Hats off to the Gateway’s 2021 graduates

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Leta Lohrmeyer
EDITOR IN CHIEF

I concluded my college career at 8 p.m. on a Sunday, sitting on my living room floor, watching the digital confetti stream down my laptop screen. That’s how many UNO seniors finished their degrees – by hitting submit on Canvas and pressing the red “End Meeting” button on their last Zoom class. No one ever could have imagined their last year of college turning out the way that it did. Their hard work and perseverance for getting through it – despite all the sacrifices, anxiety and uncertainty – deserves recognition.

The Gateway staff’s seniors are no different. Along with their studies, activities, work and personal life, these students helped produce the Gateway in one of the most tumultuous times in existence.

Now that they’ve turned their tassels at commencement, these graduates also deserve a “hats off” for their work. Thank you for all the patience and care you put into your craft. You make the Gateway what it is.

Zach Gilbert
News Editor

When and why did you join the Gateway?

Because I was still finding my footing at UNO upon transferring to the university at the start of my junior year, it wasn’t until the summer before my senior year when I became aware of the opportunities offered by The Gateway, after a friend recommended that I apply for an open News Editor position. I’ve always had a passion for writing and storytelling, and I was looking to become more involved on campus, so I was instantly interested in the idea. A few weeks after submitting my application, I was hired – and putting myself out proved to be one of the greatest decisions of my life.

What is your favorite story you covered or favorite experience you’ve had at the Gateway?

My favorite issue I worked on this year was March 2021’s “One Year of COVID” issue. I was able to talk with teachers, students, fitness instructors, film critics, and more about the various adaptations and accommodations they’ve had to make throughout these troubling times. These discussions truly opened my eyes to experiences and events outside of my everyday life. In the end, it was also just incredibly inspiring to hear how others have endured through this painful pandemic, and I hope that showed in my stories.

How has the pandemic impacted you or how have you learned from it?

As a college student, we have survived struggles we could’ve never possibly imagined due to the coronavirus outbreak, and while it’s been an emotional time for everyone, I’ve never felt at all like my professors and the university as a whole didn’t have my back or have a plan to protect the student body. Together, we have all teamed up to confront these challenges head-on, and this courageous collaborative effort has shown me just how powerful cooperation and compassion can be in helping us power through the most trying of times – a lesson I’ll take with me for the rest of my life.

What is the greatest lesson or message you’ve learned in college?

There is no shortcut to success. If you want to achieve something, you have to be willing to put in the hard work the whole way through, or else you’ll never reach your goal. I won’t lie and say that I haven’t been tested personally and professionally over these past four years, but by buckling down and giving each and every task I’ve taken on my all – no matter how big or small – there’s nothing I haven’t been able to accomplish once I put my mind to it.

Any future plans after graduation?

I will be moving to Los Angeles, California in June with a few of my friends to pursue communications/public relations/publicity in the film industry!

Leta Lohrmeyer
Editor-In-Chief

Photo by Ky Vaught Photos.

When and why did you join the Gateway?

I joined the Gateway in 2019 at the beginning of my junior year. The last EIC Kamrin Baker suggested that I apply and I ended up becoming the Opinion Editor and later the Digital Editor. Applying was such a scary idea for me because I was too nervous to even contribute articles in my freshman and sophomore years. Now, this past year I had the privilege of being the Gateway’s Editor-In-Chief, I don’t think my younger self would have ever imagined that. I’m so grateful that I took that chance because the Gateway has been a wonderful space of personal and professional growth for me.

What is your favorite story you covered or favorite experience you’ve had at the Gateway?

One experience I’ll never forget is when I got to cover Hamilton at the Orpheum. I’m a huge musical theatre fan so it was very surreal to be able to watch one of my favorite shows and then have my review published. I have been fortunate enough to cover many events (including the pandemic) and stories that I would have never been able to do without the Gateway.

How has the pandemic impacted you or how have you learned from it?

