Freshman year, I was walking to my first Mirror meeting in the cozy Humanities office when a friend and dance teammate asked where I was off to. The senior told me that working with the student newspaper takes up a lot of time, and on top of dance and choir, I should reconsider adding yet another thing to my semester.
Despite her warning, I continued to the meeting, where I met talented, inspirational journalists, and, despite my better judgment, took my first story — about students’ summer internships.
I had never written a news story before, and the first draft was awful. The variety editor showed me exactly how to structure and word it. Still, the final product had its flaws.
This newspaper is not perfect. As the copy editor responsible for spelling, grammar and quality across all sections, I’ve made my fair share of mistakes. Deepest apologies to any person or activity I’ve cursed with misspellings. My regrets lie with the elusive Oxford commas and the accidental w’s mid-word.
And so, despite best efforts from me, section editors and editor-in-chief Olivia Bertino, errors snake their way into the paper. But the inherent value behind student news outweighs any blips made at 2 a.m. on a Wednesday night, when our editorial team rushes to the printing deadline.
Thanks be to Francis, Rusty and Chip, the snail-slow computers that sponsor everything in these pages. The editorial team’s deepest gratitude goes to professors Janet Blank-Libra and Jeffrey Miller, who teach us, make us laugh and help us when we need it most.
In reality, many quality, important stories have come from the Mirror this year. The news section followed masking and vaccines in the pandemic’s ongoing waves and documented campus renovations. Mirror sports covered huge wins, major players and staffing changes. Variety celebrated the events, personalities and clubs that make Augustana special. And the opinion section debated everything from silly sleeping socks to difficult topics in sustainability. And for one glorious April fools day, our staff brought back the tradition of the Smirror satire issue for the first time in years.
And there will always be our most thoroughly covered issue: dress codes in the weight room.
Personally, I tried my hand at each of these sections. While my decision to join the Mirror has brought 3-hour sleep nights and, yes, spelling errors, it’s been the biggest learning experience of my career as “journalist Jeni,” and it’s been a funnel into meeting some of the most incredible people on campus. If I’ve ever interviewed you for a story, have no doubt that I remember you and your story — you are what makes this university excellent. And even if you’ve never been featured within these pages, you’re integral to this place.
So, I closed my time at this publication with yet another story about summer internships — page 6. I love a full-circle moment. And I urge you to think about the lesson I learned from my first Mirror issue through this one: don’t be afraid to make mistakes trying new things.
Fill up your day with unfamiliar clubs. Join new organizations, share your brilliant ideas and, most importantly, write for the Mirror. Or if writing isn’t fun for you, click around the Mirror Compact in your inbox or pick up our painstakingly made print issues.
Make bold, extra large headline-type mistakes — and learn from them. You won’t regret it.