Established 1826 — Oldest College Newspaper West of the Alleghenies

Awkward first encounters and painful goodbyes

Lexi Whitehead, Sean Scott, Maggie Peña, Reece Hollowell, Luke Macy, Alice Momany.
Lexi Whitehead, Sean Scott, Maggie Peña, Reece Hollowell, Luke Macy, Alice Momany.

It’s my second semester at Miami University, and after writing a dozen stories for The Miami Student, I see the newsroom for the first time.

Over J-Term, I got promoted to be an assistant editor in a new section, Campus & Community, which means I get to go to production nights now. It sounds like a lot of responsibility, and I don’t know what to expect, but Tim and Briah assure me I’ll do fine.

Only five people are allowed in the newsroom at a time — COVID-19 rules — so each week The Student takes over the space outside the newsroom and the conference room next door so that everyone can be together. So I get to see the newsroom, but I don’t get to go in. Not yet.

I sit down, get some instructions from Abby and Madeline, two assistant editors I’m both impressed by and afraid of based on their friendship and their previous writing, and get to work.

Someone sits down next to me, but we don’t speak. I know her name is Cosette. I’ve seen her on Zoom meetings before, but we’ve never talked. I’d love to make a friend, but I don’t know how to break the silence. Finally, she does it for me, and we work together for the rest of the night.

It’s the first of many awkward experiences I wouldn’t have had without The Student. The first of many lifelong friendships I’ll cherish long after I forget those awkward beginnings.

Before The Student, I had no idea what I wanted to make of my life. Now, I know that I’m meant to be a journalist, even if the industry is a bit (a lot) scary sometimes.

And yet when I look back at my time at The Student, I won’t remember what I said in a review about “Blue Banisters” or who voted for what at a city council meeting. The embarrassing interviews and missed emails will fade into the background noise of the past, along with all the times I awkwardly stood outside events, too nervous to talk to attendees about their experiences.

Instead, I’ll remember the people.

I’ll remember running out of things to do at an early production and learning how to throw punches with Cosette through WikiHow while the “Important Editors” tried to put together a newspaper one room over.

I’ll remember meeting Maggie at Abby’s house one night, deciding she had to be my friend, and texting her the next morning to see if she wanted to write about “WandaVision” together.

I’ll remember countless nights at Lexi’s and Hannah’s house, carving pumpkins and learning how to play Kings. If Maggie ever asks to carve pumpkins with you, say no.

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And I’ll remember the fear I had when it was time for all of them to graduate, leaving me to run the paper alone with people my age, none of whom I knew as well.

I was so scared as I watched my best friends leave forever for Utah and Los Angeles and Chicago, scared that my senior year at TMS would be purely professional and that I’d waited too long to befriend the team that stayed back with me. Luckily, I was wrong.

I’m not sure how it happened, but I’ve become just as close to my friends this year as I was to the seniors last year. We see every movie together, play stupid games over Discord and worry about the future as a group. I don’t know where I’d be without them. Somewhere less happy than I am right now, for sure.

No one else but Luke, Devin and Reece could convince me that no, I’m not too good to play Fortnite. No one else would accept a text from me one day saying “Let me use your oven” and not ask questions, instead embarking on a wonderful journey together and documenting our inability to cook.

No one but Luke and Alice could commiserate with all the unique challenges that come with running a student publication, either. Our group chat stays active at all hours of the day.

And finally, after four years at TMS, I get to be just friends with my friends, not coworkers.

I’ll be sad to miss out on weekly pizza and late-night productions. I’ll miss all of the people staying behind, though we’ll still see each other around.

But I won’t have to miss Devin, Luke, Reece, Alice, Reagan, Macey and everyone else who I was so afraid I’d missed my shot to be friends with. We’re leaving together, and I’m so excited for what the future holds for all of us.