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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

I’m not going to sugarcoat it: walking into The Alligator for the first time was terrifying.

When I received a phone call offering me the Santa Fe College reporter position, I was beyond thrilled — and simultaneously panicking. The only things I could offer the newsroom was a hardly passing Reporting grade and a bad case of imposter syndrome. I couldn’t believe the “Big Three” editors wanted me on staff. What did I have to offer them?

So if you would’ve told me then I’d be here five semesters later as editor in chief, I’d be floored. 

My first semester here was a classic ‘sink or swim’ moment. (I now have found out everyone pretty much feels this way.) I didn’t have time to compare myself to the more experienced staff members surrounding me because well, I didn’t even have time to think. Thoughts about getting sources and perfecting my AP Style skills replaced any feelings of being the lowest on the totem pole.

Then slowly but surely, coming into the office on Sundays began to feel like one of the best parts of my week, and not a chore. Waiting hours for a copy call or getting my first drafts edited to shreds didn’t feel as bad once I got to know the people on staff, and later became friends with.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying my time here has been perfect. The thing about journalism, especially student journalism, is that it's cutthroat. It’s almost too easy to forgo a friendship for a position or because that person is now your boss. The Alligator is no exception to this.

And if you want to know how people really feel about you, apply for editor in chief. 

So asking yourself “Why should I join The Alligator” might come with loaded answers. I could go on about how it is the best place to work in Florida as a student if you want to seriously pursue journalism (it is) or the neverending impressive bylines you will walk away with. But my answer is simple. The people inside the decrepit building off Southwest 13th are some of the greatest people I’ve ever met (cheesy albeit true).

To my staff this semester and every staff I've been lucky to be on: thank you. 

To Aidan Bush and Jackson Castellano, without you two I wouldn't have been able to do this job. Honestly, without you two I wouldn’t have wanted this job. Even during the print nights we knew would lead to dead-silent drives home, you two still made it fun. Long live the best Big Three! Drake wishes he were us. 

To Jiselle Lee and Fall 2022 Uni Desk, thank you for not only being my first true friends at The Alligator, but for showing me how fun the office can be. I kept coming back every semester because of you all. I can say without a doubt that our friendships aren’t limited to just working together. 

At the start of this semester many people asked me why I would give up my final semester of college in exchange for budgeting a paper every week and waking up to 20 missed texts about breaking news every day. My answers varied to this question, but I can confidently tell you now the real answer was that I wasn’t ready to leave. But I know when I walk away a final time, I’ll leave with no regrets.

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So why join The Alligator? Well, I’ve realized joining this newsroom can be scary, even hard, but leaving it is much worse. 

I hope my journalism career outlives The Alligator couch.

Claire Grunewald was the Spring 2024 Editor in Chief.

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Claire Grunewald

Claire Grunewald is a fourth-year journalism major and the Spring 2024 Editor In Chief of The Alligator. In her free time, she likes to go to concerts and attempt to meet her Goodreads reading goal. 

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