With less than two weeks left until graduation and a whole slew of stressful things I need to accomplish before then, I find that my time with my fellow Oracle staff members has always created a neutral space. This year, my senior year, I inquired about The Oracle to professors and classmates. I wanted to know who put it together and how to be a part of it — I knew it would help me to hone my skills as a writer, but I never knew what I was really in for when I began those long hours of production nights. The first article I ever wrote for was one of the most nerve racking things I’ve ever done. It was my tryout, my audition piece, to see if I was good enough to sit around a table with a number of other amazing student journalists and work on an award-winning college newspaper. I got an early start, contacting my sources the day after the story meeting and sat with my laptop going over my writing for hours, making sure I was clear, concise and detailed. I made my roommates read it, and my siblings read it, I even sent it to a previous professor, and after sending it in, I held my breath. I beamed when I finally got the email detailing my new writing and copy editing position.
My first production night was a really strange experience for me as I had never been in a real newsroom, and I barely knew any of the staff that surrounded the table sharing laughs and talking comfortably. I sat in a chair in the corner and put my headphones in that night as I edited story after story. I was not sure what to expect, only that I had to keep working. As heavy rain sounds pounded through my earbuds, I observed everyone’s interactions and they weren’t just working on the paper. Melissa popped out of her sports corner giggling with laughter to show any number of people all the new memes she’d found on her phone. Melanie was stunning as she leaned over the table asking questions about various news stories. I remember admiring her jet black hair with its effortless curls. Russell watched YouTube videos of Ranger games as he shouted over Monique — silent, with eyes trained on ITe Illiad — across the newsroom to Karl, who’s computer screen flashed with battle debris from a Super Smash Brothers video. Sam sat comfortably in tie-dyed harem pants and a beanie crying laughing at one of Rachael’s latest one-liners, as Jess and Amanda quietly giggled and smiled coyly behind their glaring laptop screens. Anthony had the most beautiful damn eyelashes I had ever seen and I couldn’t for the life of me stop staring at them, I know he thought I was nuts. Jack and Michael were either arguing over baseball teams and statistics, relentlessly insulting each other, or falling deeper and deeper into their long, passionate bromance. Nate ignored most of it, like a father at a children’s birthday barbeque and Kristen, watched on in brightly colored lipstick, poised and focused, periodically breaking up the chaos and keeping everyone focused on the task at hand.
After that, I quickly learned how the newsroom ran and eased my way into this group of insane but admirable people. I spent many late nights coming to appreciate all kinds of music I had never heard before, and getting to know all of the characters that surrounded me. We worked together for long hours, we laughed together for even longer hours and we became better people because of the time that we spent together. In even the smallest of ways, each of the people I have spent my time with while working on The Oracle has truly embraced me. While working for the paper allowed me to improve my writing and prepare to work in a real newsroom, my greatest lessons came from getting to know my staff — talking, thinking and most of the time oversharing. Seriously, what is a filter? We HAVE NO IDEA. As outrageous as I can be sometimes, I was welcomed by a very close group of human beans that I respect and admire for their authenticity, and ability to genuinely be themselves 100 percent of the time. As I leave, I only hope that I have had even a fraction of the impact that they have had on me. Even though I had more than enough before, I hope I retain some of the cool I picked up in that room, those kids kill it.