Student Life

“If I ever told you that I knew what my path would be, I was lying. I realize that now.”

I never thought I would be a communication major. It was about this time four years ago as a senior in high school during the spring of 2018 that I was in the process of changing my academic plans from wanting to be a high school teacher to a career in the communication field. I went from a straightforward, cut-and-dry idea of what I would be doing to a career path with so much more uncertainty. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.

I had a rough idea of what I wanted out of my freshman year of college; dive in headfirst into my major to see what connections I make and what I truly enjoy. Writing for The Buzz was one of the first things I did as a college student. It was nerve-wracking at the beginning, but it showed people I wanted to write, even though I didn’t know that at the time.

It was the first weekly meeting after club fest in August. I was the only freshman sitting in on the story idea meeting. Having no idea of what I should even write about, I didn’t say a word during the entire meeting. I was wide-eyed and nervous as Professor Sivell interrogated us for story ideas. These were the days of Carter Foley and Daniel Rolfe on sports, Jessica Karolczak on features, and Ashlynn Maczko as editor-in-chief. I knew I had a lot of work in front of me, so I began the best way I knew how: asking for help.

After the meeting was over, I talked to Sivell and Ashlynn about wanting to write. He asked what I was interested in. After introducing myself, he recommended I talk about Quercus, the literary magazine on campus. This was before I was enrolled in any media writing courses, so I relied heavily on Sivell’s help for the first semester. Looking back, I’m extremely grateful for that dynamic we had. It truly helped me remain interested in what I was doing, both in my communication classes and for The Buzz.

Writing for The Buzz was one of the very first things I did as a college student at St. Ambrose. It allowed me to have the confidence to try new things, both within my major and outside of it. You could say I feel a sense of obligation to something that helped me grow into my career aspirations and ideas, but that doesn’t tell the full story. Staying on the staff for four years has shown me things I never thought I’d be a part of, never considered, or never expected to happen. I kept up the mindset of just being along for the ride, which is something I’m more than thankful for.

The connections I’ve made through The Buzz allowed me to interview everyone from presidential candidates on campus to university higher-ups. This isn’t to say that my other experiences here at Ambrose weren’t important. Each work experience I’ve had—anchoring Dateline SAU, broadcasting a weekly radio newscast, hosting a podcast, to eventually working at John Deere—are all special in their own way. But writing for The Buzz will hold a special place in my memory. It was something that always remained for me as editors came and went, as Sivell handed the advisor role over to professor Lareau, and when we watched the paper transition to an all-digital format on an integrative media platform.

Now, as the entirety of what I’ve known and been accustomed to is ending, I’m mentally prepared for the next chapter in my life. At first, this was an extremely intimidating prospect knowing that the real world is around the corner. As soon as I was able to understand what I truly wanted in this life, I could take a deep breath and exhale, relieved of all unwanted stress. This didn’t mean I wasn’t scared of getting rejected from jobs or constantly trying to land something, but I realized that I, among everybody else graduating from college, have the world at my fingertips. By taking what I learned at Ambrose and the opportunities this university gave me, I can make the most of what the world throws at me. That’s the attitude I’m taking into my next adventure, which of course starts after Saturday, May 21, 2022.

Writing a reflective piece such as this allows me to realize that my entire experience has shaped the way I look at my future, due in no small part to being a staff writer for four years. Even if I’m not in total understanding of what lies in front of me, I know if I work hard at it, good things will come out of it. That’s the bottom line that has followed me in any of my experiences and will follow me into the future, being remembered simply as a first-year student learning about the college lifestyle through student journalism.

To everyone who has helped me along the way; back home, in college, and in life, I wouldn’t be where I am today without you. For that, I am, and always will be, extremely grateful.

Here’s to wherever life takes us,

Ryan Sandness