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Senior Goodbye: Robert O’Connor

by Robert O'Connor

It’s kind of funny how life happens.

When I graduated high school, I was mortified to find out I’d be spending the first half of my collegiate career at a community college. I desperately craved the stereotypical college experience I’d seen in countless movies and television shows.

I can assure you that Bergen Community College had little in common with NBC’s “Community.” However, I buckled down, and two and a half years later, I graduated Bergen and made my way to Montclair State University.

I spent my first semester at Montclair State, for the most part, repeating the patterns I made for myself at community college — I went to class, did my work and went home. After completing my first semester, one of my family members asked me if I was going to be doing anything school-related during the summer. I thought to myself, “Yeah, I guess I probably should,” and emailed The Montclarion the next day.


Former Entertainment Editor Babee Garcia poses with Assistant Editor turned Entertainment Editor Robert O’Connor.
Chanila German | The Montclarion

From there, I began working as former Entertainment Editor Babee Garcia’s assistant, eventually taking over the section as my own. I have always loved writing, and this position gave me the opportunity to not only improve my own work but to help other writers get better while we broadened our horizons as to what could constitute an entertainment beat.

After a year and a half working with The Montclarion, I have certainly gained more professional experience than I would have anticipated. I learned editing skills, how to effectively lay out a print edition, upload articles directly to a website, critique others’ work, train assistants and even got to interview celebrities.

It is insane that I was given the opportunity to interview “The Conjuring” star Patrick Wilson and his wife, “Succession’s” Dagmara Dominczyk!


After working so closely with them, the editorial staff has become a second family to Robert O’Connor.
Robert O’Connor | The Montclarion

I will never be able to forget the friendships I have forged while working for The Montclarion. The long nights we all would spend in the office, cranking out that week’s print edition, were not always easy but I loved every second of it.

There is something almost infectious about working directly alongside people who are equally passionate and dedicated. We all worked toward making the paper the best it could be, and I would say we were pretty successful.

I would kick myself if I wasted this opportunity and not mention some of the professors who have helped me along the way. I need to give the biggest shoutout to professor Tara George, who works as The Montclarion’s faculty adviser. She has helped me hone my skills more so than I ever thought possible, and she is genuinely caring and wants the best for all of us. With so many professors in the School of Communication and Media saying that print is dead and writers need to switch over to broadcast or face irrelevance, professor George’s reassurance that writing is still valuable helped me, along with many other writers and editors, feel as though we were not wasting our time.


The Montclarion staff poses at the 2017 holiday party.
Photo courtesy of Alfredo Garcia

My faculty adviser and, as I like to call him Pulitzer Professor, Tom Franklin helped me not only figure out Montclair State as a transfer student, but taught me more about photography and editing than I ever thought I would be able to do. Being taught photojournalism by the man who took the iconic 9/11 photo was sometimes intimidating, but priceless and valuable.

This past semester, I went with The Montclarion to a journalism convention in Kentucky. I vividly remember one night, sitting on the edge of my hotel room’s window, looking at Louisville and a thought went through my mind. I thought to myself, “Had someone told me four years ago, when I started Bergen, that I would be on this trip with these amazing friends I love so deeply, doing work I genuinely enjoy and having the time of my life, there is no way I would have believed it.” Yet, there I was, doing just that.


From left to right: Sports Editor Anthony Gabbianelli, Editor-in-Chief Haley Wells, Entertainment Editor Robert O’Connor, Chief Copy Editor Fiorella Medina and Managing Editor Dominique Evans were some of the editorial staff who went to the 2018 National College Media Convention in Louisville, Kentucky.
Robert O’Connor | The Montclarion

It’s kind of funny how life happens. It’s full of surprises and more twists than an M. Night Shamaylan movie – but it’s thankfully more entertaining than “The Happening.” Whenever I think I finally got it figured out, I will seemingly always be surprised by something, but that’s okay because I know that the friends I’ve made here are going to be a part of my life forever and with friends like them, anything’s possible.

I want to thank everyone who has contributed to The Montclarion’s entertainment section while I have worked here; reading and editing your articles is always a highlight of my week, and I genuinely appreciate your contributions. To my fellow editors, you guys not only rock but are my rock. You have given me the “real” college experience, and I cannot be more grateful.

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