Senior Sendoff: Curly little girl says goodbye

On the sideline, Francie prepares to photograph Butler men’s basketball’s first game in the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden. 

Francie Wilson | Digital Managing Editor | fwilson@butler.edu

It’s August, and I’m checking Canvas every day to see who I have class with. It’s August, and I’m thrilled because I love school, and I always have.  

It’s September, and I have COVID-19, and the only thing that makes me feel better is taking pictures for a photo story we decided not to post.

It’s October, and I’m celebrating my last family weekend at Butler. It’s October, and every light turns off while I’m taking photos during the men’s soccer game.

It’s November, and Alison Miccolis starts staying late on Tuesday nights. It’s November, and I’m taking photos on the court at Hinkle — I create my photography account. It’s November, and Emily, my friend from home, finally gets to visit.

It’s December 15 and oddly warm, and Katie Freeman and I decide to lay on the mall for the first time ever and afterward, we hit the Sellick bowl — this is something you will want to remember. 

It’s January, and there is an obscene amount of laundry in Hinkle Fieldhouse, especially towels.

It’s February, and I have shoveled the driveway four times in one day. It’s February, and I cracked my camera before tipoff of my last game in Hinkle.

Camera with cracked lens protector on Feb. 20, 2022.

It’s March, and I just walked from Fairbanks to Dugan Hall following Dr. Gary Edgerton so I could complete my blue book test. It’s March, and I’ve packed the carry-on I’ll take from Arizona to New York. It’s March and Butler just beat Xavier while I was courtside at Madison Square Garden. It’s March, and Aaron Thompson is making me cry in the press conference.

It’s April, and I just stayed awake from 7:00 p.m. until 7:00 a.m. for the Collegian, saw Professor Bridge and then went to breakfast with Ellie Allen after. It’s April, and I just stabbed myself in the mouth with a Chipotle chip and spit water all over Katie’s car because she made me laugh so hard. It’s April, and I just became friends with 12 almost-strangers in Chicago. 

It’s April, and the last thing I want to be doing is writing this article because writing it means I have to accept that I’m graduating. 

It’s the little moments from this year, and the culmination of all four years, that makes me want to stay. It’s receiving enough hate comments to finally help me realize it doesn’t matter what other people think about you. It’s not wanting to leave but having to go.

There are plenty of ways I have thought of starting my senior sendoff in the last week. Most of them avoid starting the first 25 sentences with the word “it’s,” but somehow, it’s the only way I could get the words on the page.

A good senior sendoff should do a lot of things: show growth, be funny, demonstrate development as a writer — oops — and even potentially share what makes the Collegian so special. If that is what you’re looking for, may I recommend Katie Freeman’s?

I am happy to turn around a quick inverted pyramid news story, a sports article or a photograph of nearly anything, but something about including my own voice and opinion is always a shocking challenge for someone as outspoken as myself. That being said, please bear with me as I try to encapsulate four years I have yet to emotionally process. 

At the Collegian, everyone embraces me for who I am. By the time you read this, it will have inevitably gone through at least five pairs of eyes, so while the mental strife and anguish may come across, please try to remember you are only seeing a dash of the dishevelment that Ellie Allen, Henry Bredemeier, Emma Beavins, Katie Freeman and Alison Miccollis deal with on a weekly, if not daily basis. 

With my brief 676 word lead out of the way, I feel no more prepared to write this than I did 676 words ago, but I hope I’ve captured your attention, or you at least made it to Katie’s sendoff.

“Debbie Downer”

Young Francie, circa age three wearing sunglasses.

Possibly one of my worst habits and greatest character flaw is, I tend to complain about the things I care about the most. So much so, I have been given the nickname “Debbie Downer” — thank you, Professor Bridge. 

All jokes and nicknames aside, I do not know where I would be without these people or this paper. The only way to describe the community and sense of belonging I have felt at the Collegian is indescribable. 

Our sophomore year, Katie Freeman and I made a pact to never be editors for the Collegian. We saw the pressure and the stress our editors experienced and thought it would be too much for us. 

I remember thinking at that moment, something I think often now, “If Katie Freeman can’t do it, there’s no way in hell I can.” While I didn’t need the Collegian to bring me my CCOM person, spending time with Katie laying on the mall or the Sellick Bowl, in class or at the paper are some of the things I will miss most about this university as a whole. 

The first time I met Alison was at Collegian boot camp before the start of the 2021-22 school year, when she unintentionally roasted the sh*t out of me. From that moment, I was thrilled to work with her. This year I have learned so much about Alison: she loves planning parties, is cool without knowing it and makes a wonderful tour guide. Thanks to her, I can always unironically wear my Chuck Harris merch. 

Right now, I can’t think of anything that has made me more proud than working as digital managing editor on the Collegian. This position has given me confidence and encouraged me to pursue goals I shied away from for years. I owe who I have grown into to the Collegian, but also to Ellie Allen.

Ellie has the most difficult job: dealing with me on little sleep, followed by running the Collegian. Not only is Ellie a great friend, but she also adds rationality to my life that I dearly need. Ellie is the type of person who spent an hour on FaceTime helping me work through my capstone project when she had a million other things to do. Even though Ellie has become one of my closest friends, I will always look up to her. 

As I write about working with Henry I am listening to showtunes, one of the few things me and the ex-theatre kid managing editor can agree on. I once told Henry I had “never been mad at him before,” and that was a lie. One of the best parts of Tuesday is joking with Henry, and while we bicker, I know there is no one more dedicated or deserving of the men’s basketball beat than him. Traveling home from New York together? Hilarious. 

Before the Collegian, Emma was always one of my favorite people to have Spanish class with. Emma is the kind of person who always knows the right time to reach out and the right thing to say, which is what makes her such a wonderful writer. 

While Debbie Downer might not be the best nickname, each of these people has embraced me for who I am, and at the end of the day, at least Debbie makes people laugh. 

Photo

For a lot of my life I have wanted to be a photographer but have been too scared to believe it could be a possibility. The Collegian not only gave me the platform to work towards my goal but the confidence to try it. 

I was supported to push for my goals but also encouraged to get out of my comfort zone. If it weren’t for The Butler Collegian editorial board last year, and specifically Xan Korman, I never would have worked up the courage to sit on the baseline of Hinkle this season. 

Xan taught me something that will stick with me forever, and I think of it every time I take photos. Xan taught me that athletes are just people, and while it’s a simple piece of advice, I think of our conversation as the one that gave me confidence to branch out and chase my dreams. I am so thankful to have had Xan as my photo editor and someone to look up to.  

While my path back to photography was unique, I wouldn’t change it for the world. 

Working first as a news reporter sophomore year taught me dedication, grit and that if you pitch enough sports-adjacent stories, you might get to write one. Becoming a photographer and eventually assistant photo editor guided me in the right direction, but without all of these experiences, I wouldn’t be where I am today: jobless and sleep deprived, yet very happy. 

The Collegian has been with me through all my highs and lows, from Madison Square Garden to misspelling my first interviewee’s name incorrectly throughout my first article.

Do I wish I had started the Collegian sooner? Absolutely. If I could go back and get more time with this editorial board I would do it in a heartbeat. No matter the challenge, the stress or anything going on outside FB210, these people give me confidence, hope and make me laugh without fail. 

It’s April, and I’m soaking up all the vibes in the Collegian office. It’s Wednesday, April 20, and this paper changed my life.

Authors

*

Top