As I reflect on my four semesters working for Oklahoma Christian’s student newspaper, my mind always teleports back to my first time walking into the Seitsinger newsroom.
“Samantha,” Dr. Philip Patterson said to the blonde girl near the front of the room, “We got a new kid.”
“Hi!” Samantha Nelson responded enthusiastically, “Would you like to write for The Talon?”
I was shocked. I mean, I did not have a choice, right? This was a required course for me to graduate after all. I could have sworn this was merely a class where we learned about writing. Starting with an official publication seemed like a baptism by fire.
Well, I guess I am writing for the school paper now.
For my first semester at the Talon, I was a floating reporter. I was given the stories no one wanted, sent to the outskirts of campus and received the time-consuming, hard-hitting interviews no one else seemed to have time for.
Despite the stress of deadlines and the panic which set in when a source would not get back to me, I thoroughly enjoyed breaking news to the OC campus. While adapting to AP style was a struggle, I now greatly value this style of writing and have used nothing else since.
As the semesters went by, I moved up the ranks. From reporter to Assistant Features Editor, and from there, the Entertainment Editor, I fulfilled my passion for writing about music, movies and other topics of pop culture.
But I will never forget in April of 2022 when Patterson asked to see me in his office. When I walked in to find both him and the current editor-in-chief, Alison Helms, there, I could have sworn I was in for an intervention.
The reality was quite the opposite.
It was at that moment Patterson informed me that he and Alison thought I had what it took to be The Talon’s editor-in-chief for the 2022-2023 school year. While on one hand, I was shocked, on the other, I was sure he had picked the wrong person.
‘Surely he can’t be serious,’ I thought. ‘What about all the other people in my graduating class? Brandon, Evan, Rachel? Why can they not do it?’
Here I was, a transfer kid from a junior college with little-to-no journalism expertise who hated all his grammar classes in high school because it was not one of his strong suits.
Regardless of my opinion of myself, Patterson saw something in me. I eventually accepted the position, albeit reluctantly.
It has now been a year since I was formally named editor-in-chief of The Talon, and I can wholeheartedly say it has been the experience of a lifetime. By teaching some of our younger reporters about journalism, I have been able to see myself grow in the craft. This role has also allowed me to hone my organization and managerial skills to make sure we had content running each day of the week.
When I first entered college back at Oklahoma Baptist in 2019, I was convinced it would not be as fruitful as my time in high school was. I had graduated in a class of only 42, and we were all close with each other. I was determined to get through college as fast as possible and was very hesitant to make friends or branch out.
I left OBU after only one semester and transferred to Oklahoma City Community College next. As a commuter school, I knew I was not going to make any friends there, but the second semester of my freshman year also coincided with the immersion of the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing me to remain remote during my entire OCCC career.
It was not until I came to OC and joined organizations like The Talon that I really came out of my shell and began to thrive in a college landscape. I became more carefree and confident and allowed myself to branch out and make some amazing friends.
To all those who remain unsure of what they want to do in life or during their short time here at OC, do not be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and get involved in the campus community. By exploring new circles, you have the opportunity to be involved in some great organizations and make some lifelong friends.
While I once prayed earnestly for college to be over and done with, I now wish I could slow down the clock just another couple of weeks.
To Dr. Patterson:
I still sit and wonder what you saw in me a year ago when you trusted me with the highest position on your newspaper. While I may not know exactly why you chose me, and while I still may not have seen myself as qualified, I can only be grateful for the immense trust and belief you had in my abilities. It was a tremendous honor to have run The Talon.
To The Editor-In-Chiefs Who Came Before Me:
Samantha Nelson and Alison Helms: Thank you for your amazing examples and advice about running this student newspaper. Both your general advice as well as your writing advice has been valuable beyond comprehension, and I sincerely could not have done this job without you leading the way.
To My Fellow Graduating Staff Members:
Brandon Zepf, Evan Starr, and Rachel Dallalio, you three were in the room the first day this weird transfer kid walked into the door, and you played a huge role in helping me get acclimated and ultimately stick with The Talon. It’s been an absolute honor not only to work with you, but to go to school and just do life with you.
To the Remaining Talon Staff Members:
Meredith Madison, Dickson Ganza, Hannah Stover, Faithanna Olsson and Colby Coker: There’s a lot of potential in this group, and you guys have created some amazing stories throughout this school year. I’ve loved getting to have classes and practicum with you all, and I think you’re going to do amazing things for The Talon and beyond.
To Haley Shanahan:
Thank you for being such a fantastic copy editor and right-hand-woman for the past year. You’ve always been on top of things and have put everything into making sure this paper runs smoothly. You’re going to be the greatest editor-in-chief next year, and I cannot wait to see all the amazing things you do.
Editor-in-Chief, The Talon
Historian/Homecoming Director, Psi Epsilon