A few things have changed for me since I joined The Independent Florida Alligator.
Two years ago, I was a public relations major who couldn’t actually tell you what public relations was. Today, I plan on devoting the rest of my career to what my family members call a dying industry.
“Have you ever thought about marketing?” Aunts and uncles commonly ask me as they shovel spoonfuls of mashed potatoes onto their Thanksgiving plates.
Thankfully, I’ve also gotten a lot better at not caring what other people think.
I felt like a guppy in a sea of sharks walking through Weimer Hall as a freshman journalism major. Many of my classmates were either former high school newspaper editors or had won awards for their writing before hitting puberty.
I had never touched an AP Stylebook.
My crippling self-doubt, coupled with the competitive collegiate environment, led to me changing my major from journalism to public relations. Yet, I couldn't help but continue checking open reporting positions on LinkedIn, circling my cursor around the word “apply.”
I finally gave into my temptations by applying to write for The Alligator's arts and culture section in Spring 2022. I was in shock when I scored an interview and was offered a position.
Each story I've written over the last year and a half has helped me fall deeper in love with journalism and myself, which wouldn’t have been possible without The Alligator.
That being said, what really drove me to fasten my seatbelt for five wild semesters at the best student-run newspaper in the country were the incredible people I took the journey with.
Like most 20-something-year-olds who spend too much time on the internet, I’ve struggled with depression.
There were countless days I’d step into the office feeling hopeless, hoping no one would notice how puffy my eyes were from crying. But my fellow staff members never failed at having me walk back out with a smile.
At times, my responsibilities at the paper were the only reason I’d get out of bed (I’m working on it).
I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t had my fair share of moments when I almost sent a manically crafted “I quit” message to my editors. But despite the post UF Student Government Senate meeting sob sessions and being accused of perpetuating genocide by sources, my heart always pulled me back to The Alligator.
This semester, I had the privilege of being the enterprise editor. I don’t know how I would have survived the last few months without my endlessly talented desk of soldiers — Valentina Sandoval, Jinelle Vazquez, Zachary Carnell, Sophia Bailly and Kylie Williams. These reporters consistently tackled every obstacle they encountered and produced some of the best content I’ve ever seen come through this publication.
Although there were definitely times we got on each other’s nerves, I hold nothing but love and admiration for each of these talented individuals. I am so excited to watch them flourish in their chosen career paths and feel lucky to have been a part of their journeys at The Alligator.
I wouldn’t have even had the confidence to take on a leadership role without the support and guidance of my previous editors: Makiya Seminera, Dazion Prosser, Christian Casale and Aidan Bush. Thank you for editing my stories on Sundays at 10 p.m., listening to my hourslong rants and most of all — always having my back.
If you choose to join The Alligator, be prepared to experience some of the most challenging but rewarding moments of your college career, if not your life. I wouldn't trade my five semesters at the paper for anything (maybe a job offer).
I’m excited to spend the remainder of my college Sundays grocery shopping and watching YouTube in bed as one should. But, a part of me will wish I was cracking jokes that warrant a notes app apology inside The Alligator’s creepy office off 13th Street.
I hope no one ever leaks the semester quote bags.
Amanda Friedman was the Fall 2023 Enterprise Editor at The Independent Florida Alligator.
Amanda Friedman is a senior journalism major and the Enterprise Editor at The Alligator. She previously wrote for the Avenue, Metro and University desks. When she isn't reporting, she loves watching coming-of-age films and listening to Ariana Grande.