Four years later. Here I am, a senior approaching the end. I have spent eight semesters at Brandeis, which means apparently now I have accumulated some sort of wisdom to share. What invaluable lessons have I learned walking up and down Rabb steps for 1,460 days? I can’t tell you that, but I can tell you the most important thing I learned from spending approximately half of those days (more like nights… very long ones) in The Brandeis Hoot’s beloved BMC. But first, some nostalgia.
When I first joined The Hoot as a first-year, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had been “editor-in-chief” of my very small high school newspaper (I use that title lightly because can you really be editor-in-chief if you have a staff of approximately two people?), and I wanted to continue working on a publication; I wanted to be part of a REAL newspaper staff.
What followed were three years of the most extreme spectrum of emotions I have ever experienced: stress, excitement, exhaustion, pride and a myriad of others. I started out as a news writer and then moved up to news editor. At some point during that time, I began going to production nights, the night each week in which the entire staff stays up for however long it takes to put a 16 or 20-page paper together (spoiler: it takes a long time).
Helping to put together a newspaper can be exhausting, but as a spry young underclassman, I enjoyed the adrenaline rush throughout the week of conducting interviews, meeting story deadlines, figuring out what the layout should look like and seeing the paper come to life before my eyes during production nights. As a senior staff member, I have perhaps lost that adrenaline rush. But I still marvel every single production night at the fact that we are able to put together an entire publication in the span of a few hours.
As my sprightly attitude wore off, the near-constant stress of being on the paper began to get to me. I decided to take off my entire junior year to pursue an internship in the fall semester and go abroad in the spring. At the point when I took what I now refer to as my “Hoot hiatus,” I felt worn out by all the newspaper-related stress. I took a break, and when I was asked to come back my senior year as a co-Editor-in-Chief, my first thought was that I couldn’t do it, but I also couldn’t stop thinking about it. I almost felt (as silly as this sounds) like The Hoot was calling me to come back. And I am so glad I did.
My experience at The Hoot mirrors my experience at Brandeis: There are many things about both that have frustrated me during my time here, but there are more things that have been amazing. And the thing that has been the most amazing are the people I have met here, especially the people on The Hoot staff.
You will not find a more dedicated, conscientious, intelligent (and fun!) bunch of people than the students working at The Hoot, especially the staff that I have had the pleasure of working with this year. I am continuously impressed by how hard they work to produce a newspaper that does not give them that much in return. But they continue to do so, running around throughout the week to get every interview they can, being on constant alert for late-breaking stories, writing multiple stories per week, taking photos at any and all events. Not only would these people do anything for the newspaper (even taking a “non-fatal bullet” for The Hoot, as our news editor once boldly and lovingly stated), but they are genuine, kind, funny and excel in various other areas of their lives (because somehow they have the time for that even after all they put in at the paper). They are people that I want to be around and not just because I’m in a club with them.
So, now that I have waxed nostalgic for a bit, you’re probably wondering, what is the lesson I promised at the beginning? Here it is: Push yourself. Do things that are challenging, that are a bit out of your comfort zone. As a first-year, I was the last person who would want to get out of that cozy zone, and it even took a little pushing for me to jump back in as a senior. But do it because no matter what activity you join or class you take or how frustrating it gets, I can guarantee that the people surrounding you will make all those frustrations worth your while. You’ll remember all the fun times you had with them (remember when a dog came into the BMC? Remember when we literally saved the paper??) just as much as you’ll remember the stressful times. The people are one of the most special things about Brandeis, and that is the most important thing The Hoot has shown me. #HootNation forever!