A Farewell Piece: Features Editor Lauren Summers

PC: Sarina Kurrimbukus

Lauren Summers
Features Editor

At the beginning of 2018, I had no idea I would become so intertwined with The Carolinian newspaper, because prior to January, I had absolutely no journalism experience. While I have spent the majority of my life incredibly passionate about writing short stories and poetry, I had never written a newspaper article. Returning home last December from spending half a year abroad in Germany, I didn’t visualize myself accomplishing much more during my undergrad career.

Upon the start of the spring 2018 semester, I received an email from the English department that The Carolinian was looking for staff writers. I had always wanted to write for the school newspaper, but never had the opportunity in the past due to academic struggles. I jumped on this chance to apply and sent in my writing samples. After a week, I heard back from the former Features Editor that I had gotten the position.

I learned early on that being a Staff Writer for the features section would require me to cover events, capture photographs and most crucially of all: interview people. Having no experience with interviewing I was understandably nervous covering my very first event.

I landed my first interview with the Chair of the Greensboro TEDx Salons for a TEDx event. Although I nervously read each question off of my notepad during the interview, struggling a bit to make the conversation flow, I found that after it was over there was a very rewarding feeling.

Afterward, I wrote an article that was so well-received that someone from the TEDx Greensboro committee reached out to me asking if I would cover a huge all-day TEDx event, where distinguished individuals from around the country would deliver powerful TED talks. That was the defining moment where I felt my role as a Staff Writer took off.

I spent that spring semester covering various events and learning the ins and outs of journalism. I became quite fond of writing articles each week. I had always been a magnificent storyteller; learning to tell stories from a journalistic point of view was an added bonus.

Although some weeks were stressful and I felt I could no longer do it, I held tight and continued to grow as a writer. By the time April swung around, I learned that The Carolinian was hiring editors. I didn’t think of myself as capable of being an editor, let alone did I think I would actually get the position. I still applied, telling myself I would accept whatever outcome— and that’s when I landed the job.

Becoming an editor for a newspaper was an astonishing moment for me this year. In only one semester I had climbed my way up from an inexperienced Staff Writer to editing articles, envisioning the layout for the features section and delegating over a staff of writers each week.

The position that I had taken on had slowly begun to shape me as a writer and as a person. As this fall semester took off I had to start overcoming various challenges such as meeting deadlines, writing articles in a crunch or dealing with conflict on the job.

In all honesty, with the job also came my self-doubts. Somedays I questioned if I was a good editor; seeing minute errors that copy editors would clean up after me made me wonder if I was fit for the job. I had to remind myself each week that I was chosen to take on this job for a reason. The universe wouldn’t have handed it to me if I wasn’t capable.

Overall, the editor job taught me so many important lessons this semester. It taught me accountability, holding myself responsible for times when my section wasn’t the best that week. It taught me how to manage my time effectively, learning to skip some nights out in order to get articles done by a deadline. I also learned how to deal with conflict in a professional manner. Previously thinking of myself as socially awkward, the role that I took on made me realize I was actually very good at communicating with people.

Although I was by no means a perfect editor, I was able to cultivate a section each week despite every other challenge that was thrown at me in the busiest- and final- semester of my undergrad career.

I have no one to thank for that but my staff writers; without them, I would have never been able to cultivate the section I desired. The Editor-In-Chief unknowingly motivated me with her kind words about the job I was doing and my mother was my biggest cheerleader along the way.

Even though I took on this position for only a semester, it was one of the most defining moments of my college career. It was something that I had never expected to happen at the start of this year. The qualities that I gained as Features Editor, I plan to take with me into the next chapter of my life that is soon to begin.

In the final event that I covered for The Carolinian, an intricate art exhibition on the school-to-prison pipeline at Greensboro Project Space, I recognized how far I had come with this newspaper. As I covered the event, I realized how at ease I felt in my role as a writer and editor while I interviewed various people, and captured the essence of the event that night. I had come a long way from that nervous Staff Writer back in January.

I walked into 2018 with no particular expectations about where this year would take me. However, as it comes to an end, I can truly say that this year surpassed any modest expectations I may have had. I cultivated myself as a writer, expanding my portfolio tremendously. I overcame challenges, refusing to let myself break under pressure. Most significantly, this job taught me to believe in myself, to be proud of myself when warranted and to not doubt what I’m capable of achieving. Thank you, Carolinian, and farewell!

Categories: Features

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