Senior Reflection: Jenna LaConte, Editor-in-Chief

Graduating from Boston College feels like an excessively cruel and even more unusual punishment. Over the course of my four years living here, BC has embedded itself into every component of my identity. As I compiled the little pieces of this place that would define my college experience, however, I was unaware of how strongly a single organization would come to define me.

I spent high school relatively uninvolved. Sports were out of the question based on my inability to catch things, kick things, throw things and move my body in a normal manner. My issues with movement ruled out dancing as well, and I am exceptionally tone deaf. My older siblings stole all of the artistic and theatrical genes prior to my birth, which I still suspect was on purpose. Midway through high school, I got a job at a store in my town, where I made up for my lack of applicable talents by saving money that has since disappeared into the college abyss.

Coming to college, I had low expectations about the extent to which I would get involved on campus. I attended meetings here and there for different clubs throughout my freshman year, but never developed any extreme passion for what I was doing.

When I joined The Gavel my sophomore year, it was a two-year-old monthly newspaper with a meager online presence and a staff of around a dozen people. I stumbled upon it by chance at the involvement fair, having never seen or heard of it before. I had no experience writing for any sort of publication, and I figured that trying my hand with the random newspaper that nobody on campus would ever read was harmless enough.

At one of my first writers’ meetings, Mason Lende, who was the Editor-in-Chief at the time, encouraged the staff writers to pitch their own ideas at meetings. “Eventually, everything that you see on campus will turn into a story idea,” he said.

Mason was right, in more ways than one. Story ideas began to creep up on me at every corner, and the more I wrote, the more I fell completely in love with The Gavel in a way that makes having to say goodbye to this part of my life utterly heartbreaking.

I fell in love with the people, first and foremost. We pride ourselves on being inclusive, on giving every student on this campus who is interested in contributing the opportunity to do so. While part of this is to counter the notorious hyper-competitive nature of most organizations at BC, it also allows us to continuously grow our Gavel family. I will be the first to say that the Gavel is a lot of work. Each of our five sections publishes an online article almost every day of the week. Behind each article is a section editor who came up with the idea, a writer who took the idea and ran with it, and a copy editor who read and meticulously combed through the piece before publishing it. Behind each monthly print magazine are writers, editors, photographers, layout designers and business people pushing themselves to put together the best issue yet. Our video team is constantly brainstorming new ways to entertain, occasionally by throwing pies in their friends’ faces.

Each member of The Gavel plays an essential role in the content that we produce, and as valuable as this hard work is, it pales in comparison to the bonds that build within the Gavel community. The relationships make the late nights, the tight deadlines and the endless meetings worth being a Gavelier. They are what I will take with me.

I fell in love with writing. I now understand the difference between a hobby and a passion, a concept that was entirely lost on me before I started to write. Writing allows me to reflect, to process, to better understand my own values. My playlist labeled “Writing” gets me through crowded T rides, days when I need a quick pick-me-up and nights when I am struggling to fall asleep. For me, writing is comfort.

I fell in love with our definition of “progressive.” While there are certainly political and social implications behind progressivism, at the heart of our progressive label lies a drive to constantly progress as a student publication. We refuse to stand still, and with each new change comes another. When we transitioned away from the newspaper format, we formed an entire design team to handle the more intricate and aesthetic layout that comes with running a magazine. When our increased number of staff writers opened the doors for more daily online articles, our copy editors were suddenly overloaded with content to publish each day. Instead of dialing back, we hired and trained more editors to make the increased workload more feasible for everyone.

Nothing embodies our definition of progressive better than Authentic Eagles, the biweekly series that we started this semester. Authentic Eagles pieces are unlike anything else that we produce. The writers are generally not students who would otherwise identify themselves as such, as the vast majority have no actual affiliation with The Gavel. In spite of this, our Authentic Eagles contributors have produced some of the most beautifully moving pieces that The Gavel has ever published. It has been a true honor to work with writers throughout the semester and watch the series blossom with each passing week, creating a previously stifled discussion on campus about our authentic selves. On a campus that often prioritizes perfectionism over vulnerability, any conversation sparked by an Authentic Eagles submission signifies progress.

I fell in love with our readers. Nothing brightens my day quite like seeing a “bang.” sticker on the laptop of someone whose face I do not recognize from Gavel meetings. Watching students around me in class scroll through The Gavel is the best distraction I could ask for. And for every person who rejects me on those days when we pass out magazines in the quad, ten more students smile brightly as they take another issue off of our hands, reminding us that all of our hard work inevitably pays off.

The Gavel will be in incredibly capable hands when I graduate. Emily Akin, the future Editor-in-Chief, is one of the few people out there who has never questioned my sanity in relation to my Gavel obsession. She is a true innovator, and although she may have a sweet smile, she is a force to be reckoned with. I have no doubt that she, along with Managing Editor Katie Levingston, will make The Gavel virtually unrecognizable compared to what it is today, in the best way possible.

I am forever indebted to The Gavel, and more specifically to my fellow Gaveliers, for a truly exceptional few years. My time with The Gavel has been the most formative experience of my life so far, and it is nearly inconceivable that I now must say goodbye. I would be lying if I said I wasn't terrified for what is ahead, but if The Gavel has taught me anything, it is that life cannot move forward without change. Time to progress.

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