Photo contributed by Leah Crowley

The first time I ever showed my dad, a video journalist, a reporter package I wrote, shot and edited, he looked at me and said, “Did you honestly think I’d say this was good?”
Sixteen-year-old me burst into tears and said, “Yes!”

To my dad’s credit, he has no recollection of this incident and has apologized profusely for his previous lack of patience. When I sent him my most recent package, he texted me saying, “F**king brilliant.”

My vast improvement over the course of five years is entirely thanks to my time at the Good Five Cent Cigar. This student-run newspaper afforded me the opportunities to pitch stories, create reporter packages, manage a team and work in a state-of-the-art broadcast studio all while covering stories that meant a lot to the community. 

While not all my stories were incredibly impactful (I don’t recommend checking out my first COVID-19 related package that ran with an article titled “Forget coronavirus, what about the flu?”), there are some stories that I am incredibly proud of; specifically the work I did covering URI’s history with slavery and colonization.

When I started doing stories on how the University of Rhode Island sits on the ancestral homelands of the Narragansett people, with the exception of a few passionate professors, that hidden history was not being recognized. Over a year after my first package on the subject, I was covering the establishment of a new scholarship for Narragansett students attending URI. 

Being able to follow the advocates on this journey was the highlight of my career at the Cigar, and I hope that whoever reads this column will take the time to check out the newscasts from 8/2/20, 10/22/20 and 10/20/21 to learn more. 

At the Cigar, I served as newscast editor for two years. Elected to the position as a freshman, I was scared to take on the role, especially considering the newscast had been largely dormant as the renovated studio was just reopening. 

Without the guidance of my predecessor Kate Rogerson and upperclassmen, including Ian Weiner, Theresa Brown, Grace DeSanti and Julia Moro, I would not have been able to take on the role.

To my peers, friends and most importantly my editor-in-chief and podcast co-host Kate LeBlanc, thank you for keeping me sane. One more semester to go people!

I only hope that in my time as newscast editor, I was able to provide some semblance of good guidance to my successors as well. 

To Imani Fleming and Aniekan Okon, the once-freshmen who stepped up to the scary plate of video journalism, your futures are so bright. Thank you for dealing with this scatterbrained editor. 

Hopefully, we will all meet again in the field soon. 

I’m not a very deep thinker and don’t have any thought-provoking insights to conclude this goodbye column, so instead I’ll plug our little newspaper one more time.

The Cigar is very special. It’s a place where you can learn to improve your journalistic skills and create work you’re proud of, but more importantly, find a group of people who you can truly be yourself around—even if you’re a K-Poper (stan BTS for clear skin). 

As always, stay safe Rhody.