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Make Sure You Print When I’m Gone

by Alex Pavljuk

The first story I ever wrote for the Montclarion was in 2020 for the opinion section, so I suppose it is fitting that my last proper article for publication in this great collegiate paper is for that same section.

It was a story titled, “Just Happy to Be Here” and it reflected on the student perspective of a freshman experiencing college amidst the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic’s pre-vaccination experience. The story expressed the notion that, as freshmen during that time, we had no lived experience of what college was or should be. Just being here on campus, finally getting to do something that was promised way back when I applied all those months earlier when the world was normal, felt like a win.

Maybe I was trying to speak for the whole lot of us at the time, but I know, at least for me and my small circle of friends who found a home here amidst the chaos and uncertainty, were happy to be here.

I am still happy to be here, and although ready for the homework to stop, I know that too means the life I have become accustomed to as an undergraduate also ends. It is weird thinking that as college finally started to look and feel like what it did on my first tour of Montclair State University in 2019, I am now getting ready to pack up and go.

I think about that first tour of campus a lot nowadays.

During that time Cole Hall was amidst massive renovations, the diner was still 24 hours, Cafe Diem was an actual cafe, and the Montclarion, with its old red heading, was stacked tall in every newsstand across campus.

I am not sure where it is now, or if it even made it home with me that day, but I remember how amazing it felt to pick up that paper and see writers who had the privilege to have their names in print week to week for the campus to read.

As someone who found a love for writing a young age and wanted nothing more to be taken, at least somewhat, seriously as a writer thought that was the coolest thing ever.

I never cared much about journalism at that time though, but when my high school during my senior year decided to start a newspaper club I got roped in. I found a side to my writing I did not know I would like, let alone be half-decent at. So when I finally made it here to Montclair State, pandemic and all, the first and only club I looked to join was The Montclarion all because I picked up that paper on my college tour.

But my first story was not in print. COVID-19 kept the paper out of the new stands my first year, and after that first digital publication I was diagnosed with testicular cancer and recovery took my attention away from anything aside from getting better.

When I finally got back into the swing of things my sophomore year and picked up that first print paper since my college tour, by that point nearly three years earlier, I felt like I was missing out.

Fortunately for me, around the time I decided to show back up at our general body meetings, the paper had begun re-developing a long-forgotten fiction, poetry and arts section and that was where I found my voice.

For a whole semester, I was the only consistent writer for the fiction section of the Montclarion, which at the time was a second thought of the opinion section.

Knowing that the Montclarion was my chance to have my creative work published in a tangible way for others to pick up and read every week in print kept me going. There was no better feeling than grabbing the paper off the newsstand and finding a story with your name in the byline.

When the opportunity came from our former editor-in-chief, Emma Caughlan, for me to take on the section in a more formal role as the first dedicated editor of fiction at the Montclarion, I jumped at the opportunity.

I have done a lot at the Montclarion. I have written for opinion, entertainment and feature. Somehow I even won an award for news. Seriously! Me, the director of fiction, won an award for news writing. Who botched that one?

Regardless of all of this, from my first story in 2020, to now my last, the most pride I have in nearly anything I’ve accomplished in my time at both Montclair State University and as an editor for the Montclarion was the chance to give others fiction writers, poets, photographers and artists the chance to have a platform to share their work in a physical medium for others to pick up and read.

It was the greatest honor of my four years of college to curate this section in print, and something that, despite the loss of it this past semester, must and will come back. The writers deserve it, the editors deserve it and the student body deserves it.

Thank you to Emma Caughlan, Avery Nixon, Hannah Effinger, Nicky Vidal and my successor to the fiction section, Olivia Yayla who helped bring this section to life with me. It was such a privilege to share my fiction, and read all of the staff and contributing author’s remarkable work week to week.


Alex Pavljuk, Fiction Editor | 2022-2024

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