Farewell, ECC

Editor-in-Chief Dominic Di Palermo gives his goodbye to ECC before transferring to Western Kentucky University

Dominic Di Palermo, Editor-in-Chief

I walked into a dimly lit building A on an overcast August morning in the Fall of 2021. The hallways were barren for the first Monday of classes. It wasn’t even necessary for me to be at ECC, but I figured physically being in a school environment would kick my mind into gear.

Three months prior, I had graduated from St. Charles East High School where I had spent three years as the school photojournalist for the newspaper and yearbook. The COVID-19 pandemic had hindered my job for two semesters, but despite being an online student, I still showed up to school to cover events.

It wasn’t my first choice to attend ECC, but the pandemic caused a rupture in my academic momentum during my junior and senior years of high school. I was set on majoring in photojournalism but couldn’t decide on a school, and I wasn’t ready to leave home.

My first experience with ECC was the introduction to Observer adviser Nick Obradovich (whom I would soon consider a friend) and staff photographer Lance Lagoni, who mentored me in photojournalism. At the introduction, I was offered my first assignment that kicked off my college photojournalism career.

The first day of school as I walked through the dimly lit building, I found a place to login into the Observer’s online newsroom on Zoom. The concept wasn’t foreign to me as I had finished my last year and half of school on Zoom.

As our first semester progressed, I was promoted from staff photographer to Photo and Social Media Editor. I covered a variety of events including ECC sports, guest speakers, Student Life activities and COVID-19 coverage.

As the pandemic began its end, I had met more and more Observer staff at different events and in our physical newsroom in the Student Life office. My final and favorite story of my first fall semester was photographing portraits for a feature story written by then Editor-in-Chief Shelby Taylor.

I ended the first semester with a large portfolio of college, along with a new understanding of my field, and strong relationships with Observer staff. I was also going to be assuming the position of Editor-in-Chief.

Because I had little experience in journalistic writing and editing, Nick and Shelby trained me through winter break and the spring semester on how succeed at my new role.

With more formal training, I began the semester writing a story on ECC’s men’s basketball team. I had a unique experience as an Editor-in-Chief, as I was learning more about writing at the same time as the new and returning staff writers and photographers.

The experience of learning and leading at the same time proved challenging but it further developed my skills as a journalist, photojournalist and as a leader.

Outside of the Observer, I began my first photography class at ECC, Studio and Location Lighting with Travis Linville. This experience proved helpful in developing new skills that I applied to my  freelance photography business.

This class also introduced me to others in the art department like Director of Art and Design Juan Fernandez. Juan and Travis aided my journey as a photographer through critical feedback and advice.

Soon into the semester, Juan offered me a job at the ECC art gallery where I was inspired by talented artists of different artistic disciplines that happened to be my co-workers.

After the spring semester ended, I continued to pursue my field through an internship with Shaw Local News Network. The summer provided a great learning experience. My internship was paired with an independent study in photojournalism with Nick.

Interning with a professional news outlet helped me gain experience that translated to the Observer. Not only did I have a greater portfolio of various assignments, but I learned a lot about crafting better photos and writing better cutlines.  Working with Photo Editor Sandy Bressner taught me how to be a better editor.

Covering events around Kane County all summer inspired me to encourage the Observer staff to pursue stories in our community that remained relevant to our audience.

Fall semester 2022 proved again that the Observer attracts hard working, friendly staff members. The best moments of the semester was with our staff in the newsroom or on the trip to Washington D.C for the Associated Collegiate Press conference.

In D.C., we spent four days invested in our craft, waltzing around our nation’s capital and building relationships together. At the conferences, I learned from my favorite photojournalist Al Drago, met new friends and competed in a photography contest.

The following semester the some of the Observer staff attended another ACP conference in San Francisco where we again walked a lot, learned and grew closer. The two most memorable moments from that trip were getting my portfolio reviewed by Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Kim Komenich and offering Photo Editor Matt Brady the position of Editor-in-Chief for next semester.

As the Spring 2023 semester wraps up, I’ve been looking back on my time in the Observer and I’m grateful for every experience I’ve had. I’ve learned a lot from this great group of people. The whole staff has grown tremendously from their beginnings as journalists and I’m excited to keep in touch and see what they do as I move on.

Thank You

I’m thankful to God and my family for leading me to ECC as I’ve met many wonderful people that I’ve shared amazing experiences with. While I’d like to extend my gratitude to every family member, friend, club, professor and ECC staff member that contributed to this fruitful journey, I’ll keep it brief.

I’d specifically like to thank Nick Obradovich, the whole Observer staff, Photo Editor Matt Brady, Managing Editor Hannah Soukup, Lance Lagoni, Shelby Taylor, Gwen Sihanath, Sports Information Director Melanie Schaefer Photography Professor Travis Linville and Director of Art and Design Juan Fernandez.


Finally I want to pass the torch as Editor-in-Chief to Photo Editor Matt Brady. Matt is diligent, always willing to learn, and overall, a great guy. I’m confident in his success as editor and I look forward to seeing what he does in his future.

As I come to the end of this farewell, I want to express my gratitude for ECC and the Observer. Next semester I’m transferring to Western Kentucky University to major in photojournalism. I plan on using this degree to pursue a career as a professional photojournalist. I will always remember my experience at ECC and look forward to using to the knowledge I’ve gained from it in the next phases of my life.