My Montclair State University journey began on a very different path than my predecessors. It started in the back of a second-floor, windowless classroom in Richardson Hall, where I would play “Flappy Bird” and “Solitaire” on my fancy TI-Nspire calculator.
That was a distraction, but it was not enough for me to stay.
During my freshman year, I felt like I was alone. People looked at me like I did not belong and that brought my self-esteem to an all-time low. This is because in high school, I was a shy little redhead who thought she was a math whiz and dreamed of teaching algebra.
Memorizing formulas like SOH-CAH-TOA and the Pythagorean Theorem was easy for me. Teachers would call on me during class and I would answer correctly almost every time.
Math was my calling, but somewhere along the way, I lost my magic touch. I became so dependent on my mom to help me with my coursework, to the point where I could barely get by. I had trouble solving basic problems, understanding concepts and I was even failing tests.
By the middle of that semester, I lost the interest and determination to continue on. Math became a foreign language and I struggled to the point of frustration, depression and hopelessness.
That was the lowest point in my academic career, but I could not quit, I needed a “Plan B.” An idea occurred to me after finding an article I wrote for my high school newspaper; I could be a journalist.
When I got accepted into the journalism program before my sophomore year, I was overjoyed and grateful there was someone out there who saw journalistic potential in a former math geek.
That someone was Faculty Advisor for The Montclarion, Tara George, who originally interviewed me for the program and then became my academic advisor.
After speaking to a journalism class at MSU yesterday, I stopped in and visited the Montclarion at their new office in the beautiful new school of communications. @TheMontclarion it’s a lot different from my time as EiC in 2010 pic.twitter.com/g7QnJWc8ke
— Kristie Cattafi (@KristieCattafi) November 28, 2018
The decision Tara made to accept me completely changed how I saw myself as a college student. I knew she could tell from the beginning that I was very shy and a little stubborn, but she and my other professors challenged me to get out of my comfort zone and actually go out and talk to people.
“Operation Reel Rebecca In” was a success.
Tara’s feedback and encouragement helped me to regain the confidence and self-esteem that I lost during my freshman year. I cannot be more thankful to have had her as a mentor throughout my time with The Montclarion.
For the first time in many years, I found a sense of belonging; I started making friends from my classes and from The Montclarion. Not long after, I was on the editorial board.
Coming from a background where I felt like it was me against everyone else to be the smartest, I loved feeling that all of us were working together and if I needed help, there would be someone there who would not make me feel inferior for needing it.
The Montclarion team became a family to me, we each have our own strengths, struggles and quirks. Thomas’ cartoon impressions, the fact that Ben and I both have a secret stash of candy, Heather introducing us to her “Faturday” tradition, being envious of Jen’s “copy breaks,” Mackenzie who enjoys spending her Wednesday nights AirDropping pictures of her cat to random members of WMSC and so many more to name.
To my exit buddy Alexa, you have done an amazing job with the feature section and we must meet up and plan our highly anticipated Montclarion comeback. I am excited to see what you do with your new degree status and when you find a job, please let me know if they have a two-for-one deal.
To my “Opinion Men,” Brian and Anton, take good care of the section for me. After many years of having a female in the driver’s seat, I’m excited to see what ideas you guys come up with. I know you both will do amazing things for The Montclarion.
Most importantly, Brian, do not let being the editor stop you from being your funny, sarcastic self. Just do not do anything too stupid, as I still have the ability to read and will be watching you like Robert DeNiro in “Meet the Parents.”
With all that being said, I hope I have left a legacy at The Montclarion besides being the spiciest ginger behind the editorial column, which, in my “opinion,” was a very interesting position choice for a girl whose writing is as fiery as her hair.
There is not a word count big enough to show my gratitude toward the people that I have met here. You all have helped me grow, both as a student and as a future journalist. I am so thankful for all of the support and encouragement from my friends, fellow editors, classmates and professors as a part of the School of Communication and Media.
To my younger sisters, you both have some big shoes to fill.
Rachel, you have your entire college career ahead of you, so make the most of it because, by the end, you are going to want it back.
Vicki, if you ever read this, keep working hard. I look forward to sitting next to you at graduation in May.
Lastly, to my parents, thank you for your love and support as I continue to follow my dreams and find my place in the working world. This journey has been a wild ride and I could not be more grateful to have both of you as my agents.
My mom has discovered the SCM. I must find a new hiding place pic.twitter.com/hxczxO4CCG
— Rebecca Serviss (@rebecca_serviss) October 31, 2019
I also want to leave some advice for the freshmen who are unsure of what career path to choose.
You have plenty of time to find your place here. There are so many people and resources ready to help you make that big decision.
If you are in my situation, I encourage you to go with your “Plan B” and take a risk. It may just end up being one of the best decisions you will ever make.
Although my college journey was only three and a half years, it felt like a lifetime full of mistakes, achievements and of course, plenty of memories that I will cherish and truly miss.
Groundhog sees its shadow on campus… I guess that means there’s three months until I graduate 🎓 pic.twitter.com/BBr7BRJxmN
— Rebecca Serviss (@rebecca_serviss) September 19, 2019
In my culture, we are not taught to say goodbye, instead, we say להתראות lehitraot, see you later.