Column: I’ll never say ‘goodbye,’ but I will say I am eternally grateful

By Dyana Daniels, Managing Editor

Savanna Steffens

One thing I learned quickly growing up was to never say the word “goodbye.” My dad used to always tell my brother and me that it was fine to say “see you later“ or “see you tomorrow,” but never use something so final.

And I think that is one of the toughest lessons I’m still learning.

Whether it is never getting to say goodbye to my dad for the last time when I was 12 or writing this column at age 22, I refuse to use that word. So instead of saying “goodbye” to the Chronicle, I just want to say “thank you.”

Thank you for taking a chance on me when I didn’t believe in myself. Thank you for giving me opportunities I never could have hoped for. And thank you for showing me that I am capable of more than I could have dreamed.

If you had told me around this time in 2017 that I would somehow go from a staff reporter to a news editor to a managing editor with professional clips to my name, I would probably look at you as if you had two heads. I had come from a high school with a mediocre journalism program, at best, and I was going to a college deemed a “halfway home” by that same school.

My senior year of high school was far from noteworthy, and I felt as if I was falling into my brother’s shadow because I was going to the school he graduated from with the same major. I won’t say that was rock bottom, but it felt close.

So to be here now is truly a dream I have yet to wake up from. The Chronicle and Columbia helped mold me into the person I am today, and everyone has seen me at my best and my worst. I could pitch anything and everything at the Chronicle—as long as it had a Chicago and Columbia angle, and some of those pitches were hits, while others were misses.

I was allowed to write about students who have YouTube channels, and it was somehow a front-page story. I got to write about something as random as sunflowers and the impact they can have on a city environment. They even let me write about audio porn that one time. A YouTuber I followed at the time even tweeted about a story I wrote! How wild is that? 

If Curtis Lawrence, the Chronicle’s amazing faculty adviser, had not flagged down my mom’s truck or sent Lauren Leazenby, my work wife and the Chronicle’s former news editor, to convince me to apply, I have no idea where I would be. And I am forever grateful.

If I didn’t work at the Chronicle, I would not have met some of my closest friends, written outlandish stories that I am proud of or be a co-host of the most random podcast to ever exist. But I wouldn’t trade this experience.

I come away from my time at the Chronicle as not only a better journalist but a better person. My courses at Columbia taught me how to give a voice to the voiceless and make sure I cross fault lines when looking for sources, but the Chronicle really helped me hone that and put it into practice.

I am eternally grateful for my time at both Columbia and the Chronicle, and I will never forget explaining Bon Appetit’s gourmet videos to Travis Truitt, our general manager, or the happy dances I would do after I finished talking to a source on the phone.

I’ll never forget every kind word said or every inside joke that was muttered. So from the bottom of my heart, I just want to thank everyone at this newspaper for taking a chance on me. I now know I can truly handle whatever the future holds for me.