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I joined the Future in October 2013 as a staff photographer. At the time, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. But I liked to read, and I liked to hear people’s stories, and I knew my way around a camera. It’s surprising to look back all these years later and consider how something that began as a way to pay for lunch each week became one of the major shaping forces of my life.

Our paper was an institution. I watched as each semester brought new faces into the fold as the paper’s old guard moved to other cities, other publications or other careers. Even though each staff was different, we were all friends, and each of us brought something special to our team.

I won’t pretend that it was always fun, happy or easy: Journalism, as many of you know, is an unforgiving lady, prone to fits of pique, flaring tempers and the constant stress of looming deadlines. But even those dark periods helped to bring us together. What each staff shared, regardless of race, gender, age or interest, was an unfaltering desire to get the work done. From the beginning, each of us knew that there was never going to be a safety net — no one was ever going to step in and write the paper for us, and no one wanted to be the person to break a 48-year legacy of publication.

The cynical reader might look with an incredulous eye on all that I’ve written so far, might identify this meagre essay as a last gasp of superficial platitudes shared at death’s door. To the cynic I say: I am one of you. I am angry, and I am sad. I am kept awake at night by the thought that I have failed in the most tremendous way possible, failed to tend a legacy nearly half a century in the making.

What kept me from succumbing to these dark imaginings is the joy that this paper has given me. It is the joy of a job well done. It is the joy of feeling a connection with strangers; a joy in the knowledge that your voice is being heard, that what you say has meaning. It is a joy born of laughter, hard work and the knowledge that, even in the best of times, all things must come to an end.

We did our best. I am so proud to have worked with the dozens of staff members I have had the privilege to call my friends. Though the Future is at its end, its legacy lives on in all of us.

The people who made it happen

Shana Medel, Digital Producer, Joined Summer 2016

Under the guidance of talented journalists, I had the opportunity to strengthen my writing capabilities, hone my editing skills and sharpen my reporting techniques. It’s heartbreaking to know that this is our last issue, but it wasn’t all for naught. The CFF has not only served our collegiate population for almost 50 years, but it has served the throng of aspiring journalists who were looking to grow and perfect their craft.

Alissa Smith, News Editor, Joined Spring 2016

The Future was the training ground for journalists who wanted to learn how to ask hard questions, write hard articles and command a hard-hitting section. It's now gone, but we're not. I hope to see something even better rise out of the Future's ashes. Don't count us out just yet.

Paige Wilson, Staff Photographer, Joined 2014

Journalism is best learned by doing, and there was no place better for me to put to practice what I was taught than at the Central Florida Future. This newspaper gave me the platform, opportunities and friendships for me to become the journalist and person that I am today.

Matthew Saunders, Sports Editor, Joined Fall 2015

The Future got me in the habit of stepping out of my comfort zone. From nervously accepting my first beat job covering women’s soccer to covering the sports I love in baseball, basketball and football, the people I worked with always encouraged me to strive for more.

Jillian James, Opinions Editor, Joined Summer 2016

It was truly such an honor to be able to contribute to such an esteemed publication. I will never forget the people who made working at the CFF such a joy, and I will take all that I have learned and apply it in my schoolwork and future jobs. Thank you CFF. Thanks for everything.

Christopher Davis, Sports Digital Producer, Joined Summer 2015

I thank fellow Central Florida Future alumnus Jarrod Heil for pushing me to join the paper. While at the Future, I found my passion, and it revealed my purpose. Thank you.

Jean Racine, Sports Digital Producer, Joined Spring 2016

I wanted to work for the Future because of the professionalism of the website, its respected name and for an opportunity to grow as a journalist. I can’t pinpoint a single favorite memory because I cherish all of them. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the CFF.

Caroline Glenn, Content Manager, Joined Summer 2013

The Central Florida Future defined my college experience. It was the guidepost of my life. But it was the people who I’ll never forget.

Gabby Baquero, News Editor, Joined Spring 2016

The CFF undoubtedly enhanced my personal and professional development. It gave me the chance to dig through public records, live-blog a NASA launch, cover political rallies and SGA meetings, and even challenged me to tackle a leadership role. I would've been woefully unprepared for the industry without my experience there.

Alex Storer, Entertainment Editor, Joined Fall 2015

I wanted to work at the Future because it was by far the most respected and professional news outlet serving UCF, and I thought I could get some very relevant experience. My favorite memory was when Chris Davis and I reenacted a scene from The Dark Knight Rises.

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