Every semester, about 50 students come together to put out a daily newspaper for UF students.
They spend their days talking with other students and professors, playing phone tag with each other and sacrificing their evenings and social lives to sit in an ancient office building using even older computers so you have something to grab out of the orange bins on campus every day.
It's not always a glamorous job, and it doesn't always earn us new friends, but it is a special experience for everyone who has ever had the opportunity to enter the newsroom.
It is hard for me to remember what it is like to eat dinner at a normal time. The concept of doing homework before the day it is due will probably always be foreign to me.
Luckily, I will be graduating and won't have to spend my last semester at UF Alligator-less. I'm not sure what I would do with all the free time, and I'd have a hard time staying away from the newsroom, where I've spent more than 40 hours a week with great people for the last two years.
Whenever I look back on my time at UF, I will think about the Alligator and the hours I spent sitting in creaky rolling chairs, helping reporting students get their stories just right or looking up the day's weather to put on page two.
I'll think about the Secret Santa gift exchanges the staff does every year and how we always take turns calling in orders for Chinese food. That is what will define my college experience, and that is what helped prepare me for my career.
I won't waste your time thanking my goldfish and my second cousins for supporting me as I worked my way to the position of editor-in-chief. The important people in my life already know how much I appreciate them for listening to my crazed rants about having to cover Student Government meetings and for letting me leave holiday dinners early so I could come back to budget the newspaper.
But I do want to leave you thinking about the time, energy and GPA points the hardworking students who produce this newspaper put into it.
For you, it might just be an opportunity to make a stupid comment on the website or serve as a distraction from your early-morning psychology class. But for those 50 or so staffers, it literally is a home away from home. (There are five couches in our office, and we've all taken a nap on them at least once.)
We all came together with the common goals of serving the public, building portfolios and learning how to be good journalists, but we go home every night excited to come back and work together the next day.
We work here to serve you, but at the end of the day we go home doing something we love.