I came to Big Rapids in 2014.

I remember riding with my parents, taking a right off of Exit 139, and feeling my heart pounding as a we entered this town I'd not yet known.

"Here's to the next four years of your life," I thought to myself.

Little did I know.

Fast forward to 2018, I can tell how long the traffic lights are, when the busiest times are at McDonald's, I found a routine to my day, and I had one more year to go before I hit the world running. And I was ready.

Little did I know my new "not yet known" would feel incredibly familiar after I turned my tassel.

July 2019

I landed my first "adult job," and I was eager to show the world what I had. I jumped out of my nest I'd developed over time, and fell right back into the heart of Big Rapids — for the Pioneer and Herald Review.

I don't know about you guys, but I'm the type of person who believes in the timing of it all. And while I imagined my first job in Grand Rapids or somewhere farther away, I believe Big Rapids was not yet done with me, and to be honest, I wasn't quite done with it either.

Now, coming up on almost seven years with this city, I feel it's time to say goodbye.

Over the past six years, Big Rapids has become my home away from home. I've accomplished things I never thought I would, found my passion, and met incredible people I won't soon forget.

Diving into a new career, from a Lifestyles Editor to a City/County Reporter, I wasn't entirely sure it would fit. It seems only right that I sit here now, thinking of everything I'm going to miss.

I'll miss my coworkers who I could turn to when I had a problem or a bad day and we would find a way to laugh and support one another.

I'll miss attending the local city/county commissioner meetings and learning the in's and out's of a town I'd grown to love, relaying that information to others who didn't have the opportunity to learn about the city's upcoming projects or big news.

I'll miss highlighting the local nonprofit organizations like Manna Pantry or Our Brothers Keeper, helping to use my voice to raise awareness to important causes.

I'll miss personalizing the stories of local residents who spent their free time building shelters for homeless cats, or falling in love at 80 and 90 years old.

But most of all, I'll miss the people I've met along the way.

Spending almost seven years attached to Big Rapids, I've met classmates who've become good friends, professors who have shaped my future, and residents who made me feel like I belonged in the city I'd not yet known. And for that, I am forever grateful.

Who knows what's in store next, I sure don't as I tie up my laces and get ready to hit the world once more. But I will tell you one thing — I'm not sure Big Rapids will ever truly be in my rearview mirror.

So, for now, I'll say thank you to all who have made me feel welcome as I figured out who I was. It's been a great run.

Until we meet again,

Alicia Jaimes

Herald Review Reporter