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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Goodbye column: I didn’t know I was sentimental until I had to say goodbye

It won’t always be easy, but I can guarantee it will always be worth it

I changed my major to journalism and transferred to UF my junior year and was terrified. 

I didn’t know anyone at UF, and I barely knew about journalism, let alone AP style. But I did know that I needed to work at The Independent Florida Alligator. I applied for Spring 2019 as a staff photographer and was a “finalist” but didn’t get the position.

When my application for Summer 2019 was turned down, I asked the current photo editor how I could improve. The person told me I needed more experience and that the word “photojournalism” in my portfolio was spelled wrong. I forgot the “u.” Talk about embarrassing. 

I was upset because how do you get experience when no one will take a chance on you? And how in the world did I not realize I was missing the “u” in photojournalism?

I didn’t apply for Fall 2019, because I thought I wouldn’t get the position. 

During that Fall, I had my first photo published by the Alligator.  It was a photo I took at the Trump Jr. protest at UF of a woman in a blue “Nasty Women” shirt, holding up a “Drain the Swamp of white supremacy. Go back to Russia” sign. 

When I was walking to class the next day and saw that photo on the front page of the paper, I smiled and grabbed about four copies to give to my loved ones. The feeling of seeing my published photo was so rewarding to me. I finally made it. 

I was the sports photographer for Spring 2020, which was my first real experience with The Alligator. I barely had any sports experience, but I enjoyed the challenge. The sport I enjoyed shooting the most was gymnastics and actually, my favorite photo that I’ve taken is from one of the meets. 

Emily Felts gymnastics

Sadly, my time was cut short because of COVID-19, but I applied again to be a staff photographer this Fall to gain more experience during my last semester here at UF. 

During my interview, I was asked to be the multimedia editor, a role I absolutely love. Even though everything was held virtually, I’ve become so close to some of the reporters and especially the other editors. We’ve had a crazy ride together. 

And don’t get me started on my multimedia team... I’m so happy I had the privilege to work with such talented artists. My podcaster, Thomas, did a phenomenal job, and basically set the scene for whoever has his role next. I can totally see him working for NPR one day. My photographers are amazing. They were such a pleasure to work with, and I can’t wait to see the wonderful things that will come from Sammy and Lauren. My graphic designers, Aubrey and Shannon, went above and beyond my expectations and expanded the way I perceived multimedia journalism. I believe that they’ve all made me better. We’ve learned a lot from each other. 

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My wish came true. The experiences I gained this semester make me feel more confident about my future career. Plus, my organizational skills are finally on point which needed to happen.  

With all of that being said, the multimedia editor position is something I did not apply for. I thought I didn’t have what it takes and that I’d be shut down. I was afraid I wouldn’t even get the photographer position.  

A word of advice that I want to give and also need to take myself is to stop selling yourself short.

I know there are many photographers here at UF who think they are not good enough, so they might not apply to things, because I was one. I am my own worst critic. Even after getting this position, I was scared I wouldn’t do a good job.

 Instead, this has been one of the best experiences I’ve had. Apply to everything you want and if you don’t get it the first time, that’s OK. It’s even OK if you don’t get it the second or third time you apply. Everyone’s path is different. Don’t let it cast doubt on how great you are. Instead, use it as motivation to better yourself and your work. 

It won’t always be easy, but I can guarantee it will always be worth it. 

Thank you, Kyle, April, Rosmery and Dana for seeing my potential when I didn’t see it myself. I’m sad my time with The Alligator was short, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. 

Emily Felts was the multimedia editor of The Alligator.

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