Senior Send-Off 2024: Olivia Cameron

Published: Last Updated on

I have never been what you might call a “social butterfly.” Throughout my childhood, I struggled to find a group to belong to. Being shy, anxious and generally uninterested in sports or clubs did not help. It was not until my junior year of high school that I found somewhere that I fit in and thrived: the staff of the literary magazine. For the first time, I knew what it was like to not only be part of a group, but to be passionate about a project. When my senior year was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic, I worried that I would not find that again. I never expected that a college newspaper would be what filled that void.

My first semester of college was definitely not how I pictured it. All of my classes were online, which meant I had moved to Indianapolis just to sit in my apartment on Zoom. I was bored, lonely and unhappy. The only exciting thing was my “Applied Journalism” class, where I got to write articles that would be published in The Reflector. Being a staff writer gave me a purpose and the opportunity to work with others during a time of isolation. And in my second semester, I got to be a part of something that would become very special to me: Production Fridays. While everything was still being done virtually, I enjoyed getting to know the other staff members and participating in the editing process. At the time, the game “Among Us” was popular, so I have very fond memories of playing that with the group. During this time I also worked as the paper’s business manager, the first of many positions I would go on to have. 

I spent my sophomore year (which was finally in-person) as the opinion editor, a job I thoroughly enjoyed. This year was very formative in many ways; I formed significant friendships with other staff members, and accepted that this was where I was meant to be. To be honest, I did not expect to stay on The Reflector my entire college career. As a creative and professional writing major, I was not looking to become a journalist, and figured that eventually I would move on to another extracurricular more suited to those interests. However, I realized that the experience I was gaining in journalism was going to benefit me in any career. My writing abilities, social skills and leadership only got stronger with every semester. 

Junior year was historic—well, for me it was. I served as managing editor with one of my best friends, Reflector alumna Kassandra Darnell, as editor-in-chief. Even though it was often stressful and draining, being managing editor was one of the most significant experiences of my life thus far. I take great pride in what our staff accomplished that year—including recruiting amazingly talented editors who are still on staff today, and being named the 2023 Division II Newspaper of the Year by the Indiana Collegiate Press Association (a humble brag).

I took a break from The Reflector last semester to focus on my capstone project for my English major. While the break was definitely needed, I found myself missing being on staff more than I ever expected to. For the past three years, the paper had always been there. I missed going to Production Fridays and being goofy with my friends. I missed editing. I missed writing articles. I missed all the things that I previously complained about, like making my e-portfolio and having editorial meetings. I am thankful that the online editor position was open for me when I returned at the beginning of this semester, my last at both UIndy and The Reflector.

Growing up, I feared being in any sort of leadership position. I was always so scared of doing a bad job and disappointing people. Being on The Reflector showed me that I was more capable than I ever believed I could be. When I started, I thought I would never get used to interviewing strangers or having so many people read my writing. I never expected to make graphics. I never expected to win awards. In short, I discovered my potential in the newsroom.

I must thank Professor Jeanne Criswell for inviting me to join the paper when I visited UIndy back in my senior year of high school. She has been a kind, supportive and knowledgeable advisor to every single one of her students; I feel blessed to have been on staff before her retirement.Lastly, I want to express my gratitude to everyone who has been on staff with me since my freshman year. I have met some of my favorite people in the world because of The Reflector. Despite how harsh my editing may make me seem, I truly do hope for the best for all of you.

Recommended for You