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Friday, May 17, 2024

I have dreaded this exact moment: My acrylic nails tapping against my phone at 3:41 a.m. as I type into the notes app.

What am I going to say? How am I going to leave this newspaper, which has become synonymous with my journalism career? Ironically, I’ve thought about what I would write for my goodbye column since I became an Alligator staff writer as a sophomore. Now, I’m a senior who is graduating from UF in a semester.

I decided to tell you a story.

In the span of two years, a kid from Miami Beach has: groveled as a contributing writer, panicked as a general assignment reporter, hustled as a crime reporter, panicked again as a desk editor, somehow wrote 2,000-word stories as a managing editor and interned at her hometown newspaper. She then became the editor-in-chief of the largest student-run independent newspaper in the United States.

Are you out of breath? Because I am.

Was I the best editor-in-chief this paper has ever seen? Absolutely not. Did I go a whole semester without some kind of controversy? No, but that’s life. Did I please everyone? Nah. Did I want to? No! I’m a reporter, for the love of God.

But, I care. A lot. No matter how blunt, sarcastic and flippant I am, I care. I care so much that I feel it in the morning first in my shoulders, then in my spine. It weighs down on my neck. While I was busy, my body had forgotten how to get rid of a cough, which lasted for a month straight. As I type this sentence, my back aches.

I care so much it hurts, but it’s not that I care about what other people think of me. (That ship sailed years ago.) It doesn’t make sense to care about what is out of my control. What matters to me is if I did the best with the control I have.

When you become Alligator editor-in-chief, you’re shared on a Google document of tips and instructions. But let’s be real — there is no preparing for what comes next. Nobody teaches you how to manage classes, a newspaper and anxiety. Nobody holds your hand to get through it all. The semester is a boxer and you just have to keep your hands up.

But, I’m lucky. I made my closest friends at The Alligator. When I look at this stack of flimsy pieces of recycled paper, my heart feels full. I’m so grateful. I’ve never been happier. Gainesville, thanks for everything.

If you need me, I shouldn’t be hard to find. I am facey, after all.

Amanda Rosa was the editor-in-chief of The Alligator

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