When I walked into The Daily’s newsroom as a scared, wide-eyed first-year, I was looking for a college publication to join, and nights to spend making a newspaper. As someone who didn’t have a paper in high school, the idea of putting one out five days a week was both thrilling and terrifying in equal measure.
The first story I got sent to cover was about the city’s parks, which were being evaluated with letter grades. I was supposed to find out what residents thought about them, so I walked through two parks next to campus, interrupting people’s days and awkwardly trying to get their attention. I was so nervous, and I was pretty sure they could tell, and when I got back to my dorm I was convinced I wasn’t cut out for any of this.
When I walked out of The Daily’s newsroom three-and-a-half years later on my last night as a staffer, I left with so much more than I’d bargained for. In the time I spent on the third floor of Norris, I got a crash course in journalism (and probably life too) that I couldn’t have gotten in any lecture hall or seminar room on campus.
Anyone who knows me knows that my time at The Daily was shaped by long nights in the newsroom and equally long nights at the Evanston Civic Center. It was a three-year enrollment in Local Government 101 that showed me just how government works — and sometimes doesn’t — and how much people care about the wellbeing of their cities and want to help shape their future.
Evanstonians are so passionate about their city and making it better for everyone, and we Northwestern students get to see a slice of that during the four years we spend on campus. From the bike lanes down Sheridan and new developments downtown to the countless less visible programs and initiatives that were implemented during my time at The Daily, I’ve witnessed Evanston residents show up for their city time and time again.
As I wrote more for The Daily, I got less scared of asking questions and more confident in myself, both as a writer and as a person. The Daily was a place where I got to learn and grow with people who were supportive and just as passionate about making a newspaper as I was. Sure, I’m grateful for the fact that I get more sleep now that I’m not in the newsroom four nights a week, but I wouldn’t trade those late nights and experiences for anything.
The Daily isn’t perfect, and neither is Evanston, but in my time here, I watched so many staffers and residents work tirelessly to make both more equitable and inclusive. The Daily is in such capable hands, and I can’t wait to watch it grow even further in the next four years.
At the end of May, I moved to California to start a job in local news. As I get to know my new city, I find myself thinking about Evanston every day, and wanting to hold people here up to that same standard of involvement. That’s probably a futile task, but it’s a testament to Evanston and what makes it so special.