At this exact time a year ago, I had one big dream in mind: being part of The Alligator.
I read every story published and knew all the names on bylines of stories I admired so much. It seemed so far-fetched to think I could be a part of that world. As a recently declared journalism sophomore, I didn’t feel experienced enough.
But The Alligator believed in me. In December 2020, I received an offer for my first position in staff: Student Government reporter. From there on, my chest filled up with pride every time I made a call or sent an email for an interview introducing myself as “I am Carolina Ilvento, a reporter for The Alligator.”
And to this day, it still does.
It has only been a year, but The Alligator has since become my life. I’ve walked out of class for interviews, sneaked out of personal events to address final edits on my phone and even crashed a club to cover an election — yup, we reporters do it all.
Those watching from outside may see The Alligator as an extracurricular activity we do. But ask anybody in staff, and you’ll hear it is a 24/7 commitment. It can be exhausting and draining. But we all do it day after day with a common motivation: passion for journalism and the paper.
As a desk editor, I forced my reporters to sleep. Sounds weird, I know. What type of job gets staff working after hours voluntarily? The Alligator does. It didn’t matter if it was a Friday night — if big news broke in the university. I knew I could count on the reporters to cover it. And if one of them was not available, another had their back.
That’s the thing about The Alligator — we care so much for the paper that covering stories is so instinctive that we may forget to sleep. To my uni team girls: you make me proud every day.
After around 50 Sundays of print nights in this paper, I am wrapping up my time as one of three leading this incredible newsroom. I wasn’t close to the other two-thirds of my Big 3 at first, but now they are the first to be notified of any new development in my life.
Whenever one of us had an off day, the others would provide words of comfort.
“That is why there are three of us.”
To Steven and Kristin, thank you for existing — I could not imagine this paper without you.
Leaving this paper now feels like letting go of a part of me. As a managing editor, I dragged editing (and not sleeping) Sunday nights. But even on nights we wrapped up the paper early, I found myself wanting to stay late in the office just to talk. Today, I am grateful for the lost hours of sleep.
Now that I realize I will no longer be walking into the office and filling a paper every week, I feel empty. Maybe I don’t need to sleep. Can I stay a bit longer?
While it does hurt me to walk away from this paper, I know I will always keep it with me. Once in The Alligator, we are indeed in it for life. We reserve a spot in the closet with a foot-tall pile of old papers and fill our bios with a proud @TheAlligator years after leaving the paper. I will do no other than keep the legacy.
To all former and future reporters, editors and staff members: If I can ever be a resource, please call, mostly if it is a Sunday night — I will be thinking of the paper anyway.
So what do you all, non-Alligator lunatics, do on Sundays?
Carolina Ilvento was the Digital Managing Editor.
Carolina is a second-year journalism major with a minor in sustainability. In the past, she covered stories and events for WUFT, and she is now reporting on Student Government for The Alligator. Carolina loves to do yoga and go to the beach whenever she isn't writing.