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Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

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Column: Farewell to The Knox Student

Column%3A+Farewell+to+The+Knox+Student

The subject line that changed the course of my Knox experience simply read “Sports Editor?” The last sports editor transferred schools and with a month to go until school started, I was the most logical choice to fill that void on the school paper/magazine. I had gotten a taste of writing as a contributing writer the previous year. Now, I controlled the sports section.

 I became terrified when it was time to convene on campus to start work on the paper’s/magazine’s orientation issue. While the layout process was routine for most of the staff, I was completely new to the experience. I wanted to pull my weight.

The first few weeks were a crash course in editor 101. With the previous editor leaving abruptly, I learned all of an editor’s duties on the job. After each publishing night I felt drained, but I had to get ready for the next week. Being the newest member of the staff, I felt I had something to prove. I wanted every piece that I wrote to be perfect. I was the youngest, least-experienced staff member, but I wanted to prove that I was worthy enough to be the sports editor.

Ultimately, that drive to be perfect is what proved to be my downfall. I love reading articles at all times of the day and observing how other writers take a particular approach to write their stories. Now, seeing a great story motivates me. But back then, each story that I read took a chunk out of my confidence. Writing a great story seemed unattainable during my sophomore year.

Soon, self-doubt crept into my head about whether or not I could make it in the journalism field. Comparison is the thief of joy, as they like to say. I’m reading other students my age craft these engaging, thoughtful pieces and wondering, ‘am I good enough?’” The pressure of being one of two sportswriters and trying to manage my time on the paper and schoolwork was taking its toll. I was going to quit The Knox Student and explore a new career path.

Journalism wasn’t established as a major at Knox until 2021 – with one professor teaching the majority of the core journalism courses. Most of my favorite journalists attended Missouri, Arizona State University, Northwestern, Syracuse, etc. In my eyes, if you didn’t attend one of those schools or at least a Division-1 program, the chances of making it in this field were slim.

K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago assured me that my line of thinking was incorrect, as he graduated from Beloit College, a small liberal arts college in Wisconsin. But it was hard for me to understand where he was coming from. He’s a great friend and mentor, but he’s also one of the most respected journalists in the business. I knew he was right that there’s more than one way of entry, but it’s hard to allow the words to seep through when they’re coming from a legend with decades of experience.

It’s November 2019, and I’m still going in the thick of the malaise. I had become a negative, self-deprecating individual, a far cry from my daily personality. My confidence as a writer was at an all-time low. My passion caused me the the greatest agony. I just felt stuck. Nothing I wrote met the standard I had for myself, so I threw a hail mary to escape that place: I messaged one of my favorite writers, Mirin Fader.

To my surprise, she responded and offered to talk on the phone about the industry. I still have the notebook from my sophomore year in which I wrote notes from our conversation. The main lesson I took away from our conversation: focus on the writing and always be curious. She put the battery pack in my back that I desperately needed at the time.

I stopped worrying about things that I couldn’t control and instead focused that energy on becoming the best writer I could be. I grew to appreciate other people’s work without getting a sense of jealousy. If I read a great story online or from a  Knox Student colleague, I wanted to top it. It was a healthy competition rooted in my desire to better at least one aspect of my writing with each published article.

I took joy in interviewing the student-athletes and coaches on Knox’s campus. I loved discovering stories to write about. The Knox Student gave me a platform to work on my craft and find my voice.

I’m grateful for having the opportunity to serve as the sports editor – the lone Black editor – for three years. I’m going to miss those long, arduous publishing nights at Knox. Everything I learned about journalism came from working for The Knox Student. I’m grateful for working with some great Editors-in-Chief and staff writers over the years. I wouldn’t be the writer that I am today without the tutelage of Erika Riley, Sadie Cheney, Carlos Flores-Gaytan, and Connor Wood.

But as I embark on the next stage of my journey, I implore Knox to improve the journalism department for future students. The college needs to pour resources into the program if it wishes to have it as a major. There is no excuse for there to be one professor in the entire department for the duration of an entire school year.

The major shouldn’t exist as a vehicle to drum up dwindling enrollment numbers or a way for administration to pat themselves on the back in an article written for the website.I hope to look back in 15 years and see a healthy, fully functioning journalism department. I want it to be a major that holds weight at this institution and not just a major for the sake of having a journalism major.

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