She is not afraid to tackle controversial issues. She reports them well and represents good, solid journalism in South Texas. You don’t have to take my word for it; I lifted those comments from the judges who have chosen Kimberly Rubio’s work for no fewer than nine first-, second-, and third-place awards in state and regional journalism contests over the past four years.
Sometimes breakups come out of the blue. That’s what this feels like. When Rubio approached me about a month ago, she lobbed the dreaded words most of us have probably heard at some point: “Can we talk?” I stumbled backward into my seat, because – if you know Rubio – talking is one of her favorite activities, second to eating. She never waits for an invitation.
“I have decided to go back to school.”
I sat there, trying to process why she seemed so serious, accepting that we would probably need to adjust her lunch hour but she – hopefully – would still be able to cover the county and city meetings, as usual.
I feel like I nodded, maybe smiled encouragingly. It was almost 5 p.m. on Friday, when most of us are a little dizzy after putting the coming Sunday’s edition together. At first, I did not realize she had waited until the last minute before a two-day break from me to say she was severing the office partnership we’ve nearly perfected over seven years.
What happened to not being afraid to tackle controversial issues?!
It wasn’t until she said, “This conversation is going better than I expected” that I realized there was more to the story. I don’t remember exactly what else was said, although she managed to convey she was resigning as assistant editor.
I also remember telling her – nicely, I hope – I would be happy for her in a few days but, for that moment, she was free to leave. It wasn’t my best moment, but remember: her work represents good, solid journalism in South Texas. That’s a lofty descriptor.
When Leader-News publisher Craig Garnett found me red-eyed and sniffling in my office about 15 minutes later, he knew he was right to have told Rubio a few hours earlier to wait until Sunday’s edition was complete to give me her news.
We are losing a gem.
Southwest Texas Junior College, on the other hand, will benefit from our loss by gaining a student who loves to learn. She will undoubtedly be a star alumna one day.
Rubio is excited to pursue the education she put on hold years ago, when she was uncertain about future career plans. Our boss, used to seeing Rubio’s stacks of read and to-be-read books piled alongside the front desk during her 2.5 years as Leader-News receptionist, had a feeling she would make a great writer. He was right, of course, and now we will wait to see what else she wants to conquer in life.
Meghann Garcia is managing editor of the Uvalde Leader-News and co-president of the Kimberly Rubio fan club.