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Thanks, Kansas

May 23, 2015

I never wanted to be a Kansan. When my family was looking at possible new homes in 2008, I never thought the Land of Oz would actually be our next state. Nearly seven years later, I’m glad to call myself a Kansan.

Because if I had never become a Kansan, I surely never would have become a Jayhawk – something else I was never really sure I wanted to be.

I thought I wanted to be a bulldog… or a tiger… or a wildcat (not that one). Definitely not this mythical bird. But four years ago, I moved to Lawrence anyway, and I will always be thankful for that.

In looking back at the four years between moving into Ellsworth and walking through the Campanile, I find six decisions that defined my time at the University of Kansas.

Living on E6

Living on the sixth floor of Ellsworth Residence Hall freshman year gave me a KU family during that pivotal first year away from home. It gave me friendships that carried me throughout those four years at KU. I don’t know if I would have met my closest friends from college if we hadn’t all lived on E6 that year, but after we moved away from the floor and lived in different parts of town, we continued to be there for each other and walk through college together. I’ve enjoyed watching them grow, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Going to my first KU volleyball match

I’ve never cheered for a team so much or so hard. I’ll miss this outlet.

Studying abroad in Florence, Italy

I hope there is never a time in my life when I can’t picture the hills of Tuscany or return to the streets of Florence in my mind. Studying abroad led to my Italian major, friendships that gave me new perspectives, a different way to live and an appreciation for another culture. Studying abroad in Florence allows you to live like an Italian if you want to. And for that reason, a piece of my heart will always reside in Italia.

Working at the Dole Institute of Politics

While study groups will always be special to me, the Dole Institute did much more than just provide speakers and discussions. It was my second home at KU. It introduced me to people who care about what happens in the world and are working to change it. There’s a true sense of belonging when I enter that building, and I know no matter how far away I go or how much time passes between visits, that feeling will remain.

Agreeing to produce 2014 KU Student Senate Debate Coverage

I worked with KUJH before March 2014, but it was this live event that adjusted the trajectory of my life. I agreed to produce debate coverage, which led to me asking to produce election night coverage. Throwing out the rundown during 2014 Student Senate Election Night confirmed for me that producing was the right career path. The adrenaline I had running from the newsroom to control room and back was something I longed to feel again. I continue to feel it every time my newsroom goes live, whether it’s a newscast or a big event.

Interning/Working at 6News

If KUJH News confirmed I wanted to be a producer, interning at 6News confirmed I could be a producer. But I got so much more from 6News than just journalism skills, opportunities to produce newscasts, the chance to produce President Obama visit coverage and the foundation for a job at WIBW. It was my first professional newsroom family, complete with challenges, successes, mentors, awkward moments, celebrations and even a hospital visit. I will forever advocate for interning at the smaller stations.

To 15-year-old Allison, being a Kansan isn’t so bad. And no, you won’t get swept away by a tornado. Or meet Toto. But you may find a brick road or two.

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