The pandemic has really tossed people around, as I’m sure everyone can attest to. I had many plans and dreams for this past year-and-a-half that ended up being scrapped or repurposed. So, I’ve learned a lot about adaptability and accepting change. Above all, I learned about the importance of human connection and empathy. I really missed sitting in the newsroom with the whole Gateway staff chatting, joking around, and quoting memes. The pandemic solidified for me the importance, power and value of having a strong support system and caring for others around you.

What is the greatest lesson or message you’ve learned in college?

You learn from listening. I’m thankful to UNO and Omaha for opening me up to a greater, more complex world. I’ve learned more about social, racial, political issues in these past four years of college than I have my entire life. You learn the most by listening to other people and then taking the time to educate yourself on those issues.

Any future plans after graduation?

Right now, I am happily living my bookworm dream by working at the Omaha Public Library. I hope to travel once the pandemic is over! We’ll see what other opportunities pop up when the time comes.

Elle Love
Online Reporter

Photo by Kylie Squires.

When and why did you join the Gateway?

I joined the Gateway in the spring semester of my third year of college and worked up to my fifth and final year. I wanted to dip my toes into writing for the newspaper and improve my journalistic skills with fellow peers who are also in a similar field as me. Working in a student newsroom prepared me for how it would be like working in a real newsroom where teamwork consists of everyone doing their part while also checking in on others who may need the additional help. Working in the Gateway alone has prepared me as a journalist on the field and established very helpful and personal connections along the way.

What is your favorite story you covered or favorite experience you’ve had at the Gateway?

A few favorite stories of mine that I have covered in the Gateway is when I shared my experience as an autistic college student and on AAVE; because of the cultural research and time I put into making sure the facts and information are correct especially when educating about culture. I also liked covering the Weinermobile story because I got to take a selfie with the Weinermobile truck and got to know the cool Hot Doggers behind the wheel.

For a favorite Gateway experience, it would be going to Vala’s with everyone and getting to know each other personally as people while having fall festival fun.

How has the pandemic impacted you or how have you learned from it?

The pandemic has shifted many things mentally, emotionally and physically. I had to take care of sick family members while juggling school and work. It has made my job as a journalist slightly challenging because I miss the in-person interviews and visiting new places. However, it has taught me how to adapt and prepare for even the more dire situations where it requires to switch to remote work.

What is the greatest lesson or message you’ve learned in college?

The greatest lesson I learned in college is about time management. Sometimes I run out of time so often because I have difficulty managing it. Also, connections are very important especially after college because of the increase of potential job opportunities I could have before graduating and even after. I met so many wonderful people that have connected me to resources and network that is valuable for my college career and beyond. I was truly thankful to be surrounded by peers who are also passionate about the field as I am.

Any future plans after graduation?

I am working for NOISE Omaha in covering community-based journalism and will possibly look into more opportunities in the future.

Claire Redinger
Digital Editor

Photo courtesy of Madeline Jarosik Photography.

When and why did you join the Gateway? 

I joined The Gateway during my junior year of college because I really wanted some professional experience as a copy editor. I went into college thinking that I would be a copy editor after I graduated, but I quickly fell in love with writing. The Gateway has given me opportunities to edit, write, mentor and copywrite for social media – and it’s allowed me to become bffs with the AP stylebook. I’m so grateful for our college paper!

What is your favorite story you covered or favorite experience you’ve had at the Gateway?

My favorite pieces to write have always been editorials, aka opinion pieces. I enjoyed writing about politics and the election this year, and I will never forget covering the Trump rally with Leta and Mars right alongside the “professional” journalists. My favorite thing about this year, though, was definitely working with the online reporters – Elle and Anthony. They’re both incredibly smart and talented, and I loved being their editor.

How has the pandemic impacted you or how have you learned from it?

The pandemic just reminded me that we can only control our lives so much, and there will always be some chaos in our order. This past year has shown me that joy can always be found and that my thoughts affect my work, my relationships, my health, my emotions, and my goals. So, I try and notice my thoughts more now.

What is the greatest lesson or message you’ve learned in college?

