Friday morning my husband and I boarded a plane in Sheridan for a long weekend in Chicago. A couple years ago, I was chosen to participate in the Inland Press Association’s fellowship program. They pair you with a mentor and you get to attend three conferences each year to learn more about the industry and network with like-minded individuals.

This weekend is the last of the conference I will get to attend as a fellow. It’s been an amazing program and has only reinforced how important it is to have good mentors in your life. I’ve learned a lot not only from my “official” mentor, but also from the other fellows in the program. I’m so grateful for the experience.

My husband and I are heading out early — the conference doesn’t start until Sunday night — to enjoy some time with my parents and brother, all of whom live in Wisconsin. They will join us in Chicago for a fun weekend and a Cubs game (Go Cubs go!). Our dogs are in the caring hands of my father-in-law and I’m excited to network and bring some fun ideas back to Sheridan.

While in the city — in addition to eating deep dish pizza, Chicago style hot dogs and cheering on my favorite team in baseball — I’ll get to see my best friend from college. We met our first day of college at Northwestern University. She was a scholarship athlete for the softball team; I was trying to walk on to the team. We hit it off quickly and later became friends and roommates.

Well, she came to visit in July and we had a ball. We spent time at the lake; we went hiking; we hung out at the house and caught up on old times. She grew up in a rural area, so Sheridan feels pretty comfortable for her. 

Now, she’ll be moving to Sheridan and starting a new job at EMIT Technologies. She’s young — just the kind of professional Sheridan needs to keep recruiting. I’m happy she’ll be joining the mix. I love that the leadership at EMIT is willing to look at talented folks and bring them to the area. 

She has found a great place to rent, bought a car (because who needs one of those in a big city) and now is prepping for the big move. 

I’m already recruiting her to help coach fastpitch softball here in town. She was a rockstar third baseman for the Wildcats. 

So this weekend represents some bittersweet endings and beginnings. I’ll end my time as an Inland fellow.

My friend will soon end her time as a Chicago resident. But, I’ll look forward to introducing one of my best friends to the Wild West and she’ll look forward to new adventures.