Most Medill kids likely have a similar story — as nerdy, naive high schoolers, we researched the top journalism schools and took a chance by applying to Northwestern. After setting foot on campus, we quickly realized that rankings don’t guarantee real-life perfection.

By my senior year, I realized that Medill is immensely competitive, often to the point of being isolating. Many students check LinkedIn as often as Instagram and quietly judge their peers based on extracurriculars, internships and other superficial standards. Those same standards led us to Northwestern, after all.

Yet this intense environment also cultivates dedicated student publications — there, you’ll find neurotic staff that eventually feels like a family. My education would be incomplete without North by Northwestern: the groggy, at-times frustrating hours spent at final checks or the whirlwind hed and dek brainstorming sessions. I have met strikingly talented writers, photographers and designers, most of them self-taught (through Tumblr and self-published horse magazines).

I have gone to extreme lengths to fundraise, pushed by the desire to hold our painstaking work in my hands and strew glossy copies across campus. I have enjoyed watching each print managing editor mold their own unique issue and work to improve NBN for future generations. Most importantly, my co-editors have challenged my views and held me accountable for my privilege, which I am eternally grateful for.

North by Northwestern consistently brings together a scrappy, gifted bunch of young people and tells the stories that nobody else will. It taught me that assembling a print magazine is both incredibly strenuous and deeply rewarding, a process worth preserving in uncertain times.

I know that NBN spoiled me by giving me access to the entire messy, intoxicating magazine production process. Most likely, I’ll never again simultaneously help build an issue from scratch, scramble to fund it, and hand it over to readers myself. As I enter a career that’s unstable at best, I bring the skills NBN gave me: collaboration, fact-checking (Medill needs to teach this more thoroughly!), thinking on my feet, persistence and, of course, the ability to stay in one stuffy room for seven hours without losing it.