By TESS SHEETS, BIANCA LOPEZ, & JULIA ALBINI
I began this year writing you, reader, telling you to rip up our Orientation magazine. I told you to dog-ear pages, pull out the ones that interested you. I told you to scribble notes on my magazine. I told you to use it as your guide to surviving this past year at UT. I kindly ask you to just read the stories and admire the pretty photos this time around. I worked really hard on this Health and Fitness magazine and I know some of you already got a little too carried away with trashing a certain Minaret this year.
Without sounding too cheesy, The Minaret truly shaped my entire college experience. I changed my major and career aspirations because I found my passion in journalism after the first month of writing for this paper. More than the job itself, though, I found my people in The Minaret. Journalism, in my own personal opinion, holds the most creative, hilarious, reliable and trustworthy individuals. There aren’t many of us, we have to stick together. The group of journalists on my staff this year have become my family, and like a family, we all play roles that are vital to the overall dynamic of the disfunctionalness that glues us together.
For example, Bianca is our goofy mom who we’re kind of embarrassed by sometimes because she gets overly excited about the smallest aspects of our day, but is incredibly supportive, organized and always makes sure the bills get paid. John is the older brother who is generally embarrassed by the rest of the family, but still laughs at our lame jokes because he loves us. Arden and Liz are the set of twin sisters that have polar opposite personalities (think Tia and Tamara on Sister Sister), but seem to have twin telekinesis that make the dynamic work. This opposites attract situation keeps them balanced. Carissa is the fun cousin who is always down to get weird in public, i.e. taking pictures of raw steak in the back of Publix at 9 p.m. while wearing lunch lady hair nets. Andrew is the cool uncle who’s always trendy and chilled out. You go to him to talk about life when your parents just don’t get it. Ivy is the scatterbrained younger sis who’s too busy reading 12 books to worry about your problems. Regina is the crazy aunt who beats to the sound of her own drum and comes into town just to tell us about her ridiculous adventures hopping on yachts and dating Drew from the Chainsmokers. Katelyn is the calm, level-headed sister that keeps the family running semi-functionally. She calls people out on their B.S., but does it out of love.
Finally, I like to think of myself of The Minaret dad. I am self-realized enough to admit I dance like a middle-aged man with a knee replacement (a lot of fist pumping) and my jokes are generally followed by a pity chuckle or crickets. However, I am incredibly proud of my family and hope I have passed down my wisdom to the next generation Mina-fam.
I cannot believe that I am writing this. I remember reading the senior send-offs as a freshman thinking my time would never come. As I type, I am sitting at one of my last RA duty shifts. That alone is bittersweet, but even worse is the fact that I’m essentially crafting my resignation, my goodbye from The Minaret.
To you, The Minaret is a thing to flip through (or scan through online), maybe it’s just the lining to your cat’s litter box (I’ve been told it’s good for that). Maybe The Minaret covered your event or organization, maybe you love it, maybe you don’t. While many students may feel this paper had no effect on them, it has encapsulated the most cherished moments of my college career.
My closest friends all got used to my most popular excuse for not having time to hang out: “deadline.”
I sat in my office on the second floor of Vaughn with my fellow editors as the fate of the nation was announced in the form of the 2016 election. I ran through the streets of Atlanta in Halloween costumes with the “Mina-fam” during a newspaper conference. I’ve cried in my office, I’ve spent nights sleeping on the couch in my office, I’ve studied for the LSAT in my office, I’ve spent way too much time in my office. I’m not sure I’m ready to turn over my key and no longer get to call it “my office.”
The time has come to pass on the reins and graduate. The thing everyone tells you about graduating a year early (but you never listen to) is that it’s the worst decision you can make. I was told to make college last. However, I honestly feel as though I’ve lived a thousand lives in my three years. I’ve been perfectly responsible and horribly irresponsible. I’ve done all that I can to make the paper something I’m truly proud of and I feel fulfilled.
This newspaper has given me opportunities that I don’t think I could receive anywhere else. From sending me to big name concerts for coverage to introducing me to members of the campus community outside of my social circle. To The Minaret, we were just another generation of editors in a series of 83 editorial boards since 1933. To me, The Minaret was a stress-inducing, crazy-lovable family.
I can only hope that the legacy Tess and I strived to build upon can continue to grow and become better than it has ever been.
Thank you, to my Mina-family for constantly inspiring me. We did it!
I walked into my first Minaret meeting my sophomore year confident, eager and slightly overwhelmed. Pandemonium broke lose as writers and photographers scattered across the room to exchange laptops in the midst of meeting deadlines, and running endless fact checks. Our meeting that night introduced me to the Minaret in its most raw and candid form. Needless to say, nothing changed from then to now.
I started out as a writer and enjoyed the chaos of scheduling interviews, as many journalists do. It wasn’t until my junior year that I was persuaded by The Minaret’s advisor at the time to get involved with photography to carry out a rather unestablished hobby. By the time senior year rolled around I became the Minaret’s newest photo editor.
My last year working for the Minaret carried out very similar to the years prior. I was constantly stressed, exhausted, and taking on way too many stories a week than I’d ever imagined. Despite the mayhem, these past two semesters taught me to keep my head high and to work hard because determination always pays off in the long run.
I walk away from The Minaret with my heart heavy knowing this is the last student publication I will ever partake in, but blissful looking back at all the experiences I’ve been exposed to along the way.
Thank you to our outstanding staff for making these last two years unforgettable.