My first frame of reference of college journalism was “Gilmore Girls.” I imagined myself zipping around a newsroom the same way Rory did, calling out pitches and writing interesting stories about campus. Less than a month after I arrived at UCR, I put my fantasy in motion by marching into The Highlander newspaper office. Even during my first few months as a writer, the paper managed to incite in me a flurry of emotions: nervousness, excitement, annoyance (ever write a great paragraph only for it to get cut?), but most of all, fulfillment. It was thrilling to create something every week and see it come to life in print. I knew I wanted to stay involved while I was at UCR.
I was hired as copy editor during spring quarter 一 a year that did not begin or end in the most pleasant of ways. It was bookended by discomfort; first, by the awkwardness and hesitance of being one of the few new editors in a room full of seasoned male editors and at the end, by having my year as copy editor cut short before I was ready to say goodbye.
But the bulk of that year was rewarding and fun. Then-editor-in-chief, Jonathan Fernandez, was the first to make me feel at ease with his constant jokes. Evan Ismail, the managing editor, made me feel similarly comfortable in my new role by providing some guidance and assuring me of the importance of my role 一 I soon felt comfortable voicing my opinion during Sunday production.
At risk of this last article sounding like an Oscars speech, there are many bright, funny and intelligent people I came across in the newsroom that made the work feel vibrant and powerful. Amani Mahmoud’s work ethic and empathy, Christine Tran’s gift for Features, Samuel Harrison’s ability to choose the best adjectives: working with the 2019-20 senior staff was an opportunity that I’ll always look back on fondly. Moreso, every single editor in the office made the office feel like home.
Although the work wasn’t always flashy or challenging, working with such talented people made it feel worthwhile even when I was stressed or disillusioned. As managing editor, I was in charge of communicating and assisting our staff; their bright-eyed interest gave me the push I needed to stay connected to the paper in a time of my life that felt disenchanting and difficult and globally devastating. I felt like a proud mom to see Madison Rheins, the opinions editor, Kevin Contreras, the assistant sports editor and the rest of the editorial board grow as writers and editors.
When I first started as a contributing writer, it was flattering to receive intelligent, challenging feedback on my work and get an approving comment from an editor. Now that I am one of the most seasoned staff members, I hope I made my successors feel appreciated in the same way.
Unlike Rory Gilmore, my time working for a college newsroom was not a solitary endeavor. It was a time filled with laughs, Little Caesars pizza, collaboration and a shared love and mission for storytelling. It wasn’t as conventional or pretty as journalism on the silver screen —it was better, because it was filled with moments of bonding, fulfillment and potential. Even after I graduate, my time at The Highlander will leave a mark on my heart and on my writing.