By Chelsea LoCascio
Imagine a journalism major attending a college without a newspaper or any other media organizations. Unfortunately, that illogical hypothetical was my reality until I transferred to the College in the Spring 2014 semester. Without getting into the complexities of my past, I will say that the long journey to editor-in-chief of The Signal was hard, but worth it.
In the film “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” Harry says of his accomplishments, “It all sounds great when you say it like that. But the truth is most of that was just luck. I didn’t know what I was doing half the time, I nearly always had help.”
I’m not saying I’ve faced Harry Potter-level challenges, but what he’s saying is still applicable. College has been a series of confusing, frustrating and exhilarating experiences. I’ve always felt like I was thrown from one crazy experience to the next, and, luckily, I’ve almost always had help.
Before I completely part ways with the College and The Signal, I’d like to recognize some of the people — aside from the intelligent, inspiring and kind journalism professors — who helped me along the way.
When I served as production manager, alumnus Tom Kozlowski (’16) was editor-in-chief at the time. He surprised me both literally and figuratively. When he wasn’t sneaking up behind me — which, without fail, always ended in me screaming — he taught me that you don’t necessarily need to be a journalism major to be a great writer, editor and leader. He also taught me to watch my back.
When I was opinions editor, alumna Julie Kayzerman (’16) successfully piloted The Signal through challenging stories, including a breaking news story the day of production, which is a daunting additional responsibility on an already stressful day.
As an editor, she was tough, fair and honest, which I could not fully appreciate until I was put in a leadership role and learned that I wanted to mirror those qualities.
As I took on the role of news editor, alumna Colleen Murphy (’16) showed me how to look for the best in people, but remain objective when necessary. Perhaps most importantly, she made me realize that it’s essential to do your job, but you have to have fun while you do it.
This was especially true when sleep deprivation kicked in and she made me laugh by, say, seeing people walking around the lake outside of Forcina Hall at 6 a.m. and communicating what they were wearing through song and dance.
Honestly, I’d hang out longer in the newsroom, so we, along with Sydney Shaw, the managing editor at the time and a senior journalism major, could get breakfast at Eickhoff Hall in the morning. Somehow, I still wanted to joke around with them after spending more than 12 hours together.
More recently, though, I served as managing editor last semester under Shaw’s guidance. I learned a great deal from her on how to be a better writer and trust my gut. Luckily, she also taught me how to be a better friend.
While my personal experiences may not affect you, I think it’s important to look at the people who have come before you and learn from them. Before you know it, those people won’t be around and you’ll be left to your own devices to piece everything together using the wisdom they tried to impart on you.
Although no one is perfect, I did my best to instill some wisdom in The Signal’s staff for the Fall 2017 semester. As they transition from their old jobs to new — and me from editor-in-chief to a debt-ridden graduate living in a cardboard box — I have faith that they will continue to carry out quality, honest and thorough journalistic work, and learn some lessons along the way.