I never would have expected to feel so attached to a cramped basement office with no windows, lime green walls and just about the dirtiest floor you’ve ever seen. Yet when I exit its large wooden doors at the end of this production night, I know it’s going to hurt. Hurt like a huge chunk of you is being ripped out and left behind; hurt like losing a close friend; hurt like the moment you realize nothing will ever be the same again. That’s what happens when you fall in love with every part of what you do, and have to leave it as the present becomes the past.
I’m not sure when it happened. My first experience with this room was one of intimidation and amazement at the same time. “This is where it all happens,” I thought, a wide-eyed freshman journalism major eager to embark on the world of college journalism. While a staff writer, though, I mostly stayed away from this place, dealing with my editors over the phone or through e-mail.
As Fact Checker, I got a continuous weekly dose of this room, but it didn’t mean much to me at the time. I came in, did my work and left. That was it.
It was probably during my year as Copy Editor when my love was born. It must have been; I decided to go beyond my required duties and stay until the paper was done every production night to check all the pages one last time before they were sent to print. I didn’t have to, but I wanted to; I must have been crazy, but as the saying goes – aren’t we all fools in love?
And so it went; every production night we all would complain at how late it was and how much we wanted to be home in our beds. And while I know we really did feel that way, I’m also sure I will wish at least a thousand times in my lifetime that I could go back to those nights. Nights of storyboarding, paginating, copyediting, yes – but also nights of laughter and tears, arguments, frustration and excitement over the fruit of our labor – our beloved Signal.
I come away from this unforgettable experience realizing I’m not so sad to leave this room, but what happened within it. There’s something so amazing about coming together to create a product with a group of diverse people and personalities with a shared passion. It is because of those people and what we’ve made that I find myself walking away from one of the most fulfilling experiences of my journalistic career, before I’ve even graduated. I can only hope other students have been an active part of something they’ve loved as deeply as I, and from which they’ve learned half as much – those are the makings of a true college education. With it, I know I’m ready for whatever comes next.
Sometimes people make things happen, but sometimes things happen to people. For most of my life, I’ve let things happen to me. I’ve gone along with things and accepted whatever it was that came out.
And that’s exactly how I joined the Signal staff. Sure I’d thought about running for a position, but thinking about something and actually doing it are two completely different things. Lucky for me, though, I was asked to be the Features Assistant last fall. Go ahead, laugh, but I have never been the same.
Signal happened to me. I know that sentence doesn’t make sense, but that’s what happened. Somehow all of a sudden I realized I couldn’t wait around for things to come to me. Maybe it was the new sense of responsibility or the fact that I was actually starting to work toward what I hope will be a successful career as a journalist. Maybe it was just something that was bound to happen. No matter what the reason was, I’d like to say thank you, Signal.
But I have to do more than thank the newspaper; I have to thank the people who make the newspaper happen.
Christine, Teresa and Kristina – You left me some big shoes to fill, but more importantly, you taught me to love features. I will proudly call myself a features ho for life.
Paige and Becky – I couldn’t have asked for better assistants, but more importantly, better writers. Paige, keep the Features pride alive!
Katelyn and Donna – I will miss battling out with you for the most popular stories. I will miss spending 12+ hours with you every Monday even more though. Way to pass on the cutout love to Bryan.
Audrey – Two words: Fentertainment pride! I don’t think anyone else would have put up with that and mascot Aidan, so thank you.
Matt and Tim – I hope you don’t hate me because you guys make me laugh.
John – Stop pretending you don’t know me!
Eve – My pictures are always beautiful. Features is nothing without beautiful pictures, so thank you.
Sarah and Candida – Our articles would look scary without you two. Thanks for making us look good.
Ashley Marty – Remember how sweet and quiet we were when we met at that SGA meeting freshman year? What happened?
Matt and Kelly – Husband and Pepe, you guys have done an amazing job this semester. I remember thinking that you guys would eventually be in charge when I met you in Athens class . I’m glad I was right.
To all my family and friends – Thank you for always reading my stories and pretending that you were actually interested in them. Most of all, though, thanks for believing in me.