It’s been nearly five years since I first stepped onto the Emporia State campus and slept in my cramped dorm bed on the first floor of North Tower. I remember how excited I was to experience life in college, make friends, learn and grow as a person. I’ve worked many jobs while here at ESU and have been involved in a number of organizations, including a fraternity for two years. As April quickly comes to an end, I have started to reflect on my time at ESU and at The Bulletin

I was hired at The Bulletin as the opinion editor a few weeks before school started during my freshman year, fall of 2018. I quickly realized I despised writing opinions and wanted to focus on telling other people’s stories rather than just my own. However, the social aspects of college caught up to me and I left The Bulletin in the spring of 2019 to spend more time with friends and Greek life.

Life at ESU hasn’t always been easy; I’ve made it through a pandemic that completely changed the way I saw Emporia. After 2020, I had a new start. Friends had moved away and I left my fraternity, Alpha Kappa Lambda, which was once my safe haven. After that year, I realized it was time for me to, as my dad would say, “buckle-down and get it together.” I focused hard on school and got my priorities together. 

I rejoined The Bulletin in the spring of 2021 and immersed myself into the world of journalism. I took several classes from Max McCoy, Bulletin adviser and professor of journalism, and began to take my career as a journalist more seriously. Max helped me grow not only my passion for journalism, but the confidence I needed to succeed as a writer and as a reporter. I considered Max my mentor when it came to all things journalism. At times he frustrated me and he pushed me harder than a lot of his students. I know now this was because he saw something in me. Something, I hope, that would now make him proud.

And then he got fired. 

Sam Bailey, managing editor for The Bulletin and my close friend, was with me while we stood outside the Earl Center that day in September. We watched as professors, some we knew, filed in and out of the building throughout the day. We stayed there in the hot sun all day, until the last car left the parking lot at 5 p.m. 

Max did a great job of preparing us for reporting on a wide-variety of situations and emergencies. We had not, however, been taught or prepared to report on the termination of him and 32 other professors that we looked up to. 

Sam and I watched as professors lost their jobs. Some cried, some chose not to give us a comment, others confided in us and wondered how they would tell their families. They wondered why they were not given a specific reason for their dismissal. I wondered, too.

The weeks went on and our reporting continued. We asked questions that we knew people wanted to know. Our reporting raised some eyebrows and ruffled some feathers on and off campus. We worked around the clock to provide the Emporia community with all information about the restructuring process. 

Mentally and emotionally, this took a big toll on myself and the staff. We were shamed and questioned by prominent figures on campus. We were led to believe we were doing something wrong by asking questions. 

Without Max to advise us on any of this, we confided in Sarah Spicer, Bulletin alumna and current reporter for The Committee to Protect Journalists in New York City. While also working a full-time job, Sarah did her best to help us on the endless reporting we were doing. 

Earlier this month, The Bulletin staff was awarded the first ever “Big Journalism” (Big J) award from the Kansas Collegiate Media association at the annual conference in Wichita. Colleagues and fellow student journalists from schools across the state stood and applauded our work as we accepted the award. When constantly being told to mind our own business and threatened to have the police called on us for asking questions to university figures, it was validating to be encouraged and awarded for seeking the truth. The award, a large capital J, now sits in our newsroom, serving as a constant reminder that we are doing the right thing.  

On May 13, I will walk across the stage, accept my diploma from Emporia State and begin to forget the last year, while embracing the great times I had in previous years.  

After graduating, I will be moving to Wichita to begin a summer internship that I was offered at the Wichita Eagle. After the internship ends in August, I don’t have a clear idea of what the future holds, which is a bit frightening. No matter what comes my way, I will always remember the people I met in Emporia that have made me the person I am today. 

Thank you to my parents, who have never given up on me and religiously read and “like” every single Bulletin article on Facebook. Thank you to Sam for being my partner in crime this past year, I could not have done a single thing without your help. Thank you to my best friends in the world who I met here at ESU, Jaycie and Joe - you both are the best thing Emporia has given me. Finally, thank you to Max McCoy for your many years of hard work and teaching at ESU, because I know nobody else here has told you that. You deserved a better goodbye. 

Goodbye Emporia and The Bulletin. I’ll forever be grateful for the lessons I learned here and all of the people I’ve met along the way. 


Cameron Burnett

Editor-in-Chief 2023

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