Four years may not seem like a long time to some people, but for me, the past four years have been monumental in creating the person I am today.
For the past four years, Bemidji has been my home. It is where I spent my first years as a "real adult." It is the first place I moved from my hometown, it is where I graduated college, got my first pet, lived in my first apartment, got engaged and landed my first "big kid" job.
It may sound cheesy, but moving here, choosing to go to school at Bemidji State University, and working at the Pioneer were the best decisions I ever could have made. I made so many lifelong friends and got the experience I needed to go forward in my life.
But like most good things, it must come to an end. A couple of weeks ago I moved to Rochester with my fiance to begin a new chapter of our lives.
Although I may not be a Pioneer journalist anymore, I will never stop writing. Working at the Pioneer had its share of challenges as any job does, but when I found my pen -- or in many cases, my laptop -- I found my voice. It helped me figure out what I wanted to share with the world and what to shine a light on.
Writing columns on the environment and leaving this planet better than we found it became my main themes. Environmentalism is a huge part of who I am and what I believe in, and by having this platform I was able to reach so many people, not just in Bemidji but across Minnesota and beyond.
Richard Branson once said, “There is no greater thing you can do with your life and your work than follow your passions in a way that serves the world and you.” I hope to continue doing so.
So, after a year and a half at the Pioneer, I will be handing over my position to someone new who will also hopefully find their voice in the world of journalism. They, too, will get to experience how much this job makes you grow in so many ways.
I won't lie, I shed a small tear writing this last column, because I will miss writing things for the paper and doing crafts for the magazine here at work. I will also miss so many things that make Bemidji special, like all our amazing downtown restaurants, walking by the lake, watching tourists try to take selfies with Paul and Babe and watching live music at the waterfront.
Although I am moving away, I still plan on making my way up the First City on the Mississippi every once in a while to see all the friends I made while living here, so it's not "goodbye Bemidji," it's just "see you later" -- for now.
Also, I can't leave without sharing a few of the random things I learned in my time here: the Bemidji Parks and Recreation Department deserve a ton of recognition for what they do for the community, the Bemidji Jaycees have one of the best firework shows I've ever seen, people here are crazy enough to go watch hockey in -60 degree weather, and floating down the Mississippi River is one of the most relaxing summer activities of all time.
In conclusion, I want to say thank you. Thank you Bemidji State for giving me such an amazing education, thank you my wonderful Pioneer crew for being an amazing group to work with and thank you Bemidji for being my home.
Hannah LaVigne is a multimedia journalist for the Pioneer. She can be reached at email@example.com.