I remember the first time I walked into a Cougar Chronicle staff meeting. It was September 2019, my first semester at CSUSM after transferring from Palomar College. I had never been on a newspaper staff in high school or college, but I thought I would give it a try.
Although it seemed a bit daunting at first to be the new person who didn’t know a thing about writing for the newspaper, everyone was very welcoming and kind.
That same day, I signed up to write my very first story for The Cougar Chronicle: a 100-word book review. I can’t explain how proud I felt to see my name in print for the first time, even though it was just a short article and even though my name had been spelled incorrectly.
I continued to write regularly for The Cougar Chronicle that first semester, and before long, I was promoted to arts & entertainment editor. By winter break, I had become certain that I wanted to pursue journalism as a career.
I am a literature & writing major, and before joining The Cougar Chronicle, I had no clue which career I wanted to go into. I didn’t want to be a teacher; I didn’t want to be a creative writer; I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Now I knew.
In spring 2020, I applied for, and was selected to be, the 2020-2021 editor-in-chief, but little did I know about the unique challenges that I would have to navigate overseeing a publication during COVID-19.
From struggling to recruit new staff to dealing with declining advertising sales, we’ve certainly faced our fair share of difficulties.
There have been other losses as well. For one thing, I never got to use the editor-in-chief office in our newsroom. This year’s staff members never got to see each other in person, which means that our camaraderie wasn’t as strong as in a normal year. We also didn’t get to have our traditional end-of-year staff party where we usually celebrate our graduating staff and enjoy a meal together.
Our new staff members didn’t get to see their name in print for the first story they wrote for The Cougar Chronicle.
In the grand scheme of things, these losses aren’t a huge deal. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have some regrets or a sense of disappointment, even about these relatively minor things.
At the same time, my overwhelming sensation as my time as editor-in-chief draws to a close isn’t regret — it’s gratitude.
I’m grateful that being a part of The Cougar Chronicle has given me clarity in my career goals. I’m grateful that covering campus stories made me feel connected to CSUSM despite not being on campus. I’m grateful that being editor-in-chief has given me more confidence in my leadership abilities.
More than anything, I am incredibly appreciative of and inspired by my staff this academic year.
To my staff, I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the great work that you have done for our newspaper. I know this year has been difficult. The fact that we have pushed on to continue covering our campus, even improving our work in many areas, is wonderful to see.
You didn’t have to be a part of our team; you are here because you chose to, and for that I am thankful.
I want to especially thank our faculty advisor, Kent Davy, who is a tremendous resource to our staff, and a mentor to me. Thank you so much for your dedication and kindness.
I will miss writing for The Cougar Chronicle. When I leave, I know I will leave a small part of myself behind. But I am confident that the lessons I have learned from this newspaper will endure and serve me well in the future.
To me, The Cougar Chronicle was the best part of studying at CSUSM. I’m thankful for all the newspaper has given me, and excited to see where it goes in the future.
Anneliese Esparza is a senior literature and writing studies major serving as The Cougar Chronicle’s Editor-in-Chief. She also freelances for local publications. After graduation, she hopes to become a reporter (and eventually an editor) for a mid-size local newspaper. In her free time, Anneliese enjoys playing piano, reading, spending time with her family and hanging out with her three cats. Twitter handle: @a__esparza