Her dwelling, located on the second floor of the Communications building, which I first visited during my freshman year at Arkansas State University in early 2010, was the epitome of a journalist’s cubicle in a newsroom.
The wall was covered in credentials for college media conferences, plaques and pictures.
Then there were the newspapers.
How many newspapers occupied space on her desk, book shelves and filing cabinets I can’t and won’t begin to contemplate.
There were old, faded issues of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the local Jonesboro Sun and the even more local paper, The Herald, the student newspaper Ms. Thrasher had been the adviser for since August 1993.
I was a year and a half old then. When our paths first crossed , I was just an 18-year-old college student working on a Comp I research paper about objectivity in journalism. At the time I was a theatre major who had abandoned the journalism path after two years in high school working for the school paper and TV news program.
By September 2010, I was joining the Herald to cover sports. By the first week of November, after attending the College Media Association’s convention in Louisville, I changed my major to journalism.
These two acts ensured Ms. Thrasher would be a constant part of my college experience until graduation on May 11, 2013.
She’s the closest I’ll ever get to having a personal Mr. Feeny.
The second thing you noticed about Ms. Thrasher’s office was the silent droning of NPR.
Ms. Thrasher and I were never that close and small talk or personal conversations was never on the agenda or part of the official record. I think our personalities just weren’t that compatible.
Because of this, there were long periods of silence while I sat in the chair across from her desk as she examined a story I had written or the fifth version of a sports page I had designed at 2 a.m.
While she did this a small, black radio sitting over her right shoulder always seemed to play the soothing sounds of “All Things Considered.”
It was during these sessions, most of them during my senior year, that I received my one-on-one sermons in the basics of journalism. Those basics were helped me create work that got me into graduate school at Indiana University, which led directly into my internship with Sporting News.
The last time I saw Ms. Thrasher, Homecoming weekend in 2013, I told her about the possibility of working for Sporting News (which didn’t come along till the next July) and I thanked her for putting up with me for three years through my stubbornness. Many times I never felt I had a grasp of her opinion of me.
Earlier in May, at the Herald’s end of the year party on the Comm building patio, she gave me an award for best staff sports reporter and she told me herself I deserved it. It was my proudest moment as a journalist to that point.
My Sporting New internship eventually led to my current position at NBCSports.com and moving to Fort Worth, Texas. It led to me covering the media day for Texas Motor Speedway all of yesterday.
It was when I finished my work and opened up Facebook that I learned Ms. Thrasher had passed away over the weekend.
I’ve had teachers I enjoyed more and professors I’ve had closer relationships with. But Ms. Thrasher was the one I spent the most time with. She was also my first real editor. She wasn’t going to let you put out a sub par product. Whether it was an improperly cropped photo, a shoddy cutline or too much white space.
At times she made things feel tedious. But tedious made the paper better.
I’m where I’m at now because Ms. Thrasher cared.
I was hoping to thank her personally again sometime this fall, whenever I got back to Jonesboro.
But this will have to do.
Thank you Ms. Thrasher. Thank you for being my professor, my adviser and my editor.
Thank you for pointing me in the right direction.