Sitting here in the Daily Nexus office, my eyes wandering – as they have for three years now – over the spectacular array of random crap covering the walls, I find myself struggling to put my thoughts into words. At least, words with some measure of humor or insightfulness. Or, failing that, just enough words to fill this enormous blank page stretching before me like a barren expanse of Arctic wilderness.

I allow my gaze to drift upward, taking in the farewell messages scrawled in chalk around the leaky ceiling, most of them signed by people whose names I know only from decades-old Nexus archives, if at all. It’s an odd concept to think that that’s all I’ll be to the Nexus in four years – a scribble on the ceiling – providing I can even find a ladder that reaches that high, dammit.

But the beauty of the Nexus is that I know that it will be here long after I’m gone, safely in the hands of a new crop of bright-eyed and bushy-tailed staffers, with a handful of jaded veterans thrown in to buy them beer.

I can’t help but laugh when I think of how what was supposed to be my “three-hour tour” of college journalism turned into a three-year stay in an office under Storke Tower – the Nexus version of “Gilligan’s Island.”

At the beginning of my sophomore year, I went to a writer’s training session on a whim, wrote one mediocre story about the remodeling of De La Guerra Dining Commons and never looked back. The rush I got from reporting the news, and the intense pride I felt every time I saw my byline on the pages of the Nexus was so intense that I dropped my aspirations to become a chemical engineer and decided I wanted to write for a living.

Working as a reporter, writer and editor at the Nexus, I’ve met people and experienced things that I never dreamed I would here at UCSB. I’ve dealt with police and politicians, scientists and school administrators – not to mention the multitude of students I otherwise might never have met.

I’ve covered everything from evictions on Del Playa Drive to a trout-fishing tournament to the tragic shootings at a Goleta postal distribution center, and helping inform students through every article I have written – serious or lighthearted – has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

I consider it a huge honor to have been a part of this newspaper, and my time as editor in chief this past year has made me realize just how lucky I’ve been to work here. I enjoyed reading the Nexus before I started working here, but I never really appreciated how much time and effort goes into publishing a daily newspaper. I think few people do.

Five days a week, we bust our asses to bring our readers news that affects them – matters to them – and to fire people up about things that don’t matter to them, but should. If students don’t agree with something we print, we offer people a place to say so. No one at the Nexus – save for the receptionists, perhaps – works here for the money. We work here because we love it, and we love being the one newspaper that really cares about the students of UCSB.

One of my greatest joys during my time working at this newspaper has been to sit in a crowded lecture hall and watch as hundreds of people skim over the front page on their way to the Wednesday Hump or the crossword puzzle.
Every so often, someone would pause and point out an article to their neighbor, sometimes even sparking an animated conversation.

I have to admit, the phrase, “Dude! Did you hear about this?” has become a personal favorite.

And so, to all of our faithful readers, no matter what draws you to these flimsy gray pages: Thank you. You have made it all worthwhile, and I can only hope that the Nexus has informed you, entertained you and even made you angry from time to time over this past year. If it has done all of those things, then I consider my work here done.

I have worked alongside some incredibly talented and dedicated people during my time at the Nexus, and there is no way a simple letter of thanks could really do their contributions justice. However, seeing as buying them all Jet Skis could get pretty expensive, I’m going to choose to believe the old adage and pretend that it really is the thought that counts.

In no particular order, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all of the Nexites who are leaving this paradise and moving on to bigger and better things. It has been a pleasure working with you all, and even more of a pleasure drinking with you on our nights off.

I know I said in no particular order, but there is one person that deserves my heartfelt thanks right off the bat. Kristen Richer, thank you for being so damn organized and for helping me stay on top of my shit – it’s a losing battle, and I never could have made it through this year without you. How you managed to be such a dedicated managing editor while completing an 80-plus-page honors thesis is completely beyond me, and I’m convinced that you are destined for greatness.

Daniel Haier, thanks for everything you taught me while you were editor in chief, and thanks for sticking around to do training this year. I owe you a beer, big-time. Also, your features routinely kicked ass, and I hope you continue to write in the future.

Sports Editors Kelly Hayes and Sean Swaby, you both know that you’re pretty much the shit. Thank you both for kicking ass on your page, and for bringing sports back into the office – this is by far the most athletic the staff has been in years.

Aly Comingore, thank you for demeaning my musical tastes and insulting the movies I like. I don’t know what I would have done without you. Seriously though, you made Artsweek happen this year, and I owe you a huge thanks for all of the hard work you put into your section. Harrison Coltun, you are a ham, and you know it – thanks for giving us all something to talk about.

Caitlin Cassady, you showed up late to the party, but quickly became the life of it. Thanks for making life inside and outside of the office just that much more crazy and fun.

Lauren Rudser, you take awesome pictures and you’ve kept the paper looking pretty all year. You’re also a better editor than you give yourself credit for, and you were able to handle every tough situation that came your way. Keep taking shots of the boxeo, but don’t sell your soul to the News-Press.

Tiffany Peal, you had big shoes to fill when you took over as copy editor, and you made it look damn easy. Thank you for caring so much about our “minor mistakes,” and for doing everything in your power to make sure that those mistakes did not make it into the paper. Almost every editor at the Nexus owes you a beer for keeping them from looking stupid on multiple occasions.

Copy Reader Brian Van Wyk, it’s just a shame that we didn’t get you in here earlier. Thanks for being a friendly and reliable co-worker, and for adding some much-needed testosterone to the copy desk.

To graduating Nexus artists Charles Burggraf, Mike Nicolayeff, Megan Horejsi and Kelly Guan: Thank you all for being so consistently fantastic and unbelievably fast. You have wowed me with your art, and my only regret is that I didn’t get to know all of you better.

Ashley Ratcliff, the sole graduate from the Nexus news hole, thank you for coming back from that snobby school up north to help us out. I know you had a lot on your plate, but you provided some much-needed relief to our overworked desk editors, and I really appreciate that you were able to stick it out.

Jake Cadwell, let it never be said that the Nexus didn’t appreciate everything you did for it. You gave more to this newspaper than most everyone realizes, and I, of all people, understand the need to move on. Thank you for your years of hard work keeping the Nexus website up and running and fixing the various technical mini-disasters that this place experiences with frightening regularity.

So this is it. Farewell, Nexus, and farewell, UCSB.

I wouldn’t trade my time with either of you for the world.