The stresses of modern education and deadline anxieties are coming to an end, and three of the Daily Lobo's own staff are looking forward to having time to spend enjoying the outdoors.
Culture editor Luisa Pennington, sports editor Alanie Rael and photographer and reporter Kristina Tanberg are three of the seniors departing from the University of New Mexico this week, diplomas in hand.
After three and a half years at UNM and half a year as the culture editor of the Daily Lobo, Pennington is graduating at 20 years old with a double major in English and environmental communications and a minor in political science. She began at the University as a journalism major but switched to English for more freedom and variety in what she was writing.
Pennington started working at the Lobo in 2018.
"I was two years into college and said, 'I'm still not writing enough,'" Pennington said. "I walked into the Lobo kind of reluctantly because I thought I would be biting off more than I could chew."
Pennington points to her genetics as a reason she is graduating early, coming from a family of educators. She was taught never to say "no" to new opportunities, she said.
"The world has presented so many beautiful experiences to me," she said. "I'd rather say I'm exhausted and I experienced it than nothing at all."
Currently, Pennington doesn’t think she’ll continue with journalism after college — at least not immediately. After graduation, she plans to spend more time out in nature before her position with Teach for America begins in August of 2020.
Luke Standley, a religious studies student at UNM and friend of Pennington's of two years, met her at a party where they perused each other’s Spotify listens, creating a bond. He recalled fondly the time she broke his brother’s back windshield.
"We had just finished snow skiing and water skiing and Luisa was getting something out of his car," Standley said. "We brought our big amp to play music while we were at the lake, so it was in the back."
"She got whatever she was looking for, slammed the door and the amp went straight through the window," he said. "There was not a bit of glass left on the window."
Standley added that Pennington will still be invited on skiing trips, regardless of the previous chaos.
Kristina Tanberg has been friends with Pennington since her sophomore year of high school. She’ll be leaving UNM with a degree in international studies focused on environment and sustainability, and a minor in earth and planetary sciences. She began working at the Lobo this semester and was prompted to apply for the job because it involved photography, something Tanberg is passionate about.
Tanberg noted the impact that her first year of college had on her.
"I took a Freshman Learning Community (FLC) course. They mash a group of students in the same classes," said Tanberg. "There, I made my solid core group of friends that I’ve had throughout all of college."
Rather than rushing into a career right away, she plans to take things a bit more slowly allowing her to do what is best for herself, she divulged.
"I want to be able to take some time for myself rather than giving it to so many other things," Tanberg said.
This may include a stint at the U.S. Forestry Service, where she has applied to work. Tanberg said that after a year, she’ll return to school for a master’s degree.
Julia Andreas, Tanberg’s friend and roommate of three years and a UNM biology student, points to nature as a force that helped shaped their friendship. The friendship solidified on a sunset bike ride along the Rio Grande during a stressful week.
"If she goes someplace, she’ll like find me a rock and bring it to me," said Andreas. "If I go someplace, I find her some rocks."
"I have about 18 rocks in my car right now," Tanberg said. "One of them I thought was a dinosaur tooth, but it turns out it’s an artifact from indigenous people that live up near Canada."
Alanie Rael, the sports editor for the Lobo, was originally working toward a forestry degree at New Mexico Highlands University before transferring to UNM in the fall of 2017. She’s receiving a multimedia journalism degree with a minor in geography.
She found her interest in journalism after the photograph of a Syrian boy in an ambulance was widely distributed around major Western media outlets.
"I got into the journalism program because I was interested to know what they were teaching people out of college," said Rael. "I wanted to know what the proper ethics around it were and if there was something I was missing."
Rael will return to Girls, Inc. of Santa Fe after finishing at UNM. Girls, Inc. is a non-profit with a chapter in Santa Fe that helps girls foster strong communication skills, healthy relationships and open-mindedness toward STEM careers. Ally has been working with the female-empowering non-profit for years, and it's something she is passionate about, she said.
"As much as I love journalism, working with children is kind of my calling," she said. "I feel I found that calling very early in life, and I’m very happy for that."
Rael became close friends with Makayla Grijalva, the managing editor at the Lobo, while on a trip to Cuba together this past summer. The two friends spent one week abroad learning the culture of the island through photography.
Grijalva recalled an experience of going to a late showing of Frozen 2 with Rael.
"We went at 10:35 p.m. to avoid all the children, and she thought the entire theatre was empty," Grijalva said. "A Walmart commercial comes on, talking about buying presents for your kids and how buying all these huge things is what you have to do."
"She just yells at the screen, 'Consumerism for Christmas is a lie!'" Grijalva said. "I was like, 'Ally, there’s people in the theatre! They’re gonna think we’re gonna throw up a ruckus!'"
As Tanberg considers a job with the forest service, Rael and Pennington are preparing to start a new job working together at Ski Santa Fe for the winter. A part of each of their post-college plans is continuing to build their relationships to the natural world.
"I have a really deep appreciation for it because it’s simpler than having to be at school, or work, or around a lot of people," said Rael.
"Honestly," Tanberg said, "Being outdoors is the only place I really feel happy and at peace."
"We are conditioned to have something out within four hours, the day it happens," Pennington said, referencing her job at the student paper. "And to be able to have the whole day to complete a hike to get to the top of a mountain — it’s your pace, you’re completely in control. What’s more beautiful than that autonomy?"
Alex Hiett is a beat news reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Nmal1123
Loreena Cain is a culture reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @DailyLobo