A letter from the editor: A new perspective

Jacob+Summerville

Jacob Summerville

I blinked, and six semesters have come and gone.

Starting my journey at The Lion’s Roar in September of 2017, my only intentions when I took the position were to improve myself as a writer while also earning some cash. Writing was never an issue for me, so taking a position at the student newspaper as a freshman seemed reasonable. After these six short semesters however, I would have never guessed that I would learn the array of skills I have acquired, the variety of events I would cover, and the leadership roles I would assume. 

From learning about the negligence of the Oxford comma in AP style writing to creating a 24-page magazine from scratch, I have inherited a unique set of skills that no other campus job would have allowed me to have. I am not a communications major, but I have seen how fruitful these seeds of knowledge can become. As I leave this position, I can not only apply for jobs within my desired career field – environmental law – but also earn more experience in temporary jobs in photography, an area I was once incompetent in. 

I witnessed nearly all of Greek Week 2019. Added to that, I have visited the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts over a dozen times, covered numerous sporting events, attended several talks and almost got killed by a “caber” during a Scottish festival. If you have never heard of caber tossing, look it up – I promise you, it is insane. I have lived college through an untraditional lens by being able to chronicle some of the university’s most popular events – like the Miss Southeastern pageants and Homecoming Week – which have added richness to my experience in a way an average attendee cannot imagine. I have also tackled issues such as free speech and political debates within events to give me a perspective of what my peers think concerning some of the most pressing issues this country faces. 

As with any organization, taking on leadership positions have pushed me past my breaking point: sometimes for the worse, sometimes for the better. A major challenge came with the sudden assumption of the Editor-in-Chief position this past September, along with 15 new staff members trickling in throughout my term. I knew I was not as well prepared as I could have been, but that is the entire point of leadership and growth. Challenges you have never faced before will pop up on your radar when you least desire them. Whether it is teaching numerous new reporters about their positions or managing a staff during a pandemic, questions will always come your way, and you may not have the answers for them. To my experience, transparency and respect will never cease to bring an excellent result in a group setting. You are not supposed to have all the answers, but as a leader, you should be an example of how to act when you do not know every variable.

With these memories lingering in my head late on a Thursday night, I have realized two things: stress does nothing positive for you, and you must know your purpose. 

 

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What I have learned through my time at Student Publications is no matter how great you are at a certain task, you cannot do everything. These stressful moments arise whenever I pushed myself past a breaking point and was upset by the undesirable outcome. My errors have been a means of tutelage for improvement: I have become more effective in delegating tasks to other employees while retaining the major say over a decision. Learning this will aid me in my future endeavors. Stress is self-draining and a characteristic of being overly independent. I now understand that in order to help my staff perform to their best ability, I must take care of myself and talk out personal issues with those I trust. That way, I am a more whole person, and the staff will see a more accurate reflection when I communicate with them. 

Second, you must know your purpose. During my first semester, my coworker, Rachel, made a chatterbox game and asked me to play. My “fortune” result was that I was going to be the next Editor-in-Chief at The Lion’s Roar. Well she was not far off, as I would take the position after the following person. I came into this position wanting to engage with the student body by increasing the content generated by the community. Additionally, I wanted to grow the staff and create an environment of encouragement and improvement rather than judgement and pessimism. 

In my opinion, I have reached these goals, but goals outside my position were reaching me. I knew that going into my first of four senior semesters in Fall 2020, I needed to focus on finding a law internship as soon as I could. While I am still in that process, I have achieved many more goals under the unique conditions of the pandemic. Taking a step back and analyzing my life direction, I knew this position would come to an end, and the cleanest way would be to end after the spring semester. 

I look around, and I am a freshman nervous about his new position at the newspaper, and then time flew. It is nearly three years later, and as I am writing this early on a Friday morning, my employment at the newspaper ends in roughly 12 hours. If I had the time to type 10,000 words thanking every student and staff member for their influence on me, I probably could not because I am terrible at being concise. What I can say however is that this experience has served as a giant stepping stone towards my personal and professional development. This job has given me a perspective on campus and community events that no others could, and I am thankful for that. 

As I have ended my employment with the newspaper after saying my goodbyes, I am stepping into a new perspective. With three years of college down and two more left, I now know not to blink too quickly. 

 

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