all the pre-requisite classes one must take for a transfer degree, I genuinely looked forward to being there nearly every day.
I have so many wonderful memories (along with a couple not-so-good ones) from the past two and a half years, and in that time I held the positions of sports editor, assistant editor, photo editor, and on four different occasions, editor-in-chief.
I got a subscription to the New York Times. I wrote stories about roller derby and beauty pageants, about sports and budgets and cooking classes. And thankfully for me, I got a place to write humor columns that made at least some people laugh out loud.
I got to watch sunsets from the newsroom. I got a sense of belonging, a sense of responsibility, a sense of leadership. I made many friends among our often-changing staff, many of whom were women from places as wide-ranging as Sequim to South Africa.
I got free tickets to cover drama plays and other college events, free books in the mail that no one on our staff ever wanted to read, and enough reporters’ notebooks to last me for at least another five years.
I got to draw chalk outlines outside the Syre Center that made it appear as if Gumby had fallen to his death. I got to see our assistant editor don the Orca mascot costume and strike a cross-finned pose on the hardwood of the Pavilion, right in the middle of a women’s basketball practice. I once got a source’s office location off the school Web site, only to be directed to a storage closet. I once interviewed a man whose last name was actually pronounced “Cool.”
So now, with all those memories, it’s time to move on to a four-year university, whether it be Western or Washington State, to pursue a journalism degree and, eventually, a career.
I want to thank all the students, staff, faculty, administrators, and community members who allowed me the time for an interview over these last couple years. I’d also like to thank Colette Colburn for the use of her Pez dispensers in order to conceal my humor columnist identity behind assorted plastic characters.
And finally, I’d like to thank adviser Toby Sonneman, for her kindness and for suggesting to me that I would make a good editor in the first place.
Now, of course, I know that this is just a community college newspaper, assembled by a usually small, some-what rag-tag group of hard-working student writers, most of whom still have little to no idea what they want to do with the rest of their lives.
But it is still an actual publication, and I have actually been an editor, photographer, columnist, reporter—in short, a real journalist. So perhaps some day, when I hopefully have a successful journalism career going, people will ask me where I got my true start. And that’s when I can tell them: I worked on the Horizon.