There is no pressure quite like graduating college. Between planning for the future and maintaining your academic performance, seniors have a lot to focus on. Never one to shrink from difficult tasks, I loaded myself down with a few vital classes just to make sure I didn’t have a stress-free exit from UNCG. But even with the role that academics played in my life this year, The Carolinian was the most formative aspect of senior year.
The Carolinian was one of my most exacting teachers. From deadlines that had to be met, creative problem-solving and to the satisfaction that comes from putting forth my best work into the world. Every week was a week where I was able to share the standard by which others may judge me.
As I leave The Carolinian, excitement and a persistent case of nerves are my closest companions. Graduation is the cusp of a new part of students’ lives, as we leave even that familiar title of ‘student’ behind. But I am not just leaving UNCG, but also what has been the center of my life for the last year.
A professor told us last semester that the purpose of a college degree was not entrance into a specific job field, but to provide evidence that we were capable of a higher degree of thought. That through earning a diploma, we have proved that we devote ourselves to long hours of work, read and write well and think critically. It is those skills that will carry us through our lives once we leave UNCG, no matter where we find ourselves.
I won’t deny that my classes have helped me with everything my professor mentioned. But the importance of the last aspect of our informal education at UNCG, critical thinking, was most emphasized by my work at The Carolinian. The role of a newspaper is to report on the world around us, and to provide commentary on what we find. Gathering information should go beyond reading student media, but I have found over the course of the last year that even when our ability to report on our community was outpaced by daily publications or dwarfed by national news, the energy of student commentary maintained the same momentum as these larger sources.
I know that the community of UNCG is filled by students that are eager to express their thoughts about the world that we are a part of, because I have seen those voices emerge on pages five-to-eight for the past year. But for all my confidence in our ability to reflect on our world, worries about the future of information remain.
Media outlets across the country are falling on hard times. Journalism is facing budget cuts in public institutions, loss of profits and jobs in the private sector, competes with shareable clickbait and continues to be lambasted by our President as untrustworthy. After a year of feeling my confidence in our paper and school community grow, I leave UNCG worried about not only the future of journalism but the future of our students.
It is not enough to have opinion without information.
If we, as students, do not take it upon ourselves to grow into informed citizens, then we have failed our education, no matter the GPA we graduate with.
That The Carolinian has given a platform to student voices since 1919 is a source of pride for me as a student of UNCG, and as a part of that legacy.
I firmly believe that student media is more than a pastime; it is one of the pillars of a university that values student success.
Facing graduation and my entry into the ‘real world’ I don’t know what my future will bring. I do know that my past at The Carolinian will prepare me for whatever I may find. I trust, and I know, that The Carolinian will continue to prepare students for a world that needs their intelligence, perceptions and participation more than ever.