I can’t begin to think of a suitable introduction to this letter, which will be my last-ever composition for The Mountain Echo.
Perhaps the subject of time is a relatable place to begin. Four years may seem a blip on the radar of human history, yet every college graduate can attest to the long-term significance of the triumphs and trials that accompany his or her four-year undergraduate career.
I could not agree more; the lessons that I have absorbed solely as a member of the Echo have completely changed the way that I perceive, analyze and understand the world.
Working for a campus newspaper has taught me lessons that I would never have learned in the classroom. The act of reporting refined my ability to engage people through both speech and script. I came to know the thrill of sitting courtside at NCAA basketball games. I experienced both the ceremony and the technical processes of covering a sitting President of the United States. I learned to take criticism, however warranted, in stride, whether directed toward my staff or myself.
I learned the value of putting in extra hours of hard work. I saw for myself that good communication with one’s superiors and co-workers is paramount to the success of any enterprise. And perhaps most importantly, I have learned that second chances, as rare as they may be, allow limitless room for growth and self-improvement.
These are lessons that I hope to impart to the Echo’s newest group of editors, who composed this last edition of spring 2016 on their own. I have complete confidence that this group, now led by new Managing Editor Rebecca Schisler, will take these lessons to heart while carrying forward a tradition of Mount journalism that has lasted for over 100 years.
I entered the Mount as a first-year student with a passion for writing and analyzing current events. At my first Echo meeting in 2012, I was assigned to the sports section, where I covered the fall season of men’s and women’s tennis.
My work was enjoyable, but what I loved (and what I still love) about being a part of the Echo was its staff. I made friendships that would span the rest of my college career. I worked in the sports section with current Sports Editor Andrew Wyatt, and at the time, former Managing Editor Nicholas Schreiber served as our section’s editor. Andrew and Nicholas are only a few of those Echo staff members whom I feel lucky to call a family within my larger Mount family.
I imagine that this is similar to what other Mount students have experienced in other academic and extracurricular clubs. Student organizations around campus prepare for a variety of vocations; though our purposes may be diverse, we all share a great amount of pride for this university.
Working for the Echo is not easy. We are driven to adhere to the principles that have always characterized good journalism. When we make mistakes, we must correct them, and we take seriously the lessons we learn from them. Fortunately, there are several motivated individuals who have stepped up to the plate and delivered as photographers, writers, web designers, columnists, guest contributors, faculty advisors and editors. I wish I had the space in this letter to thank all of them.
And of course, community members and Mount alumni have time and again contributed content to the Echo, carrying open and honest dialogue about issues that impact our community. It has been encouraging to see this kind of participation during the past year from various sides of various issues.
The past year has been one of arduous growth for our small newspaper. But the progress that we have made in the past 12 months, and the progress that we continue to make each and every day, keep me hopeful for our publication’s future.
I want to end on a short anecdote that I think captures the emotions surrounding the last few weeks of senior year.
In the middle of a conversation about the end of my four years at the Mount, a good friend of mine, a Mount professor, posed a question:
“So, what will you miss most about Mount St. Mary’s?”
I thought about it for a moment. Of all the things I will have to let go of in less than two weeks, what will hurt most?
Will it be the sunsets that crown the top of the Catoctin mountain range during the early evening hours? Will it be the raucous atmosphere of a basketball game in Knott Arena? Or perhaps it will be the spiritual awe of entering our IC Chapel during Mass for the first time?
In the span of a few seconds, however, the answer seemed clear. So I laughed a bit, holding back any hint of sadness at the thought of leaving.
“Truthfully,” I said, “it’s the people I will miss most.”
The Mount is the place where I learned about history, literature, science, religion, business and the arts. Here, I wrote essays, performed nineteenth century theatre, listened to engaging speakers, officiated flag football games and participated in engaging discussions about the nature of life and the human condition. It took a considerable amount of dedicated individuals to make these experiences possible.
And so, I have you to thank, my fellow Mountaineer friends, for allowing me to be a part of this community. I encourage you to answer this question for yourselves, and to let your answer inspire you and everything you do.