The first time I wrote for The Mirror was the second week of my freshman fall in 2011. Another new writer — hi Sara — and I foolishly volunteered to take on the centerfold as our first story ever. I had never written for a newspaper before. I dabbled in creative writing and had a passion for Emerson. But I was in no way prepared to take on what seemed to me at the time to be the most important story I could ever write. The pitch? A full-blown survey about political climate on campus. Not only did I know nothing about journalism, interviewing or surveying, but I was also woefully uninformed about politics — having come from an extremely liberal city where supporting George Bush was akin to murder and finding a real Republican was like encountering a unicorn. The rigorous training I received from the ’12 editors was well-guided but ultimately useless as I wandered FoCo alone attempting to get football players to answer questions about abortion. As my writers know, I subsequently asked a football player that I’d hooked up with to take the survey, figuring he’d take pity on me. Instead, he pretended like he didn’t know who I was (another first), and I slunk back to the light side of FoCo with my tail between my legs, having lost both my dignity and 30-plus survey takers.
Eventually, by trolling the Hinman line and gathering the courage to actually communicate with upperclassmen, we had enough interviews and surveys to begin writing. The political views we received were diverse and surprising — I had never met an evolutionist before, or even considered the reality that Tea Party Republicans exist in the wild. My second week at Dartmouth opened my eyes to the diversity of our campus and the challenges of communicating effectively with complete strangers. Despite the awkwardness, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. The skills I’ve learned from my time at The Dartmouth are invaluable — from cold-calling professors at 11 p.m. to interviewing complete strangers about their sexual habits — I have become a better writer, editor, critical thinker and person during my time at this organization. As I write this bittersweet final editor’s note, reflecting on what aspects of my Dartmouth career shaped me most significantly, I’m recognizing how hard it is to say goodbye to something you’ve spent three years working on. The beauty of The Dartmouth, and The Mirror, is their timelessness — they will only continue to thrive and grow just as I will.