I’ve by no means mastered this, but I’ve definitely strived for balance in college, and I think I was happier and more successful because of it. Balance looks different for each person, but for me, it meant graduating on time – instead of early – taking only 12 credits for my last two semesters and working 10 hours instead of 25-30. As a freshman, I never would’ve done that. But, as I progressed in college, I realized I needed time for my friends, and my family, and myself. I needed to eat and sleep and exercise and journal and pray and live and be. I was still busy, but I was far happier when I made decisions that were healthier for me. Not everyone has the resources to work less or take fewer credits. But, I still suggest taking an inventory of your life and deciding what/who gets your time and your energy.

Also, I’ve never had email notifications on my phone. Radical, I know. But, just because professors can contact you at 4 p.m. on a Sunday, it doesn’t mean you have to respond. I think it’s important to set healthy professional boundaries – to not live like you’re on-call when you’re not.

Any future plans after graduation?

I’m hoping to work in nonprofit communications and freelance write and edit. We’ll see where the world takes me!

Makayla Roumph
Arts and Entertainment Editor

When and why did you join the Gateway?

I joined the Gateway in August 2020 because my passion for storytelling grew after completing Media Storytelling with Wendy Townley. As a Gateway alumna herself, Wendy’s metaphor of the Gateway serving as a “landing place” inspired me to find mine too.

What is your favorite story you covered or favorite experience you’ve had at the Gateway?

​Feature articles were my favorite stories to cover because they gave me the opportunity to not only be just a journalist but a storyteller. More specifically, my favorite story I covered for the Gateway was the follow-up article I wrote on my local artist friend, whose transformation of art over the past several months aligned with his stages of grief from the passing of his sister. I have a great passion for supporting the local arts and entertainment scene as well, so serving as the editor for A&E was nothing short of fulfilling.

How has the pandemic impacted you or how have you learned from it?

​The pandemic has impacted me by challenging me to create space. My room became my work, school, gym and place to rest, so I channeled my inner Virgo and rearranged my room to create a corner for each priority in my life. Disconnection has also impacted me because of the pandemic. The inability to be surrounded by people and their energy created many writer’s blocks when seeking inspiration for stories. Although I am still learning from this obstacle, I found that shifting my perspective to recognize that everyone is going through this together reminded me to not overthink, but rather listen more than I spoke to allow for the interviewees to tell the story.

What is the greatest lesson or message you’ve learned in college?

​The greatest lesson and message I have learned from college is that no, a degree itself does not guarantee a job. However, the relationships built in college will.

Any future plans after graduation?

​Because I don’t graduate until August, I plan to start online fitness coaching and continue working for Broccoli Creative Collective and Simon Clark Productions during the summer while completing my final college courses. 🙂

Kylie Squiers
Photo and Imagery Editor

When and why did you join the Gateway?

I applied for the Photo Editor position in the spring of 2019 because I am passionate about photography and storytelling, so I figured, why not combine both loves into one! I also wanted to do more photojournalism and expand my writing skills.

What is your favorite story you covered or favorite experience you’ve had at the Gateway?

My favorite story I covered was definitely Maha in 2019. I had the amazing opportunity to shoot in the photographer’s pit, front and center for each artist, and then do a story write-up of the event. I’ll always cherish these memories.

How has the pandemic impacted you or how have you learned from it?

Though the pandemic took a negative toll on everyone, I personally am thankful for the hardships I faced because of my resilience that pushed through. Over the past year, I created more time for myself, mental health, self-love and self-reflecting that I probably wouldn’t have done if it weren’t for the pandemic. With significant challenges comes significant growth—if you push towards it. I’ve vowed to no longer give undeserving people my time and energy and am proud of the woman I’m becoming.

What is the greatest lesson or message you’ve learned in college?

The greatest lesson I learned is that people come and go—and that’s completely okay. It’s okay to feel upset, frustrated or even confused when this happens because it’s just a part of life. I truly believe that people are put in your life for a reason and drift away when they no longer serve a purpose in your life. You should never put extra energy into those who don’t reciprocate the same.

Any future plans after graduation?

As of now, I’m open to the endless possibilities that may present themselves to me. I’ve learned it’s not healthy to put all your time and energy into one plan and one plan only—because if 2020 showed us anything, it was that things change in a blink of an eye. As of now, my plan is to move to NYC for the summer (maybe longer, who knows) and just go from there.

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