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A Vanguard education
A Vanguard education

John Wykoff, Jr., '02 didn't realize this year marks the 60th anniversary of the Vanguard, PSU's student run newspaper. But as far as he is concerned, the paper is "what kept me at PSU. I came to it by accident," he says.

A Lincoln High School graduate, Wykoff planned to pursue politics for a career and eventually go to an out-of-state school. But during winter term at Portland State, he took a news writing class and was recruited to join the Vanguard.

Wykoff worked his way up to editor-in-chief, which was "like a full-time job," he says. "I was doing four stories a week. I got to cover some really great stuff."

One highlight for him was when then-President Bill Clinton held an economic conference on campus, allowing the Vanguard reporters to rub shoulders with the White House press corps. Another was when he broke the story of a professor-student scandal that ended up making the national news, a pressure-filled experience.

"Most of my professors were excellent," Wykoff says, "but I got most of my education at the Vanguard." He also was appointed to the State Board of Higher Education as one of two student representatives.

Wykoff is from a newspaper family. His grandfather was an editor at The Oregonian and The Portland Reporter, and his father, John Wykoff, Sr., runs a public relations firm and also worked on the Vanguard in the late 1950s to mid-'60s.

"The Vanguard was my major interest at Portland State," says Wykoff, Sr., who served in several editorial positions. Of his son he adds, "I got quite a kick out of him being editor."

Wykoff, Jr., did end up in politics. Before and after completing his degree, he lobbied for the Oregon Student Association, becoming executive director. He now is education adviser in the Portland office of Rep. David Wu.

"I am not interested in being at the table," says Wykoff. "I want to be the guy at the back of the room who helped craft the deal."

By Cliff Collins