Goodbye is bittersweet

By Jessica Strand - Stranded Thoughts

It has been a long road, but I finally must say goodbye.

I started at Highline in the Winter Quarter of 2015. I knew exactly how my years at Highline would look early on.

But I didn't know that Highline, the college I had taken a quarter of classes at years earlier, would end up being the perfect college for me. I didn't expect to find a place in the newsroom that felt more like a second family than a class or job.

In the Fall Quarter of 2006, as a single mother trying to make a future for me and my 2-year-old daughter, I took my first quarter in college at the age of 22. I chose Highline because it was close to where I lived at the time. I had an idea of what I wanted to do, but, as is common in most young adults' lives, my plans changed quite drastically very quickly.

By the end of that quarter I was pregnant with my second child which sent my life in a totally different direction.

Not wanting to be a single mother of two children by two different fathers, I married my son's father and tried to dedicate my life to being a wife and mother.

After years of troubled marriage, part of which my husband spent in prison, the verbally and physically abusive marriage finally ended in the summer of 2013.

Over the next year I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and spent time focusing on my mental health.

And finally, after focusing on myself, I decided I wanted to write. I wanted to tell people's stories. Truth, integrity and learning new things has always been important to me, and after spending years having my integrity questioned by a compulsive liar -- my ex-husband -- I decided journalism was what I wanted to do.

I had moved from Federal Way to South Seattle, and applied to a few different community colleges. But ultimately, I settled on Highline because of the quarter I had attended years earlier.

Toward the end of my first quarter, I went to talk to my adviser, Dr. T.M. Sell, for the first time to get advice on which classes I should take next.

Since I was taking photography in my first quarter, Dr. Sell suggested photojournalism for spring, and so started my journey at the Thunderword. By Fall of 2015 I was the photo editor, and have since traveled up the chain to almost every position, learning so much along the way.

My journey was quite a bit different than I expected it would be when I began. I pictured most of it being like the first quarter, from my car to class, then back to my car.

I had no idea how many wonderful people I would meet working on the paper -- the largest group-project Highline has -- for the last two years.

So many people have come and gone, and I have learned a great deal from every single one of them, and will be eternally grateful for knowing them.

It seems like just yesterday when I was saying "I'm going to be here forever."

Sadly, forever is now coming to an end.

I will be taking next year off to spend time with my children. Then I will be going to the University of Washington for my bachelor's degree in journalism.

I will always be grateful for everything I have learned and all the guidance I have received from my journalism professors, Dr. Sell and Gene Achziger.

Thank you Highline for the last few years, I'll miss this amazing college, filled with amazing people.

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