I will never forget my first day at The New Paltz Oracle. I was nervous about joining because I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I remember approaching Kristen Warfield after our public speaking class during the fall of 2014. I asked her how I could get involved with the paper and she gave me Andrew Lief’s email address, the then-Editor-in-Chief. I went back to my dorm room in Bouton Hall and sent him an email asking if any positions were open.
As fate would have it, a features copy editor had left the paper mere days before, and a day later, I walked into the Oracle office and met Lief himself. I will never forget what Lief said to me that day in November 2014, and since then, I have told just about anyone who has joined the staff of The Oracle the same message: “Joining The Oracle is the best thing you could do for yourself as a journalism student.”
Boy, was Lief right. Two-and-a-half years later and I can’t believe my journey with this paper is already coming to a close. Of all the things I have done during my time at SUNY New Paltz, The Oracle has meant the most to me. It has influenced me, taught me new tricks and I am forever grateful that I joined this staff. I would be a different person without this paper. I am a more confident, independent and headstrong person because I worked here. I am a better writer, copy editor and reporter than I could’ve ever dreamed of being had it not been for this orange clusterfuck of a room that I’ve practically lived in these past couple of years. I’ve cherished every moment I’ve spent in this office: through the stress, the tears, the late nights, the laughs and the frequent naps on the Copy Couch™. So without further ado, here are my proper thank you’s.
Andrew Lief: My first Oracle EIC. Thank you for letting me join staff and convincing me it was the best decision I could have made for myself. It really was, and I can’t express enough how appreciative I am for the time I’ve spent here.
Abbott & Jen: Thank you for all of your help and guidance my first year on staff. Abbott, I remember visiting The Poughkeepsie Journal the day of my first production night, not knowing who you were and hearing Kristen refer to you as a “spitfire.” That word has never described someone so well. You are driven and determined and one of the best news nugs that ever was. Jen, I was blessed to have you as my first features editor, and I’m so glad that two years later I’ve been living the features life to the fullest. The encouragement you gave me then has certainly helped me in this role.
Melissa: Thank you for helping me with InDesign my first semester as features editor. I honestly couldn’t have done it without you. Thanks for all the good tunes and Ronkonkoma-bound LIRR Snapchats.
Kristen: I have always appreciated your guidance, your critique and your work. You are so good at what you do — it’s effortless. Thank you for bringing Ruby into the office and making my day. You’re the best poodle mom and were one of the best EICs this paper has seen. You’re destined for greatness and I can’t wait to see all the work you continue to do.
Nate: Thank you for donating your mattress to me after graduating. It has served me well, and will continue on as an Oracle heirloom as I pass it down to none other than future features copy editor Brandon Doerrer. You were my first friend on staff and I don’t take that lightly. We were features nugs together and you showed me the ropes. You’ve helped me with more than you know, so thank you for literally everything.
Natalie & Brandon: I’m so happy you both joined staff, and I can’t wait to see where the wonderful world of features will take the both of you. Brandon, the Oracle mattress will soon be yours. And if you ever need some guidance in features, Bri can be your guru. Natalie, you are but a young grasshopper. You have so much time left on this paper, so cherish every minute of it.
Meg: You are as pure and wonderful as they come. The future of the paper will one day be in your hands, but for now you’ll have the news section to rule, and I have no doubt that you will kick lots of ass and take lots of names and learn more than you can even begin to fathom in the process. Like Natalie, relish your time on the paper. There is so much to experience and learn from being on staff.
Rachael: You do more than any person I’ve ever met. I don’t know how you do it but I give you such credit. You have the best time management skills of anyone I’ve ever known, and a tenacious drive that will allow you to do unbelievable things. You, Mel, Meg and Chris will create a newsy powerhouse next semester. And it will be epic.
Rob: “Freaxxx” will never get old. Never stop being freaky ever. Your passion and kindness will take you places, and your ability to liven up a room will take you even further. I hope we get to throw some ‘bows together in the near future.
Michael & Jackson: You two are some of the best boys I’ve ever known and I’m blessed to call you my friends as well as my colleagues. Michael, we joined The Oracle on the same night as newbie nugs. You have reassured and supported me more than you may realize, but I thank you for your genuine goodness. Jackson, your music reviews cannot be topped. Opinion pieces are your calling card. I wish I could be at the Village Grind just to serve you two your morning cup of joe when you live above there next year, but just pretend whoever is your barista is still me. I’ll be there in spirit.
Jeannette: You have done so much for features and A&E, it’s incomparable. You have such talent — an eye for all that is beautiful in the world. You could make literal trash look beautiful. I can’t wait to see your photos in museums and magazines.
Anthony: I am passing over my baton to you, and I am so excited to see where you take the features section. Let this section take you to all of the weirdest and most interesting nooks and crannies of New Paltz. That’s where the heart of features lies.
Erica: I have seen such growth in your writing since you joined staff, probably more than anyone. I loved having you as a features copy editor last semester, but I always knew you were destined for A&E. You should be immensely proud of everything you’ve done here.
Jess Napp: You have been sorely missed this semester. Your voice shines through in your work, and I’ve appreciated all the help you have ever given me, from Lit of J to articles I’ve written for the paper. We’ll always have newspaper blackouts and Huckleberry to fall back on.
Sam: You are the epitome of raw talent. You know what your niche is and you know exactly where your best talents lie, and that is something I have always admired you for. I know you will only put out the best work at your internship this summer because you slay the game in everything you do. I can’t wait to see what the world has in store for you.
Chris & Mel: Some of the best damn reporters on staff. I admire both of you and your drives to take your stories to their furthest potentials. Some weird things happen in the office when no one else is around, and the late nights spent here with you two and Jack are some of my favorite memories from this semester. Chris, I’m so grateful to have had you as a features copy editor. Thank you for your help, your reliability and for being a pal. PS: thanks for the surprise chocolate milk. Mel, our late night walks back to the third floor of Bouton after 2014-15 production nights will not be easily forgotten. You are fierce, talented and don’t allow anything to get in your way, and that’s admirable.
Briana: I don’t mean to be melodramatic but when you got up to do your speech at elections this semester, I felt like I could have cried. I’m so proud of you and all of the work you’ve done during your time at The Oracle. The features section will certainly miss you, but A&E is all yours come next semester. I have no doubt in my mind that you are going to be amazing, and I’m so sad that I won’t be here to see you in full blossom.
Jack: Oddly enough, I’m grateful for Cznarty’s Digital Storytelling class because it brought us together. Being able to work together at The Oracle has been one of the greatest joys of my life. You’ve helped me learn, grow and get outside of my comfort zone. You push me to my limits and I’m lucky I get to love you. This paper would not be the same if it weren’t for you. I wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t for you.
Thank you to all of my professors in the J department that have pushed me, motivated me, been there for me and believed in me. My current Oracle staff, one more gracious thank you for being my colleagues, my editors, oftentimes my support system, and most importantly, my friends. I love you all and will miss you all. The Oracle office will always be home. But in the meantime, I guess I’ll be in France. Skype me, visit, but until then — à la prochaine.
This column first appeared in The New Paltz Oracle on May 11, 2017.