Senior Send-Off 2024: Anika Yoder

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One of my earliest memories is realizing that I loved writing and realizing that’s what I want to do for the rest of my life. Over time, I might have also thought about being a ballerina… or a private investigator, and, maybe, a toy-making children’s book illustrator. First and foremost, I knew I wanted to write, and I knew that I was good at it. Being able to express myself through writing and having the people I needed around to encourage me meant a lot, and that is how I ended up where I am right now. 

Photo contributed by Anika Yoder

Although I knew I enjoyed writing and I knew it was what I wanted to do for a career, by the time I started high school, I did not have a specific vision for my future; that was until I joined my school’s newspaper. The experience really solidified my decision to pursue journalism because it allowed me to write and learn about a lot of things. I felt my best when I was interviewing and fledging out a piece that I knew people needed to read about. During my junior year in high school, I wrote a piece for a final project about homelessness and camps that were set to be removed in my area. After I sat down with the sources and walked through the camp, I realized that was what I wanted to do with my life, and it set the trajectory for my college career.

 By the time I was set to graduate high school, I committed to the University of Indianapolis and decided on my communication major and my journalism concentration. This was 2020, I had no idea what I was doing  going into my first year on campus, but I decided to join The Reflector since it was the campus newspaper and I figured it was the only way I was going to get any journalism action. I was right. Even though my first year with the paper was all online and I was not given the fullest experience, I wanted to stick it out to the second year so I could figure out how it was going to work in person. After what felt like a couple of semesters of stumbling through the writing process, I felt I was gaining ground. Eventually, by my fourth semester on staff, I moved up from staff writer to an editorial assistant. That job is what I thank for my editing abilities. After two semesters as an EA, our feature editor at the time was graduating a semester early so I decided I would try for the empty spot. I had gained a lot more experience and confidence by then, and landed the job. It taught me my limits as a journalist and how to overcome them by forcing me to problem-solve on the spot. After a semester of being feature editor, the spot for managing editor was open for my senior year. I chose to try for it and I got the position. Semesters of writing and editing had all come to a head at that point, and I think it showed me that I was capable of more than I thought I would have been in my freshman year. My experience on The Reflector pushed me to my limits in more ways than one. Hours spent in production, in the newsroom and editing, and combing over articles were what made me the writer and editor I am today. What really sticks out is the people that helped to encourage me to apply and continue my time at the paper. Winning an award for an in-depth news piece I produced my junior year meant a lot for the work I put into writing. And it was significant not just for that story, but all the stories I spent hours on. If I had not decided to follow through with working on The Reflector as long as I did, I would not have had a lot of the friends I currently have, and I would definitely not be as confident as a writer or journalist. Being able to share what I want to do with my life so early on in my college career was a key component of my development and only cemented for me what I want to do with my life in the future, which is to write for a local publication and inform people about what is going on around them. Overall, I would not trade a lot of my experiences on staff of The Reflector for anything else, and I can not wait to see what else I can do with the field I chose knowing that I made the right decision.

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