Abigail Brooks’ Senior Goodbye: So Long For Now

When I was going on college tours in high school, I had a very difficult time finding a place that felt like it could be my home for the next four years. Tour after tour, I was left feeling unsatisfied and craving something that simply wasn’t there. I couldn’t pinpoint what it was, but I knew that I hadn’t yet found the right place for me.

I only visited Monmouth University because my mom suggested it and I didn’t feel like arguing with her – I had been on so many tours with little to no success, so I decided it was easier to go with the flow and do what she wanted. So, I visited a school that I knew absolutely nothing about. I had spent some time researching the other schools I had visited, but I had no idea what to expect from this one because I was only going in order to avoid a fight with my parents.

During my first tour, I realized that there was something different about Monmouth. I continued to see other schools, but Monmouth University always lingered in the back of my mind. Suddenly, I found myself comparing the other schools I was visiting to Monmouth and thinking about all the ways that Monmouth was better. I couldn’t shake this feeling, so I went on another tour. And then another. And then I went to an accepted students event. And then an honors school brunch. Finally, I decided that Monmouth was the place for me and committed as a Communications major with a concentration in public relations and journalism.

I had no reason for declaring this major. I knew nothing about what communications entailed, and I had absolutely no experience with PR or journalism. After basically living in Plangere for the first semester of my freshman year, I learned more about my major and grew to appreciate my seemingly random decision to pursue a field of study I knew nothing about.

I was introduced to The Outlook by Professor Morano, who was the faculty advisor at the time. As a student in the honors school, I had to fulfill certain credit requirements and was having a difficult time doing so. I took a few of Professor Morano’s journalism classes and told him about the issues I was having with getting the credits I needed. Together, we worked to create academic contracts that would allow me to obtain honors credit for his classes. The deal was always the same – I could get the honors credit I was asking for if I wrote a certain number of stories for The Outlook that semester.

In retrospect, it was a great recruiting tactic on his part, because it did exactly what I suspect he wanted it to. The first couple of pieces I published were simply to satisfy the requirements we had agreed upon. Then, I realized how much I enjoyed what I was doing and slowly started to go beyond what was required by the honors contracts. I found myself taking on more and more stories and growing as a writer in the process.

Eventually, the newsroom on the second floor of Plangere started to feel like my second home. In what felt like the blink of an eye, I became a staff writer, and then the news editor, and then the editor-in-chief. I never anticipated becoming this involved with The Outlook, but now I can’t imagine what my time at Monmouth would have been like without it.

My college experience has been shorter than most – although I’ll be back as a graduate student next year, I’ve only had three years of undergrad to enjoy everything Monmouth has to offer. I never thought I would regret taking so many AP and dual enrollment classes in high school, but I would do anything to get that time back and spend it here at Monmouth. Aside from my involvement in the University’s journalism program, I’m also a captain for the Club Sailing Team and am a member of the Honors School. I’m not ready for any of it to be over, yet here we are.

The Outlook has heavily shaped my college experience, more so than anything else I’ve been involved in during my three years at Monmouth, which I am so grateful for. It has afforded me so many opportunities that I would not have had otherwise, and I’ve met so many amazing students and faculty over the years. I’m a relatively quiet person, but The Outlook taught me how to be a leader and how to use my voice in a way that makes a difference.

It’s the small things that I complain about now that I’m going to miss the most: trying to coordinate more interviews than I can keep track of, sitting at my computer into the early hours of the morning working on my stories for the week while thinking about all the work for my actual classes I still had to do, always being the last person to leave Plangere on Tuesday nights after that week’s publication was finally complete, eating an absurd amount of pizza as I edited everyone’s sections, the desk chairs that are as old as I am, the computers that may or may not work depending on the day.

The Outlook is small. Not a lot of people even know that Monmouth has a student newspaper, much less do they read it or appreciate the work that we do. The newsroom is outdated and in the middle of being torn apart for renovations. It’s tucked away behind the bathrooms on the second floor of Plangere – out of sight, out of mind. Still, writing for The Outlook and eventually taking over as editor-in-chief for my last semester has been perhaps the most rewarding experience from my time at Monmouth. I wouldn’t trade it for the world, and I’m going to miss it in more ways than I can explain.