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Friday, November 16, 2018

Letter from the Editor

Letter from the Editor: The Cougar is greater than its parts


|Fiona Legesse/The Cougar

 

I have never been for school spirit. It’s just never been me. My goal in college was to be black and educated and go on to be successful in whatever my heart desired.

Going into journalism, I needed to start somewhere. There was only one organization on campus that could even remotely guide my growth.

The Cougar is many things outside what our constitution and mission statements say of being a learning laboratory. We are a group of peers, coworkers, competitors, and the kind of family that you’ve always wanted but never knew you needed.

Walking into The Cougar, it felt like that one scene in “The Post” where phones are ringing and typewriters are clicking inside the New York Times. Little did I know, I walked in on the busiest day of the week — print day.

I was thrown off and anxious for my first time being in a newsroom. Everyone seemed so important, almost untouchable.

After meeting with the opinion editor at the time, I felt an air of opportunity: The opportunity to be the best person in the newsroom. I excluded myself from the social aspect of the organization and wanted to be known only for my writing. Nothing more, nothing less.

I guess it worked, because the next semester I became a senior staff writer. A few months later, I was the opinion editor.

That’s when my perception of working for The Cougar changed.

This was my first glimpse of what it feels like to have a group of people directly depend on me. Not just my fellow editors, but also my staff of 15 opinion writers.

In a few months’ time, I embarked on something that I vowed to never do. Not only did I earn a brand new position at The Cougar — the features editor — but it was also at the news desk, something that I had previously only hated from afar.

I didn’t know it then, but this was the start of my passion for both the art of journalism and my organization.

I spent the months that followed gaining footing at what it means to do capital “J” journalism. I was a face to UH community and was becoming more and more a part of the family that is The Cougar.

After a month of hints pushing me toward responsibility I didn’t feel ready for, I blinked and became the editor in chief.

Let me say again, I was not ready for this job. But no one is ever ready.

You can never be fully ready for someone to question a talent you’ve spent months refining. You can never be ready for editors to leave unexpectedly due to family illnesses. And you can never be ready to make mistakes that not only affect you, but reverberate across the entire paper and staff.

However, what you gain from all of that is something that you will never lose, regardless of whether you go into journalism.

You learn to wear many hats at once: a coach, a team player, a mentor. More importantly, you learn to care about something that is greater than you, even if you are responsible for running it. You realize that you become a part of something that adds to both the people that came before you and the ones thereafter.

I was editor in chief for only four months. In that time, I have learned and gone through so much that I could write a memoir about it.

Thanks to my board, I have gained all that I can to take me to my next endeavor, whether that be in-state, out-of-state or abroad. For everything I may have given them, they have given to me tenfold — each and every one of them.

Between the laughs, late nights, stress, and tears, I would not have done anything differently.

Looking back on my two and a half years at The Cougar, it will be weird not being a part of the publication that launched and propelled me forward.

However, being able to look on as a reader, a critic, but most importantly, a fan, to the next crop of great young journalists and writers is nothing short of the greatest honor any editor could dream of having.

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