Oh man, do I regret not joining the Cigar earlier in my college career. When studying journalism at the University, I heard talks of this certain student news organization come up. An organization that sounded so intimidating for me, a freshman at the time, that I shied away from joining.
For three straight years I talked myself out of attending a meeting. I’d hype myself up only to knock myself down due to feeling not good enough to join the organization. That I would only let the people who know their craft down. An unconfident journalism major too nervous to realize that the Cigar is there to help members hone in their skills. That there are well-knowledgeable people within the organization who are more than happy to be a helping hand.
Finally, I got the motivation I needed at the end of my junior year. All thanks to the photo editor, Maddie Bataille. We suffered through a project we were working on together which led us to this sewage treatment facility in Providence. There must have been something about spending half a day there that got her thinking, “If this kid can suffer the smell of nasty sewer water while shooting B-roll then I think he’d be a great staff photographer.” I just walked through the nastiest place ever, nothing could scare me off at that point. So when Maddie asked if I wanted to join the Cigar, I jumped at the opportunity without hesitation.
After attending my first meeting, I knew I was missing out the entire time I’ve been at URI. Everyone there is more than welcoming and accepting of whoever steps through those office doors. Needless to say, it was a moment of realization for me. I really wondered what I was so nervous about after leaving that meeting. All this built up hesitation and doubt, for what? I had so many awesome opportunities that I never thought I’d be able to experience because of the Cigar. For instance, I attended my first ever URI basketball game sitting on the court during Archie Miller’s first game as coach because of my position as staff photographer. A clear win for me, not so much for our team though that night.
The reason I decided to share all this and write a goodbye column is to inspire others who have doubts during their college career. Say yes to any opportunity that scares you at the moment. For me, that was joining this organization. I can proudly say I joined for my final year at the University and I will forever cherish these memories during my one year here. Although it’s bittersweet, it’s been a wonderful experience furthering my skills and confidence as a visual storyteller. Solidifying my interests and shaping my goals for the next chapter in my life.
Through my time at the Cigar, I have gained a deep sense of self-assurance that will allow me to embrace any daunting opportunity that comes my way. So should you.
Last note, thank you to everyone who works tireless hours making the Cigar a truly outstanding organization. They deserve as much recognition as possible when they start their careers after college and deserve all the accolades that come their way. The Cigar wouldn’t be what it is today without each and every one of you.