The New Paltz Oracle is a student-run newspaper for the campus and town community of New Paltz. It acts as a great way for journalism students to gain experience and knowledge of the ins and outs of a publication during college. It is also a home, a hassle and a place to pour your heart into. It’s full of the best writers New Paltz has to offer; people who are full of unending drive and peculiar personalities that clash and blend altogether.
I’ve been part of the Oracle since my second semester at SUNY New Paltz and I’ve seen quite a number of changes within our make-up and office culture.
Some things always stayed the same, like banging on the desks and keeping a quote board, while other things ebbed and flowed, like the design of the cover or our AP style choices. I’ve had moments where I despised working on it, moments where I wanted to throw up, have a heart attack or an aneurysm and moments when it was the only thing keeping me going. Regardless, it has always been the place where everything made sense, and where I always knew I belonged.
I’ve never been a journalism major and I never had the intention of pursuing it after I graduated, but the Oracle became my place anyway. The people who inhabit that office are some of the best people I’ve ever met, and I owe them so much.
This reflection doesn’t come close to capturing all of my feelings, but it’s worth some sort of shot.
I’ll start with the current staff and move down into the previous staff members who shaped and guided me through my long and arduous journey to managing editor.
Jake, my partner in crime and extraordinary EIC, I am so thankful for you. You’re one of my best friends, my confidants and my favorite roommate ever. I am so lucky to have grown with you and grow the Oracle alongside your genius and brilliant presence. You are an excellent leader with a big heart who I admire so much. You are exactly what the Oracle always needed and I look forward to seeing how you transform it even more during the rest of your time at New Paltz.
Mahnoor, there was no one better to take on the A&E section than you. I was so thrilled when you entered the position and even more thrilled to see how much life you were able to breathe into a section I was worried I made stale. You are brilliant, open minded and a treasure to have in my life as a friend and coworker. I am honored to have been able to grow and learn with you. From your amazing writing to your insightful advice, your personality and your creativity, I am so happy to know you.
Max, you’ve been such a good friend and companion on this paper. From your proficient journalism skills to even better friendship, I love that we became close over the years. You’re truly one of my favorite people, despite how long it took you to call me by the right name. I love how we threw ourselves into the Oracle head first and found our footing, but not without some hiccups and bewilderment. I admire your dedication to the work we produce and your ability to strive for more, and I look forward to seeing you continue all of this, living up to your full potential and more!
Nicole, you’re really one of the best journalists I’ve ever met. I am so delighted to have grown with you as well, and I can’t wait to see how far you go in the field. You lifted the features section up and are leaving it on such a high note, I could not be prouder or more excited by it. Your hard work has truly paid off.
Dani Walpole and Matt McDonough, the best A&E copy editors. You both have grown as writers so much on the Oracle and I’m glad to have had the opportunity to see it. You’re both extremely talented and have a knack for Arts writing that I love indulging in. Matt, your growth as a writer has been so incredible and I am so happy to have helped you join the paper way back when. Both of you are also by far the funniest people on staff, contributing endless amounts of humor to the quote board. I am so happy to have been here for all of it.
Nikki and Rachel, the hardest working copy editors I’ve ever seen on this staff, thank you for your diligence and drive. No matter what, I’ve always known I could count on you to pull anything together, and the reason we ever ran smoothly was because of the great work you both did. I cannot wait to see how much more great work you both do.
Ethan, Morgan, Dani G., Amayah and Emily, the newbies I did not get enough time with, I love you all so much. I am so thrilled to know that you’re the future of this paper and I’m happy to leave it with you all. I’m glad you got to see my crazy way of running things. I cannot wait to see all that you achieve in the next few years, and how much you all grow.
Katie, Jared and Susanna, I can’t even find the words to explain how much I love you guys. Katie, I am so glad we crossed paths here at the paper. You’re such a hard worker, and you were always a delight to have nice chats with in the office. Susanna, you are basically me but in a different font and with better time management skills. Your drive and ambition knows no end and I am so proud to see you stepping up into managing editor. You’re going to absolutely rock this paper and I am so excited to see it happen. Jared, from your music taste to your fashion sense, I am so glad we’ve become close. You’re such a remarkable writer and person. Rebuild Mrs. Puff for me; please, it’s my final request as managing editor.
Shyana and Kelsey, it was sad enough with you both leaving me early, and it’s even sadder that now the semester is over and I’m leaving. Shy, your presence in the office was always delightful and I looked forward to seeing you and sharing laughs. Kelsey, I love you with my whole heart and look forward to when you rule the journalism world. You have the biggest heart out of anyone I know, plus your copy editing and writing skills are out of this world. You brought so much light and joy into the office and into my life, and I hope we reunite soon!
Emma, your energetic and lively presence in the office has always made editorial meetings a pleasure. Your cartoons and thoughtful ideas were also always so refreshing to hear and share and I look forward to seeing you do awesome things in the future!
Onto some older staff members — Rachael Purtell, my fearless leader. You led this paper with an efficient iron first and pushed me to be a better version of myself as a writer, editor and person. You never ceased to be wholly yourself and it was inspiring and scary all at once when I was first starting out, but truly, I cannot thank you enough for holding this paper together and getting it to greatness. It was an honor to work alongside you and I’m so happy to see you moving up in the world, absolutely making everything work for you no matter what the circumstances. I cannot wait to see where those country roads lead you.
Natalie, I am so thankful I joined this paper and became your friend. Sitting side by side with you, crafting the gunk into glory, and becoming best friends is something I will always admire the Oracle for giving me. I can’t even think of all the things I want to say here in this tiny reflection, but I love you so much and I’m so glad we took the wheel and grew together.
Briana Bonfiglio, thank you for raising me into the A&E section and being my blueprint. I always admired your tenacity, your writing and your skill, and I hoped to emulate them when I stepped up as a page editor. I’m so glad I had you as a guiding light so early on to help me get to where I am now.
Jackson Shrout, I started off as your co-copy editor in A&E and I am so thankful we met through the paper and became friends. Your writing helped me see how my writing could be and it helped me work hard to get better and better.
Perhaps the most important person to thank is Jack O’Brien, my first EIC and the man who took me on board. I’m so glad I mustered up the courage to email you back when I was a tiny freshman, and even more glad you invited me to be a part of this wonderful organization. Without you, all the rest may not have been possible.
Thank you to Jimmy, Cloey, Alicia and everyone who has come through that orange office, whether we got close or not, and everyone I’ve worked with to make it the best damn local paper in town. As I write this reflection, I see how many people I have to thank for helping me grow into the person I am proud to be, but more so I see how many people have become irreplaceable friends.
Saying goodbye to this paper has proven to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in college, which is not something I ever expected. I have so much more I want to say and do as a member of this fantastic bubble, but time really does fly when you’re having fun. I love how this outlet gave me space to be a writer for four strong, solid and safe years. This is not the way I wanted to say my goodbyes either, over Zoom and without editing next to everyone at the copy desk, but we make do.
The culture of this staff has changed immensely in my time here and I know it’s destined to change even more in the years to come. I am so thankful to have had my hand stirring the pot of local media for as long as I did. I am so grateful to the Oracle for making me a more inquisitive, thought-provoking person and writer. I am thankful it sparked my love/hate relationship with journalism with all the fire and passion I could ask for. There is nowhere else I would’ve rather spent my Wednesday nights. But mostly, I am endlessly grateful for these incredible people who were my rock, my roller coaster and my family.