June 23, 2024

Editor Cody Phelps bids farewell as graduation approaches

Before I share my story, I feel that it’s necessary to say thank you. Thank you for picking up our newspaper, thank you for listening to our podcasts, thank you for reading the content our staff provides on our website. There is so much work that needs to be done to accomplish what we do and it’s because of people like you that we are able to do what we do at this newspaper office.

     When I found this newspaper, I was a little lost and confused. It was only my second semester in college when I took a news writing course from the incredibly talented Dr. Susan Polster at the request of one of my best friends in the world. That reminds me, thank you Brayden Evensen, I would never have found this passion without your support. In that first class period, Susan asked me why I was there since I wasn’t a journalism major. To be honest, I wasn’t sure why I was taking a class on news writing, I didn’t have any aspirations at the time to become a journalist. I didn’t actually know what I wanted to do. 

     A few weeks later, I talked with a few friends I made because of this, Scott Froelich and Kalli Prendergast, the two editors at the time. They urged me to join the staff, but I was nervous and I didn’t think I had whatever it was you needed to do this gig. It was scary, but I gave it a shot and dedicated myself to it. 

     Early in my first semester on the staff, I knew this was something I wanted to take very seriously. I started shadowing Scott every production week. I spent many hours in Susan’s office asking questions and learning new things about journalism. I decided that I wanted to be really good at this. When Scott graduated, there was an opening for the Managing Editor position and I took it. Yet again I was left wondering if I had what it takes to do this job. 

     My first year as managing editor was actually really great. I had a small, but dedicated staff that worked hard to provide a quality newspaper on a bi-weekly basis. We won 22 awards for our work that first year. That was exceptional, it was the highest this outlet had ever earned at the awards and I was really proud to have captained that ship. 

     Then, in the spring semester of 2020, we hit one of our toughest patches. COVID-19 sent us home and our paper was unable to complete the full schedule we had set out to do.  In the fall of that year, we were back on campus, but being the editor of a newspaper without an in-person staff was hard. I hardly ever saw anybody in our once-bustling office. The campus as a whole was empty with most people still online because the pandemic was still in full swing. That year was hard. It was a difficult hurdle to overcome, but we did. The Eagle took home 21 awards for that year. 

     The staff hasn’t fully come back, with our numbers still around half of what they were pre-coronavirus. Regardless, it has been the honor of my life to work on this staff. It’s not often a college Newspaper gives you the experience The Eagle gave me. 

      Graduation is a little over a week away and it’s time for me to say goodbye, but before I do, I need to thank some people in specific. I want to thank Dr. Susan Polster. Susan has, in many ways, become such an integral part of my life. She has been in my corner every step of the way and I could not and would not have done this without her. I was so pleased to stand next to her when I accepted my award for CHaSS Print Journalism Student of the Year. It was a special moment that I was happy to share with her. I need to thank Scott Froelich, his kindness and dedication set an example that I merely attempted to reach. He was the perfect guy for this job and following in his footsteps was an excellent challenge. Kalli Prendergast was always one of the highlights of my week. Her positivity and enthusiasm brightened even the most gloomy of moods and her talent behind the camera is unmatched. I need to thank Brayden Evensen, without him none of this would’ve been possible. Thank you. Daryn Mason helped reignite my passion for this paper when I felt it was a little lost. I want to thank Del Jones, whose professionalism and enthusiasm has taken me to another level as a journalist. I want to thank my sister, Kelsi Phelps whose hard working attitude and dedication to what has become a family business has made everything I do so much easier. I can’t explain my excitement to have my family by my side. I am thrilled to announce that Kelsi is taking my place on the staff next year. I want to thank Katlyn Galieti, our next Editor-in-chief, who has worked remarkably hard in the last year to become one of the best layout designers I know, she’s an excellent writer too. It’s been wonderful to be a small part of that growth. I want to thank Janelle Bates, what an incredible, fantastic writer. Janelle has been such an amazing addition to the staff for a few years now. I feel for whoever’s taking her place as News Editor, those are big shoes to fill. Lastly, I want to thank my family for setting an example of what it means to be dedicated, hard-working, and emotionally resonant. I could not do what I do without them. Thank you all so much. 

     Now it’s time to do what I’ve been dreading for almost a year now. This is my final piece of work as a student and as an editor for this paper. If I’ve worked with you, it has been an honor and I am grateful. I will miss this a lot, and while I’m excited for life post-graduation, I’m dreading letting this part of my life go. Unfortunately, part of the college experience is leaving. I’ve had an excellent time here. 

     Goodbye Eagles, it’s been the absolute time of my life. Thank you so much.