A changing paper, an enduring impact.

By Christine Siefers, Vantage Editor '89-'90

Twenty-nine years ago I was editor of the Vantage. Yes, almost a decade before any of the current Vantage staffers were born and likely before they were even a twinkle in their parents’ eyes. In some respects it seems like yesterday and in others like it was a lifetime ago. Newman University was Kansas Newman College back then. Whenever I had to mail something to my parents, the return address always read “Me, KNC, 67203” because I’m clever like that. The Postmaster probably didn’t approve then and most assuredly would not approve now. It was all the way back when McCormick Avenue ran between DeMattias (the old, dilapidated gym) and Sacred Heart. During a period of time in the university’s history when there was no men’s basketball program and the Merlini parking lot was not paved. Not quite the Stone Ages, but definitely a different landscape than Newman today.

I have so many fond memories of my time as a Newman student, but one of the best experiences of my college career was being on the Vantage staff and serving as its editor. I ended up working for my current employer as a result of my knowledge of the computer system used for the Vantage and my campus typesetting job. More on that later.

My first two years at Newman I was part of the Vantage staff under editors Tina (Mesa) Walterscheid and then Jackie (Meyer) Cleary. I admired them both a lot and marveled at how they approached their tasks and seemed to execute them with ease. Elaine Schmeidler, current Newman staffer, was one of my Vantage colleagues. When I was asked to be the editor my junior year, I didn’t have to think too hard. It was an honor and a privilege then and it still is today to be on that prestigious list of Vantage editors.

I was guided in my editorship by adviser Jeanne Cardenas who provided structure, advice, and constructive criticism as much as she brought moments of hilarity and her soothing demeanor to calm us as we got through the writing, editing, and laying out process of producing the newspaper each week. I visited her not long before she died a few years ago and we drank some wine and enjoyed catching up. I am sorry she is not on this earth anymore.

I had the best assistant editor in Debbie (Chance) Doonan and the most awesome photographer and photo editor in Renee (Knoeber) Fernandes. Time spent with these ladies was always memorable; we worked well together and accomplished a lot. Each Tuesday we would edit the stories submitted and then print them on actual paper (gasp!) using the old proprietary black and green Mycro-Tek computers that looked like someone had purchased them directly from a Ukrainian Army Surplus store. We pounded on those VDT-on line and execute keys repeatedly. After printing the stories, we’d manually “paste-up” the stories on the pages. Using that hot wax machine was a highlight of my college career. Once the pages were finished, we’d put them carefully into a large black zippered pouch which I would take with me and retire to my room in Merlini, the only inhabited campus dorm at the time. I was sad to read in the Vantage about its closure for this academic year.

On Wednesday mornings I drove the black pouch in my green 1978 Ford Pinto (be very jealous, the seats were green and yellow plaid) to Valley Offset Printing in Valley Center. I waited while they made plates, fired up the press, and I watched as the issue streamed off the line. One of the guys usually gave me a copy hot off the press to look at while they completed the job. By far, that was my favorite part of the week. I still love the smell of ink and the sound of a printing press. The bundles were loaded into my car (that hatchback did come in handy) and I drove back to Newman and distributed them around campus.

After I received my degree, a B.A. in Communications with a concentration in Journalism and minors in Speech and English, I went to work as the reporter at the Goodland Daily News in far western Kansas and in a different time zone, making a whopping $10,800 annual salary. After a year in Goodland getting some experience by covering everything from the local school board and the Kanorado city council (I was chosen to judge their Christmas light contest that year) to the county fair (a story subject once gave me directions to her rural home by saying “Go north of town on the highway 20 miles and then turn right at the tree”), I decided to move back to Wichita where trees are not so sparse.

In the summer of 1992 as I was wrapping up that year in Goodland, I interviewed for a job at Mycro-Tek, a company in the business of developing computer systems for newspapers. One of the reasons I was hired for a job there as a systems trainer was because of my experience on the M-T system at Newman. For the next six months, I traveled all over the country training newspaper employees how to use the software. Then, the company went bankrupt and I was out of a job. I won’t bore you with the complete timeline of my working career, but I am now back working at a company who ultimately ended up with the assets of Mycro-Tek, called Brainworks Software. Still today, I work with some of the same people who worked at M-T when I started in August of 1992. Altogether, I traveled heavily for about five years of my career. I’ve been to England, Amsterdam, Canada, and all over the United States. I’ve been a trainer and provided support as well as conducted demos of our software to prospective customers. Now I manage the customer support for the advertising facet of our software. Like Newman’s landscape, the software has changed a lot over the years. Proprietary systems are long gone and the cloud is where it’s at these days.

For someone who intended to be a high school newspaper and yearbook adviser when she went off to college, I landed somewhere else. Luckily, I learned pretty early in my college courses that I wasn’t cut out to be a teacher in a classroom. But teaching adults how to use the software they have to make their jobs easier has been the right fit for me. One could argue that it’s still teaching but in a different arena. Or maybe I took some wrong turns? I don’t think so. I think I’m right where I’m supposed to be and I chalk it up to my Vantage experience and a lot of divine intervention.

PHOTO: CHRISTINE SIEFERS stands in front of Merlini Hall, the only residence hall students were living in at the time. Courtesy Photo, Chris Siefers.

This article was apart of our 50th anniversary issue where we used similar formatting to an issue from 1973.  To see the full issue, formatting included, click here.