My senior year reflection: perseverance and commitment

Elyse Luecke, Managing Editor

Under the email signature of middle school principal Rebecca Irving, there is a quote that says, “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.”

The past four years have shown me nothing but the truth in this statement. Freshman year I auditioned for choir with “Castle on a Cloud” from Les Miserables. My mom stood behind me shocked as I sang because that was the first time she heard me really let it out. I continued my singing journey in Concert Choir, the Tonightengales A Cappella group, and eventually had the opportunity to audition for Camerata. Although it was intimidating and out of my comfort zone, it was one of the best decisions I have made. I enjoyed every second of preparing for holiday performances, singing at the Thanksgiving Day parade downtown, Six Flags Music Festival, Solo and Small Ensemble, and Large Ensemble. By the end of my musical journey, I had a group of people who I could call my family.

Things took a turn junior year due to family obstacles and my mom’s declining health. She was in and out of the hospital multiple times due to her illness, yet I tried to clear my mind for school in order to stay focused. At the same time, I was also the Web Editor-in-Chief, so I had to prioritize my responsibilities in journalism as well as taking care of my mom and being there for her when she needed me the most.

Through facing these struggles and not knowing what the future would entail, I made it my goal to always stay optimistic and hold on to what was most important to me; and that was journalism.

Not only have I gained writing skills, communication skills, and the ability to effectively lead others, but I had the chance to see what others were going through as well. Interviewing is the most important part of creating a story, and through this, I was able to build so many relationships. I had the great honor explore this at school, at the Washington Journalism and Media Conference, the Washington University Communications Institute, the Princeton Summer Journalism Program, and the JEA/NSPA Fall National High School Journalism Convention. As I gained such a profound perspective of others, I found such joy and significance in journalism itself. I took what I learned from these vigorous programs back to the classroom and would not let challenges stand in my way.

This, unfortunately, was inevitable. One day before the start of senior year, my mom passed away. I was in a state on complete shock and I did not know how I could perform daily tasks, much less succeed in school. What kept me going was knowing that my mom took such pride in my journalistic abilities and academic success. My motivation and drive stem from knowing that journalism is an exceptional outlet to communicate and empathize with others. I plan on pursuing my passion for journalism at the University of Missouri-Columbia. The past four years have thoroughly prepared me for not only rigorous academics but the strength to keep pushing forward no matter the circumstances.

I am forever grateful for all the memories I have made and the people I have connected with. This has been an amazing journey, but it is not over yet.