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Monday, June 24, 2024

My father scolded me when I was in sixth grade for being too timid to try out for the school play.

“If you want to do it, do it,” he said. “I’ll be here to support you. When I was your age, people laughed at me when I wanted to try new things like this. I will never do that.”

And he never did. He still doesn’t.

That laugh could’ve come when I told him I dreamed of being a journalist. Instead, he told me that I could do whatever I chased after.

And so I did. I’m still chasing.

In January, at the start of my final semester in college, I found myself leading my peers at the country’s largest independent student-run newspaper. It was one of the the scariest positions I had ever been in — the responsibility was overwhelming.

But given the talents of our students, I knew we would rise to the occasion.

The course of events since then proved challenging. From the tragedy on Interstate 75 to the tumultuous Student Government election to the loss of one of our classmates last week, this staff was charged with delivering the news to you quickly, clearly and accurately.

At every turn, we did our best to deliver for you, the reader.

On our sports pages, UF’s athletes routinely gave our writers plenty to report and opine about. They traveled far and burned the candle at both ends to give you coverage of the basketball team’s journey through the NCAA tournament.

Our opinions pages were filled with your voices. You were willing to put your thoughts out there for us. For that, we thank you.

On our website, our priority was to get you the best information fast. We posted articles and photos at all times of day. We tried to reach you through Twitter and Facebook.

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And through all this, the Alligator became our second home. On any day, you could find editors and reporters pounding on keyboards, writing and editing stories. At night, we sometimes didn’t have enough chairs for the number of students — both staffers and freelancers — who came to work.

I’m honored to have served as your editor. To our staff, this job has always been about serving you, the readers. We worked tirelessly day and night to make sure you knew why there were police cars with lights on outside your apartment window, where that smoke was coming from or what kinds of decisions your Student Government was making.

And behind every inch of space that we filled this semester stands the efforts of more than 50 students on a close-knit team.

As editor, I am privileged to have worked with such an amazing group of journalists. As a soon-to-be UF graduate, I am lucky to have found such a wonderful group of friends.

My father visited the newsroom for the first time about a month ago. Afterward, he told me he was impressed with what we do and he was happy to meet my Alligator family.

When he asked me how hard it was to keep up the energy, to keep pushing to fill the paper with good stories every day, I stopped, thought for bit and laughed.

“Well, we just keep chasing.”

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