Picture this: A nervous, prospective UT student clogging the entrance to the information fair whose mother is trying to talk to all the students at the booths for her.
I didn’t even want to go to the fair. I wanted to go to orientation and get home as soon as possible. Being in a new area with so many people was really nerve-wracking.
I didn’t expect to have the Independent Collegian catch my eye. In the midst of all the “organized” chaos, colorful tri-fold boards and overly peppy students, two students were passing out newspapers.
I walked up to them (my mom still talking to the lacrosse team) and asked them if they were hiring. I had always done yearbook or the student newspaper at my high school and didn’t want to stop quite yet. I filled out my application for the paper before I even filled out my scholarship forms.
I joined as a staff photographer in August 2017, and by November, I had made my way up to the director of photography position. Not only was I able to continue my photography when my major in nursing didn’t allow me to, but I had some amazing experiences as well.
I traveled with our football team as we made our way to the MAC Championship at Ford Field and had the opportunity to go to the Dollar General Bowl last year (which I wasn’t able to make).
I sat courtside to photograph our basketball and volleyball games, have been
right up to the dugout for baseball and even went to photograph a table tennis tournament.
I’ve met and had conversations with University President Sharon Gaber, countless professors and have been able to connect with the student body in ways I wouldn’t otherwise have been able to.
Although the IC has given me some amazing experiences, it gave me even better friends. Being a healthcare major, I haven’t received much experience outside of STEM, yet I’ve always wanted to continue doing things that traditional humanities students do.
The Independent Collegian gave me the space to do that and not feel any different from anyone else.
My friends and fellow IC staff are all headstrong, goal-oriented people. They’re the kind of people I could call at any time during the day if I need a second opinion and they’d give their honest one.
They’re committed to education, experiences and each other.
The newsroom taught me more about myself than anything else at UT.
It’s shown me how to be confident in the content I produce, be proud of my work and how to communicate effectively with people who have differing opinions.
It’s shown me the kind of person I want to be through my friends’ and coworkers’ hard work and dedication.
To anyone who sees our paper on the racks—pick one up. We work hard and pour our lives into it.
To anyone who would even consider being a part of student journalism—do it. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done.
I’m no longer that shy senior in high school who hid behind her mom. I’m the student helping pass out those papers at events, hoping to find those who are just like I used to be.
Meagan O'Hara is a second-year nursing major.