Opinion editor graduates after overlong college career

I’ve written enough columns and editorials during my time at UCA that I’ve nearly run out of things to talk about. However, during that time, I’ve never written a column in first person perspective. Well, now it’s time for everyone to listen to me talk about myself.

After six years of college at UCA, I am finally graduating. When I leave, I won’t be happy or sad, angry or excited. I’ll just be relieved.

After an extended undergraduate career, I’m less sure about what I want to do with my life than ever. A poorly handled relationship, family health issues and personal problems have not helped my progress through school. Pushing away the person I love the most didn’t help either. But throughout any issues, I’ve still enjoyed my time at UCA.

The university gives a lot of support to students, which comes in handy when traditional school is not your thing. The campus is beautiful and has a lot to do, though most students don’t take advantage of it.

The part of my college career I’m most proud of is my time at The Echo. As Opinion Editor, I’ve won several awards for editorial writing. While this won’t help a journalism career much, it has
been a point of pride for me in my time at school. I’ve been the Opinion Editor long enough that most students at UCA have only read The Voice when I’ve written it – though most don’t seem to read it.

From making fraternities and sororities angry to getting mentioned in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, we have tried not to back down from any situation that has presented itself.

UCA administration was also an important part of my career with The Echo. Without its constant, foundation-rocking scandals, I probably wouldn’t have won half the awards I did. Former Presidents Lu Hardin and Allen Meadors both helped my student journalism career immensely by doing especially dumb things. Other administrators have helped throughout the years as well.

Working for The Fountain before it merged with The Echo was also a great experience. Being a part of a news website just getting off the ground was exhilarating and I learned a lot from working there.

I’ve never been a particularly good student, to the frustration of many of my professors. Without the endless patience of Assistant Journalism Professor Donna Lampkin-Stephens, Journalism Lecturer David Keith and Assistant Journalism Professor Polly Walter, I probably would’ve taken even longer to graduate that I have already.

Stephens has served as my adviser for four years and has been my most avid supporter and believed in me when I refused to believe in myself, despite how frustrated she has undoubtedly been at many points throughout the last four years.

David Keith has been far more patient with me than I ever had the right to expect, which is something he shares with Polly Walter.

Jim Lovel was also an important part of my college experience. I enjoyed my time working for him at The Fountain and he has been more of a role model than he will ever know, despite how much I frustrated him. That Lovel is leaving is a tragedy for the journalism department and his brand of teaching will be irreplaceable.

Most of my friends have moved on to successful careers at this point, in and out of journalism. Being unsure that I can or even want to be as successful as any of them is scary, but the chance at being free from school after attending it halfheartedly for 19 years more than makes up for any fear.

It may not seem like I’ve enjoyed my time at school, but I have. I made a lot of friends, loved, lost and all the other things people do when they go to college. I just took a long time to get to the end.

I squandered a lot of time at school. I spent more money than I should have and will have far more debt than if I had graduated on time.

That said, my time in school has taught me more about myself than I ever could have learned otherwise. I will miss this school, but I never want to come back.

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