John Papagni’s Senior Goodbye

During the height of the pandemic when everyone was locked up in their homes, I remember something that my parents told me as we were eating dinner at the dining room table. They told me that in the blink of an eye four years would go by and I would be graduating Monmouth University, and they were absolutely right.

I had heard great things about Monmouth’s communication program, that their teachers were very personable, supportive, and caring for their students and I heard great things about the Outlook newspaper.

I remember the first time I set foot on the Monmouth University campus on November 25, 2018. I had told my father that I was interested in enrolling at Monmouth, so that day he took me to see the campus. It was during Monmouth’s Thanksgiving break, and there were not too many students on campus but the few I did talk to expressed how they loved the campus, the small classroom sizes and how supportive of a community that Monmouth offered.

As my dad and I were heading to the parking lot to leave the campus, I saw one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen in my life and that is when I knew that I wanted to attend Monmouth University.
The second time I came to Monmouth University I went on a tour of the campus and wanted to see the inside of the newsroom. That is where I got to meet the famous John Morano, he was so welcoming, nice, and funny. He was another big part of why I joined the Outlook.

When my stepmom came into my room one day and handed me an acceptance envelope from Monmouth University, I was so overjoyed that in a few short months that I would be attending the school of my personal dreams and then BOOM the Covid-19 pandemic hit and everything became so uncertain.
My college experience has definitely been unique, from the first year to having mostly online classes, with maybe one hybrid class, to my second year which was fully in-person with social distancing guidelines in place, to having a “normal” college experience during my third and fourth year, which I was very happy to finally experience how college was supposed to be.

My experience with the Outlook has also been a unique one. It was completely online for my first year, and during my second year it became more of a hybrid experience; I got in contact with the editor in chief at the time Matthew Cutillo and wanted to bring back the comic section during the fall semester and then also became the opinion editor for during the spring semester which continued up until my senior year where I took up the role as the managing editor/vice president.

I feel this past year at the Outlook has been the best it has ever been in all the four years I have been a part of it. Our editors this year were always striving to make the paper better and better with each and every issue that was released.

There is one person though who throughout my entire time at Monmouth has been my rock, the person who was there for me at the highest of times and the lowest of lows. That person being my dad.
He is the most supportive, caring and real person I know. Before I started classes my dad gave me a checklist of five things to do at Monmouth to have a fulfilling college experience: One.) focus on my grades, Two.) have fun, Three.) make friends, Four.) network and Five.) take advantage of everything at your disposal.

So that is just what I did with my time at college, I got the best grades I could have and actually was able to maintain a 3.5 GPA throughout all 4 years which is the best I have ever done in any form of school. Even with dealing with COVID-19 in the beginning few years, I met some strangers who slowly became great friends of mine, who I would I always hang out with in the student center conference rooms late at night playing video games, watching movies, or going to the beach in the dead of night running around in the sand while playing games or being goofballs.

I tried to take advantage of everything that Monmouth had to offer, because of my GPA I was recognized by my professors to be hardworking so they approached me with an opportunity to take part in the CSIS Journalism Bootcamp with some of my fellow peers.

It was an extensive program that lasted a week full of meeting new people through zoom, interviewing them, and putting together an extensive article about how Covid-19 Transformed Urban Spaces. I got to work on the video/editing portion of the article with a previous chief in editor Melissa Badamo. It was a great experience that got me connected with many professionals in the field of my interest.

Another opportunity that the Outlook provided for me was going to the ACP Spring National College Conference in San Francisco California back in the spring semester of my junior year. It was an extraordinary experience to learn more in depth practices of journalism with my fellow colleagues that we implemented into the Outlook at Monmouth.

It is bittersweet graduating I am excited for what the future has to offer me, to be able to go into the working world with everything I have learned through my classes, and experiences but I am sad I will never get to be so close to my friends everyday, to not have so many responsibilities looming over my head though that is the way life goes I suppose.

I am grateful to everyone I have met at Monmouth, to all the memories I have made, and to all the experiences that I will cherish.