You get what you give

Arts Editor Lauren LaMagna reflects on her time at the Collegian

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By Lauren LaMagna, Arts Editor

As all of my fellow seniors probably feel, I cannot believe my time has come to write this. Everyone always says “time moves quickly,” but you never believe it until you realize that your current experience is quickly coming to an end.

Four years ago, I came to the University of Massachusetts from New York, having previously studied theater. But in the summer before my freshman year, I found out about the Massachusetts Daily Collegian and to my surprise, they had an arts section. As I researched colleges, some school newspapers only focused on news and sports, so the fact that the Collegian included the arts, a topic that continually goes undervalued or deemed unimportant in higher education, made me smile from ear to ear. I knew as soon as I got to campus, I had to find this organization. Flash forward to the fall activity fair, I signed onto the mailing list and received an email about the first All Staff meeting.

As an out-of-state student who came to UMass alone, the Collegian made campus much smaller and a lot less overwhelming for me. I was the only one in my friend group interested in joining the Collegian so the thought of going to the meeting alone, as a scared little freshman who had absolutely no idea what was going on, was terrifying. I didn’t know anyone, how the Collegian worked or if anyone would show up at all. All I knew is that I loved film, television and theater and since I wasn’t going to a film school, I needed the next best thing to keep my creative juices flowing: to write about it. Looking back at it today, I am so grateful I worked up the courage to leave my only friends at UMass and walk from the Southwest Residential Area to the Collegian’s office that hot September night. If you told that girl that one day, she’ll not only join the arts section, but run it, she wouldn’t believe you for a second.

As the Arts Editor, I always tell my writers that you get out of the Collegian as much as you put into it. For me, the Collegian and the Arts and Living section have given me so much – too much to talk about in under 1000 words. For starters, it has helped shaped me into a strong writer. In the beginning of my collegiate career, I found pleasure after I wrote something, but wasn’t in love with the actual process of sitting down and writing a story. Now, I come up with interesting angles and my lexicon has increased exponentially as the years went on. This has led me to being privileged enough to gain early access for films to review, become a freelance film critic and obtain internships in entertainment journalism. The Collegian has also given me a wonderful boost of self-confidence. There is nothing more euphoric than seeing your article in print for the first time and the sight of the UMass community reading it. Article after article and semester after semester, that scared little freshman turned into the cool, calm and collected leader of the Arts section.

But above all else, the Collegian has given me the opportunity to spend time with some of the hardest working individuals that UMass has to offer. From my writers to my assistants and my fellow co-workers, I guarantee you that you will not find a community more passionate than the Collegian staff. The way we were able to seamlessly transition to a remote newspaper that continues to publish stories every week during the pandemic is more than enough proof. From spending hours down in the office working on our respective pieces, formatting pages on InDeisgn, to editing each other’s articles, we are always laughing and having fun in-between. If a stranger ever walked into the office, it is clear that we are all down there because it is what we love to do and who we do it with. The Collegian office was a home away from home. It was a safe place filled with people that loved what you loved and wanted to see you succeed. There is never any competition between the student journalists in the basement of the campus center, just your friends that wanted you to produce the best work you possibly could.

As I finish my final semester online back in New York, I can’t help but miss all these faces and that office. I miss our weekly meetings when Tyler Clardy would complain to me and Ashley Tsang that he probably has another (yes another) concussion and Ashley would come up with a witty response. I miss Quinn He analyzing every Tame Impala song ever released and Molly Hamilton figuring out InDesign in literally 30 minutes. I miss our Arts meetings when we all would just laugh at Tyler who yet again, proved that he was the wrong choice to run the music subsection and asking my writer with the top arts article of the week what type of candy they wanted me to bring in next week. I miss spending time in the office laughing about everything and nothing with my friends and it sucks that the last time I was in the office; I didn’t know it was my last time. I didn’t get to take it in or sign the door or hug the people that made my time here so special. I thought I was coming back.

After four years writing for the Collegian, a semester as an assistant editor and a full year as the Arts editor, I have learned and experienced the good, bad, ugly and beautiful. It’s crazy that a newspaper, a basement and a few people can have a great effect on someone. It’s also crazy that my biggest regret during my time at UMass was not joining staff sooner. But that’s what makes humans so interesting: we live off of stories, which were originally memories which were originally experiences. So through the retelling of my time at the Collegian, the memory and experience of it remains alive. And for a girl who is in love with stories, that’s everything.

I guess what I’m trying to say in this extremely long column, is that maybe I was wrong. Yes, I did put a lot into the Collegian, but the Collegian has given me back tenfold and for that I am forever grateful. I want to thank my assistants, Tyler, Ashley, Quinn and Molly for being the best team a girl can ask for, my writers, who made our job much easier than it needed to be and everyone at the Collegian, past, present and future. Most of all, thank you for giving a girl who loved movies a home.

Lauren LaMagna was the Arts Editor and can be reached at [email protected]