I applied for graduation yesterday. You know, that major event that caps one’s college career, the newfound prestige evident in ill-fitting commencement garb.
Yet it’s in the minute details of this semester that I’ve found the most joy and fulfillment.
While writing the Arabic alphabet yesterday for an assignment, I felt confident. I knew every letter, finally. Then, I received an at-the-time-unwelcome helping of humility in the form of one realization: I didn’t know how to properly write my own name.
The ego is a peculiar thing. It simultaneously motivates and endangers us.
Every week, I write a brief 100- to 150-word preview of Drake’s and Northern Iowa’s football games. They occupy little retail in the sports section of the Des Moines Register. But they remind me that sports are about more than scores and stats. They’re about building community, and I’m grateful to be a part of that larger goal.
I walked down to the Meredith Hall basement a few days ago and experienced a number of minute but impactful moments. I remembered my initial fear — and eventual comfort — in the realm of video editing and electronic news gathering. I remembered the semester-long dismantling of my journalistic ego, captured in the following mindset: “I’m the queen of print, so why should I learn this digital rubbish?”
And I remembered that about this time a year ago, I learned my No. 1 journalistic mentor and inspiration, Rick Tapscott, was ill. I recall the time (all right — times) I panicked in his office about a source, a lede, my future (or sometimes, all the above). One of Rick’s journalistic catch phrases was, “Get the name of the dog.” Translated, it means the small details and moments matter.
For a long time, I considered him solely a journalistic mentor. When I hit “submit” on my graduation application yesterday, when I completed what’s billed as a major moment and didn’t feel a thing, I realized Rick was more than a journalistic mentor.
What he taught me transcends the 100-150 words I write about football each week. It transcends Drake University and the Des Moines Register newsroom. Before my wannabe-philosopher self launches into some winding explanation of life’s minutiae, I’ll say it the best way I know: “Get the name of the dog.”