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Letter from the Editor: A goodbye to Missouri

Missouri is the Show-Me State. We’ve all heard — and used — that nickname for our state so many times that it’s almost become cliché at this point. I know I barely thought about what that epitomizes, what it means to be truly a “Show-Me State,” for the longest time. 

That is, until it has come to say goodbye. 

As many of you know, I grew up in Lebanon in southeast Missouri for the first dozen years of my life before relocating to South Carolina. My family is from Michigan so when we moved halfway across the country, I only left behind the playhouse my grandfather built, a swing set, and childhood friends that quickly became distant memories. I never thought I’d come back. 

Then, in 2019, my world was turned upside down. I was losing an important relationship and battling a major health issue while living in New York City. One thing led to another, and I found myself back in Missouri, this time in Jefferson City, as a statehouse reporter for The Missouri Times. 

At the time, I didn’t remember much about Missouri and certainly wasn’t as attuned to Missouri politics as I have since become. Sure, I covered the former governor’s downfall for Fox News, but I didn’t know the makeup of the integral Public Service Commission or how many times the Senate would have overnight filibusters or how much Missourinet’s Alisa Nelson loves meatloaf day at Chez Monet in the Capitol basement. 

More than that, there was a lot I didn’t know about myself when I moved back to Missouri. Who I was. What I enjoyed. Who I wanted to become and how to like myself. 

But, in true Missouri fashion, you all showed me. 

During these past three years, Missouri quickly became my home, more than just a “stop along the way.” I fell in love, I suffered the still-painful loss of my beloved grandparents, and I learned how to be a better journalist and person. 

I found I could, in fact, become close to an Ohio State fan (thanks, Rep. Tracy McCreery). I started pulling for the St. Louis Cardinals (mostly because I just wanted Scott to be happy). I discovered I’m not the only one with an affinity for Taco Bell (shoutout to Revenue Director Wayne Wallingford, Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman, Rep. Ron Hicks, and the late Rep. Tom Hannegan). 

It was here in Jefferson City where I met Josh LeVasseur — even though he and my family are from the same neck of the woods in Michigan — who has become the brightest light in my life and has seemed to survive the scrutiny of the Capitol Police (who, can I just say, are also some of the best people around). I really fell in love with Josh thanks to those overnight filibusters in the Senate when he would sneak Wendy’s spicy chicken nuggets in the Capitol for me in the middle of the night. 

It was in the Senate press gallery, my home away from home, where I met my best friend, Emily Manley. There is no more thoughtful or caring journalist than her, and I know I’ll be able to keep up with what’s going on in the Missouri Legislature once I’m gone because of her excellent coverage. And more importantly than that, Emily is the kindest human being I’ve ever met. If you haven’t already gotten to know her, please do. You can always count on her to ask — and truly care — about your day. 

Sens. Holly Rehder and Jill Schupp, also, have been beacons in my life throughout my time in Missouri — in more ways than one and more than they probably realize. As a survivor myself, watching them tenaciously advocate for survivors of sexual violence has been awe-inspiring. They will forever be role models to me. (Not to mention: The women who work in both of their offices are incredible!)

And then there’s Director Wayne Wallingford. When I first moved to Missouri, I made flashcards of all the House and Senate members with their headshots and short biographies so I could walk into the Capitol a little less unprepared on my first day. Seeing that Wayne had worked for Taco Bell Corporation, I made it a point to introduce myself early on. But over the years, I’ve learned more about him than just our mutual love for Taco Bell. I’ve gotten to really know his inspiring story, his service to our country and our state, and I can truly count him as a good friend. 

I cannot say enough about how amazing of a boss Scott is. Since becoming the editor of The Missouri Times, he has treated me more like a work partner than an employee. He’s given me the freedom to grow The Missouri Times, take chances, and write truthfully. I’ll never love beer as much as Scott does, but every time I see a Budweiser or hear someone order a Captain and Diet with two limes, I’ll be filled with appreciation of how Scott gave me the best job I’ve ever had. And while he might roll his eyes and make some joke about me being sappy, he’s not the one writing this so I’ll just say: I’ve learned more from Scott, about life, journalism, humanity, and leadership, than any other person, and I’m forever indebted. 

I could go on and on with all the people I want to thank for their time, guidance, and friendship — Gov. Mike Parson, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, Attorney General Eric Schmitt, Sen. Dave Schatz, Sen. Caleb Rowden, Sen. John Rizzo, Sen. Lincoln Hough, Sen. Lauren Arthur, Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, Rep. Ron Hicks, Rep. Crystal Quade, Rep. Bruce DeGroot, Lisa Cox, Cara and Adam at Cork — but as the person who lays out the newspaper, I know I’m running out of room. So just know, you all have made a permanent impact on my life. And I am eternally grateful. 

My grandparents were my biggest cheerleaders, and I can still hear my grandfather calling me with a chuckle in his voice as he’d quip for the 100th time: “How’s Misery?” 

When I first moved to Missouri, that joke wasn’t as funny because I was miserable and lost. But this state has become my favorite home, the place that saved me, and I will remain the biggest cheerleader for you all. 

Thank you for allowing me to cover the Capitol and be your The Missouri Times editor for the past few years. It’s been an honor.