Senior Send-Off 2024: Michael Harrington

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When I began my academic journey at the University of Indianapolis, I lacked direction but recognized my passion for writing. Nearly two years ago, I was a nervous freshman in my academic advisor’s office wondering what an “applied” course was and which one would align with my interests. It was then that my advisor highlighted how my writing skills could benefit COMM 120—also known as The Reflector. Eighteen months later, I have assumed two roles, garnered awards and penned numerous articles.

In my initial year with The Reflector, I began as a business manager, reaching out to local businesses for advertising space in the paper and I successfully secured one from UIndy Marketing for UIndy Day in April 2023. As a business manager, I learned the importance of being persistent, yet polite. During my subsequent and concluding year at UIndy, I assumed the role of the newspaper’s feature editor.

Serving as the feature editor for The Reflector has been a dream come true. I can focus on all-things-students, culture and Indianapolis. Feature editor has to be one of the most fulfilling roles that I have ever taken—not only do I get to have fun with the story ideas I come up with, but I also get to improve my skills in graphic design and journalism. While writing multiple stories and designing a page every two weeks is tedious, knowing the impact of my writing makes it worth it. This is what keeps me passionate about journalism. I could have 100 stories to write, but seeing just one reader pick up the paper is what keeps me going.

To me, The Reflector became more than a mere college course; it became a family. Despite our professional obligations, I have never witnessed a group bond as tightly as the staff of the paper has. As a commuter student, I anticipated difficulty in making friends at UIndy. However, to my surprise, I eventually came to regard my fellow editors as some of my closest companions. There were moments last year when I questioned my continued commitment to The Reflector. Yet, upon entering ESCH 333 and seeing the familiar faces of my peers, I was reminded of the true reason I remained: friendship.

During my time at The Reflector, I have been fortunate to have friends who played pivotal roles in shaping my journalistic skills. Hannah Hadley stands out as the first among them, instilling in me a relentless drive for improvement. Her edits on my stories were always accompanied by clear explanations, even when she deemed a piece “perfect.” Mia Lehmkuhl also left a huge mark on my writing journey. Despite constantly joking with each other, Mia readily offered her assistance whenever I needed it. I vividly remember one evening in the library when she dedicated at least two hours to reviewing my work, offering valuable suggestions for enhancing it. Lastly, Breanna Emmett introduced me to the realm of Adobe Illustrator. Before last semester, graphic design was scary to me, but with Breanna’s guidance and encouragement, I ended up making graphics for almost every issue.

Earlier this year, my “Pink Friday 2” review (which everyone should read), won third place in the Entertainment Column/Review Online category at the 2024 Indiana Collegiate Press Association Contest. Additionally, My New General Education Requirements graphic also won third place in the Informational Graphic category at the 2024 ICPA contest. Surprisingly, my sports story “Alumna Payton Romig becomes UIndy’s Women’s Lacross’s new head coach” was a Society of Professional Journalists finalist. More recently, my review of “COWBOY CARTER” has gone viral on X (formerly Twitter), something I never would have thought I would live to see.After graduation, I plan to move to New York and work for either a public relations agency or a newspaper. My dream is to get into graphic design, write or pursue social media management. I want to thank many people for everything they have done for me. I want to thank my parents for supporting all my work, Mia for encouraging me to take on harder assignments and Professor Jeanne Criswell for being such a supportive adviser and mentor in copyediting. I often say I have no regrets, but the only thing I regret about graduating early is cutting my time on The Reflector short. My advice for anyone reading is to enjoy what you have while you have it and to enjoy every moment—despite how tough things may seem.

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