End of an Era: Benítez departs from the NI



The NI 2022-2023 staff went out to eat together at Los Cabos to celebrate their achievements together.

The college search process and choosing the right fit was the hardest choice I have ever made in my life. I remember telling my voice coach Mary Anne Sims, also known as mama Sims, my official choice. She told me to not tell a single person for a week and to let the choice sit with me.

My name is Nixson Benitez, I am a first generation college student, and I knew that making this choice would not only impact my future, but also my entire family. My parents risked a lot coming to Iowa, and if I didn’t get this choice right, a lot was at stake. This pressure haunted me because this was all uncharted territory.

I came to UNI on a college tour with my cousin, and we both remember the connections we made. I then returned again by myself, and when the tour concluded, I was sitting alone during lunch in Maucker. I was invited over to sit with a couple of the leaders, and the connection I had at UNI just deepened. I told them the ideas I had and how I wanted to achieve them. During this time, I was making beats and music — and I wanted to go bigger. 

The leaders told me if I came to UNI, that I could change the atmosphere, and that they would support me throughout the journey. From our conversations and their support, I saw UNI like a second home. 

A week later I announced my choice to come to UNI. 

The Faculty Avengers 

I want to first thank all the faculty and staff at UNI. I also want to thank the custodians for their work and also the Piazza staff in Redecker. Every department at UNI shaped my experience from the food to the classrooms. I can’t thank you enough.

I also want to give a huge shout out to what I like to reference as the Faculty Avengers. Someone asked me one day what I thought of the faculty and I responded to them saying, “They are hands down the best in the state.” I even took it upon myself to reference and cast some of the faculty in what I believe to be the UNI Avengers. If I was given $100 million dollars to produce a huge film on the Iowa Avengers, it would have to be with the digital media staff. I can’t thank you all enough for taking me under your wings and giving me a platform to grow. I am truly proud of this department, and I will wear it like a sticker in the professional world.

Grateful for the Northern Iowan

I am extremely grateful to have been the Executive Editor for two years. This was the hardest role I have ever had, and I learned so much from being in it. My first year as the executive editor was the most challenging year, and the most learning I have ever experienced. 

Being executive editor is a huge privilege, and I am truly grateful and honored to have carried the torch these past two years through uncharted waters.

Before becoming the executive editor, I covered a Spanish beat for a semester, where I would report in both English and Spanish. I worked directly with the former News Editor, Elizabeth Kelsey, and former reporter Mario Mendez, who I hired later to be the first Spanish Editor. I had a good sense of the Northern Iowan, but never felt prepared or knowledgeable of the business and operations at the NI. 

I felt burnt out my first year, and when the application process came around again I hesitated applying. Even though I was hesitant, I applied — this was the best decision I ever made. I took the lessons that I learned my first year and implemented them in ways that could improve the newsroom. So many sections of the paper flourished, and our entire team continued to stay committed to reporting the news. 

Being executive editor is a huge privilege, and I am truly grateful and honored to have carried the torch these past two years through uncharted waters. 

To my entire staff: Thank you all for your contributions, ideas and conversations. You all truly made this the best experience for me. Y’all make me so proud and know I am hyping you up when I read each and everyone of your columns – especially the opinion section. I also can’t forget the social media and photography team y’all are just **Chefs kiss**.

Shout out to the team

To Mallory: I am grateful to have worked with you, I have learned so much from you. I will never forget our bonding in Minneapolis and conversations in improving the newsroom. I also will never forget our laughs and especially our Roblox connection.

To Sophie: I am excited for you and your new role as managing editor; you are taking the NI to a completely new level and I am so excited to see it. I also want to thank you for being honest and transparent with me through the toughest times. Your humor and energy is always appreciated through it all. 

To Emma: I can’t imagine leading this newsroom without you. Thank you for trust and honest conversations. Thank you for trying new things and being flexible in making our goals happen. Our entire staff truly appreciates your work and I am excited to see what is next! 

To David: This is not a goodbye. I will see you on Channel 7 at KWWL haha. David, you are just fantastic to work with. I will never forget reading for the first time “An emotional weekend in Dallas cheering for the Hawkeyes,” that was indeed the most emotional read I have ever had. 

To Lanie: From Mac n Cheese Goblin to social media manager, I appreciate the work you have done to improve our social media game from where it is at. Your expertise and knowledge took the NI to uncharted territory. 

To Diamond: You have truly pushed Campus Life into uncharted territory! Thank you for our deep talks and taking a huge initiative in bringing a variety to campus life.

To Karina: The Spanish column is in great hands. I am grateful for our time in working together and I will always appreciate you in taking the initiative to recruit. The future is bright.

To Chris and Anelia: Thank you so much for your mentorship and supporting me throughout my journey at the NI. Yall are the absolute greatest of all time and I can’t imagine working with anyone else.

To Caroline: I am truly excited for the new changes coming to the NI. You are going to take the NI to a whole different level and it’s time we see it. I look forward to seeing you take this above and beyond. 

Ready to Retire

It is time to put the editing hat to retirement and put my cap and gown on. Thank you everyone at UNI for the best experiences and t years of my life. I will be announcing what is next on my social media and LinkedIn — including a huge magazine drop, so make sure you stay in the loop!