Four years ago, I was a high school senior with no clue what the next few years would look like. I applied to 11 schools and dragged my very patient parents on a new campus tour practically every weekend.
Everyone kept telling me that, one day, I’d step foot on a campus and it would just feel like home to me. The decision deadline was looming closer, and I was panicking because I still hadn’t found that perfect fit.
That all changed when I attended Montclair State University’s Accepted Students Day and had the opportunity to speak to students in the journalism program.
Until then, every college student I had interacted with sounded like they were reading a script in an attempt to sell students on their school. Heather Berzak and Sunah Choudhry were authentic, welcoming and totally different from any other students I had met. They are ultimately one of the main reasons why I chose Montclair State.
Berzak spoke very highly of The Montclarion, so I jumped at the opportunity to join.
I still remember the first article I wrote on the Clove Road Bridge opening, even though I cringe when I look at it now.
From there, I continued writing and found my home in the news section. I thank Heather, then-News-Editor Adrianna Caraballo and all of the other editors from that e-board who cheered me on and pushed me to become a better journalist.
Things changed when the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit. Instead of covering campus news, I was writing articles about members of the campus community who had passed away from COVID-19.
It was tough writing those. I felt like I had lost that sense of belonging I was so grateful for.
I was promoted to Assistant News Editor during my sophomore year. Even though I was still at home taking classes from my bedroom, I started to feel like I was a part of something again.
I owe a lot of this to my former boss and current friend, Rosaria Lo Presti. I will always remember our “business” zooms where we talked about work for roughly 10 minutes and gossiped for about an hour. Thank you for taking me under your wing. I am so grateful for your guidance and friendship.
Rosaria graduated at the end of that year, which meant it was time for me to take on a new role: News Editor. I was excited because I had been working toward this position for a long time, but I was also nervous. We were finally returning in person, and I didn’t know most of the people on the staff.
The first production day was awkward and chaotic.
Looking back, that first paper is not something I would show a future employer, but I remember being incredibly proud of it at the time. As time went by, we got better at layouts and I grew closer and closer with the e-board.
They were accepting, kind, hilarious, crazy and talented. From “Corey-oke” to parties in The Village, we always had fun together. I’m grateful to have known every single one of them, and anyone from that year’s staff can confirm that I cried about a dozen times when the seniors graduated.
My senior year, I stepped into another new role: Managing Editor. I worried about bonding with all of the new editors and establishing a new group dynamic.
Now, looking back, I find it so crazy that I was worried about that because this group is dedicated and motivated, but also really connected and fun. I’ve never had a dull moment on our production days, and I’m so glad we became one big family.
I’ll cherish the memories we made forever, like our Secret Santa, our trip to the College Media Convention in D.C. and the time we went viral on TikTok for “spinning the Pope.”
I want to thank Emma Caughlan for being the Editor-in-Chief to my Managing Editor. You’re so talented and I am so lucky I got to lead this organization with you. I’m a little biased but I think we’re the best leadership duo The Montclarion has ever had. From Multimedia Toolkit to now, I’m so happy to have you by my side.
To my two assistants turned into News Editors, Jennifer Portorreal and Erin Lawlor, I am so proud of all you have accomplished. You will forever be my News Girls.
Megan Lim, I don’t even know where to start thanking you. Thanks for being my best friend on the staff. You always hype me up and make me smile. Maybe it’s time for me to change your contact name on my phone to something other than “Megan From Toolkit” or maybe I’ll keep it for the memories.
To the rest of the staff, I wish I could thank every one of you by name but then this would be a textbook. Just know that I love every single one of you and that you’re all like family to me.
Thank you to our advisor, Professor Tara George, who has practically become my life coach at this point. I am eternally grateful for every opportunity you have given me and all of the knowledge you have instilled in me. I will miss calling you every time I have a problem or question, even though I’ll probably keep doing it anyway.
When I told one of my friends about the 11 schools I applied to, she told me that she couldn’t even imagine me being anywhere else, and I really can’t either.
Montclair State became my home away from home, and I will miss everything from walking around campus to unexpectedly bumping into Rocky or Pebbles to the piña colada smoothies in the business school, but the things I will miss the most are this incredible organization that I am so proud to be a part of and all of the friends I’ve made along the way.