I spent my first semester with The Sentinel designing for the opinion section, learning the ropes, and getting to know the rest of the amazingly talented and welcoming staff. I worked closely with the opinion editor at the time, Brittany Maher. She and I clicked right off the bat, and our teamwork started to show in the unique personality the opinion section began to take on. Here we are four semesters and 53 issues of The Sentinel later, and Brittany and I’s initial teamwork has turned into a fantastic marriage of creative collaboration. She took over as Editor-In-Chief, and I was promoted to Production Manager, the position that I admired so much my first day in the newsroom. As the two leaders of this organization, we took our positions to heart and employed a fearless mentality. We didn’t hesitate to bring fresh perspectives, better writing techniques, and new design elements to the paper. We took it and ran with it, not sure of where it’d end up.
It was about a year ago this time that Brittany and I began to discuss the new ideas we wanted to implement for the next semesters. We emphasized teamwork and staff meetings. We made bringing together the people who work to make this publication a priority and took everyone’s ideas into consideration. One of the first things I wanted to change when I took on this leadership position was to make our online edition full color. Majority of the pages print in black and white, and the online version looked the same as the print one. I brought in a new system for the designers and added a new color to our style guide, which doesn’t seem like much, but it took our publication to a new level. Brittany and I also made a point to plan more special covers that would stand out to students on a visual level. We strategized new ways to catch people’s attention and increase our readership. It worked, as we now have a higher pickup rate than ever. It wasn’t easy, and it definitely took the effort and caring work of our entire team to give The Sentinel the audience we feel it deserves. I’m incredibly proud of the momentum and motivation Brittany and I were able to bring to the staff. We’ve seen so many positive changes, and looking back it amazes me how much we’ve accomplished as a staff in just a year.
I’ve worked with so many talented people that have come through the newsroom in the past two years. Each of them, from the photo editor to the marketing assistants and the people working in other branches of student media have impacted my career in such a wonderful way. I’m so thankful for all of the heated debates about pop culture, never-ending Facebook chats, memorable trips and adventures, and late night problem solving sessions I’ve had with each of them. It is so rare to be a part of such a dedicated team, let alone lead it. I hope future leaders in student media and every KSU student organization will continue Brittany and I’s legacy of emphasizing teamwork and inclusion, because only then can the full potential of The Sentinel be discovered.
I’m so thankful for my time in the student media environment. Our adviser, Ed Bonza, has been such a reliable source of advice, laughter and comfort. He has always kept his window open to us when we needed words of reassurance and encouragement. As students, it is almost inevitable that we would make mistakes at some point. But Ed has an amazing patience and while we never intentionally test it, there have certainly been times where he provided an immense level of understanding. He is the type of boss that would never push you past your comfort level, but rather inspires you to hold your work to a higher standard. Even though my time in the newsroom is over, the life lessons, advice, jokes and wonderful conversations with Ed will always stay with me.
When I started at KSU five years ago as an unsure yet determined freshman, I was completely blind to the field of communication and media. I never would have thought I would find my college experience in a newsroom, but now I know it was the best place for me to be. This experience has filled my heart with stories and friendships that go far beyond the experience I describe on my resume. For all of you that find yourselves wanting more out of your college experience, I urge you to find your outlet and become involved in a student organization. Take a chance on yourself, become involved, and encourage others to do so as well. In the words of the famous Babe Ruth, "Don't let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game."
It blows me away how capable a group of students can be. Plenty of people may underestimate us, but we know that through student media we have the power to sway opinion, inform student publics, bend emotion and bring together a community of owls. Thank you, Student Media, for giving me the opportunity to share my work with this incredible campus.