There are a few questions that run through my head every time I sit at my desk to write a column: Will my audience be better off having read this? Will I be better off having written this? Will I leave this community, the people who have become family to me here, better off than when I first arrived? 

These are the questions I’ve carried in the back of my mind writing for this community I love for three years. Every time I write I consider the students on campus, my colleagues at the law school, Texas Tech alumni, the city of Lubbock and West Texas.  I consider my friends, family and the people I grew up with. I consider myself and whether the words, sentences and paragraphs I write help me grow as a person, a writer and future lawyer. 

I did not plan on becoming one of the main voices for the Opinions section at The Daily Toreador for three years. I didn’t think I’d have the time to write so often with law school, but the people in this newsroom and the excited energy and passion drew me in.

The Daily Toreador helped me find my voice. It changed the way I wrote, and it helped me understand my love of humor as a former satire columnist came from something deeper — a need to speak truth to power, a strong desire to discuss the things that are difficult in life and an understanding there is power to words.

 Humor has always been my vehicle for truth, but the DT helped show me there were other ways to bring truth to my community. I learned there is strength in being vulnerable and sharing personal stories. That context above all else will always show the weakness of many political issues. And I learned about myself, how to speak truth through narratives I could build that make readers personally feel the perspective in every word I bring to a topic.  

Every column is an imprint of my personal self. From my first year using and trying to shift away from my roots in humor, my second using my understanding of the law, and my third combining all of that with my love for my community. Every column, every sentence and word I use, is chosen carefully with the desire to serve my community and grow personally.

Writing is how I understand and make sense of the world. And as a columnist and an editor this  semester helping others find their voice, I can only hope my writing has helped others make sense of the world themselves. If nothing else, I hope I was able to provide humor to this community the way I find it in every aspect of this strange and amazing world.  

Here’s the thing; I am not a self-made man. You can trace a line through my past, through the many jobs I’ve had, the eight years of higher education, every work of writing I’ve ever had published, and understand that there were people who shaped me into the man I am today. 

They shaped who I would become and helped me without ever expecting anything in return. These people have taught me to always accept others with love, kindness and most importantly, forgiveness, and taught me to use what gifts I was provided in this world to help serve those the same way they helped me.

My faith, which this community has helped me grow, might lead me to call this idea continuing in God’s grace. I would just the same call it gratitude  — recognizing what it is to be human, and know that in everything we do in life, relationships and people, will always be the most important part of our lives. 

These are the people I have to express gratitude for these past three years:

To start, I have to thank my friends from my first year of law school, our group we dubbed “The Firm.” Kevin, who I’ll always have to meet at Robin’s Nest. Kyle the first person I’d ask for life advice, his wife Erin and their family. Adam and his wife Elisha and their family, who have always been kind to me. Matt and Patrick, friends who became like brothers to me in law school. Hannah, the only girl in our group who we were all lucky enough to have keep us on track with classes. 

I have to thank Lorenzo, my roommate from first year and best friend from college. I would not be at Tech without you or your parents, and I will always be grateful for your help. My friend Paige Foster, the kindest person I have ever met, her family and her cat Chloe — there is no friendship I think that could survive as much as ours has.

I cannot thank enough Professor Sutton, my mentor and the person responsible for every opportunity I’ve been grateful enough to have at the school. Professor Ramirez, our conversations on life that have helped me get through law school. Professor Camp for allowing me to come to his office and talk about everything except the subject of his courses I was in.

Professor Henry and Professor Drake for their extra help. And importantly, I have to thank Professor Casto and his generous gift this year of one of his old shirts that did not fit him — it is comfortable, and it almost makes up for his previous gift, a D in his contracts course the first year of law school. 

There are my mentors in the legal community — Ryan Turner, Judge Hernandez and Judge Benham.  My neighbors in my apartment complex, particularly my neighbor Marie who greets me every morning and promises I will be the best lawyer this world has ever known (who I would never show my GPA for fear of breaking her heart). 

My church, my gospel community, my former editor Avery, one of my best friends, who has aided me in my faith. Nathan and Emma, my close friends whose cat I lost on the first night watching her (sorry again, glad Mabel made it home!). Sasha and the Texas Tech club tennis team — our championship tournament in Arlington will always be one of my best memories.

If you can understand my love of this community, my friends, my family and my faith here, you can ask the girl from West Texas. She taught me the importance of just knowing there is someone in your life that accepts and cares for you. 

Knowing I had a best friend who cared about me as much as you did, helped me more than you know. I will always be grateful to God for meeting you when I did, and my future wife will have our friendship to thank for these understandings.

These are the people I have to thank most for my work at the DT:

My family, my mom and dad, my younger siblings my sisters Marissa and Angela, my brother Aaron, my Aunt Velma, my cousins and other family members too many to list (Congrats Joey and Rachel on the little Horned Frog!).  I am amazed with how much all of you have grown every time I see you and I could not not write what I do without all of you in my life.

My colleagues and friends at the DT, who laughed at even the most vulgar jokes I could tell. The long nights I spent with editors and my staff who I am proud to have watched grow. The advisers who I apologize now for not making every meeting with — thank you for the memories I will always cherish.

Most importantly I have my friends Gaige Davila and Gloria Matheson (your next Opinions editor) to thank for getting me through this year and inspiring much of my writing. There is no one as passionate about journalism and writing as these two in my life, and there is no opinion or conversation I value more than theirs.  

And of course, Texas Tech, Lubbock, West Texas — thank you for becoming my second home. Thank you for reading my work and that of my passionate colleagues at the DT, the best place I have ever worked for. I am a better person having lived here these past three years in this community, and I'll always be grateful to you.

P.S. I forgot to mention my personal hero, Cody the horse. I was devastated to hear Fearless Champion had been injured last August but, Cody came through and performed to be the hero horse this school needed most in the clutch. We should all strive to be more like Cody.

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