A farewell to Kernel writing, UK

Column by Katie Perkowski. E-mail [email protected].

When my mom and I came to Lexington for our first visit to UK, it seemed like it was the millionth tour we’d been on, but I immediately felt at ease because of the warmth of the people we encountered.

I still remember the kind smile and the “Welcome to Lexington, I’m glad y’all are here” we received from a man we asked for directions to the Visitor Center.

Now, four years later, the kind people like him in Lexington and the places they’ve brought me to have helped me make the city my home and grow into the person I am today.

During the tour that hot day in July when we walked past what I didn’t know was the journalism building, its curved staircases in the front immediately attracted me. Little did I know just how many hours I would spend in that building in the years to come.

I avoided going down to what I now refer to as “the basement,” my entire freshman year because I was too nervous. Later, when my journalism class required at least two publications, I nervously walked into the Kernel one Friday afternoon with a “story idea.” The then-news editor, without whose patience I would never have had the courage to keep coming down to the basement, instead of laughing at my idea to do a profile on White Hall classroom building’s mail room, encouraged me and gave me different angles to try.

Even though that story never ran, the fact that someone was willing to encourage me to pursue my ideas and later assign me other stories when my first one was a flop, is the reason I continued to write. She is not the only person without whose encouragement I wouldn’t have been able to grow in my time at UK.

There’s an office in the first floor of the journalism building where I, along with numerous other journalism students, have had a few nervous breakdowns in front of our journalism professor. Without the constant guidance, patience and kind encouragement from my adviser (the same one whom when I e-mailed him that I was having a hard time with something called me even though he was away at a conference to make sure everything was OK), I would have probably lost my sanity.

There’s a beautiful house at 238 E. Maxwell St. where I’ve had the privilege to live and where I’ve met some of my best friends. And there’s a “mom” who lives in the back apartment, where she’s let me vent to her about problems and has made me terrible-tasting, but healing, cups of tea when I was sick. This same woman is coming to my graduation.

There’s a scar on my ankle I got when hopping the barrier to rush the field after the glorious game when UK beat No. 1 LSU. I still get the chills when I look at it.

There’s an office in the Main Building where I had the privilege of meeting UK President Lee Todd. Hearing him talk about his visions for his university was inspiring because everything he said, he said so genuinely. I’m lucky to have gone to a school with a president who cares so much about not only his alma mater’s future, but also his entire state’s future.

And finally, there’s that basement in the journalism building where I’ve spent countless hours trying to write about things that matter. I’ve shed tears and sweat in that basement, and without the teamwork and patience of our hardworking staff, I wouldn’t have learned a thing.

I hope I have inherited the friendly and hardworking spirit of the people I’ve met in Kentucky. A thousand times over, thank you, and I’m happy y’all would have me.