By Emma Russell
From the moment my mother and I stepped foot in idyllic Chestertown and on the historic Washington College campus she said to me, “You’re going to be just like Rory Gilmore!”
It was a nice idea — who doesn’t want to be the endlessly lovable quirky small-town girl who loves to read books and is dripping with writing talent?
I hoped to make it come true, honestly, I really did, but I never quite got around to it my freshman year. I was always too something — too busy, too tired, too nervous.
I was vaguely interested in The Elm and attended a meeting in my second semester and was finally ready to start writing, then COVID-19 swept through, shutting everything down and shipping me off back home, away from my small town and my chance to write.
I lounged around after that, unable to motivate myself. It wasn’t until the end of that semester when an email went out about hiring for next year’s editorial team that I remembered The Elm even existed and that I had intended to work for them (plus having something to do to fill my days while making money sounded nice while stuck at home).
I applied for nearly every section editor position and somehow, I became The Elm’s next Student Life Editor. I can only assume it’s because nobody else was crazy to report on Student Life when the students were scattered all over the world. Uh oh.
I certainly had my work cut out for me, constantly getting my ass handed to me on a silver platter every week with copy edits on top of copy edits. It was hard, a constant source of stress. Sending sections in at the last minute, writing up to three articles each week, and never having consistent writers. I even had to interview somebody for their physics senior capstone experience once and the Google searches after that interview only confused me more.
It was difficult to adapt, especially when I dove in head-first with a whopping total of zero experience in journalism, but somehow, despite literally everything, I made it work.
I hopped on board The Elm train and was ready to go again, especially for the 2021-22 academic school year, when everyone returned to WC. Suddenly there was an abundance of Student Life — so many events to cover once everyone returned back to campus and were determined to make the most of their time back.
It was a lot of work, but I found it all very rewarding. But while spending Sunday evenings in the publications house fighting with InDesign I came to a startling realization: I did not enjoy journalism very much.
Funny how that happens. I am so grateful to The Elm, and all that it taught me (being able to say I know how to use InDesign on my resume is definitely a plus) but it just was not the sort of thing I could see myself doing. As it turns out I was not Rory Gilmore.
I am, however, a dedicated individual and couldn’t imagine myself not working for The Elm my senior year, so I took a step back. I decided to be a copy editor and I would pick up articles for the other sections every now and then so they wouldn’t have to struggle as I did.
Even though I will no longer be writing for The Elm, I know I’ll be hopping onto its website every Thursday to catch up on the latest WC news.
The Elm provided me with ample opportunities to learn and grow in a safe environment that fostered kindness, inclusivity, and education. My time spent in the publications house, even when working, made me smile.
Photo courtesy of Emma Russell
Photo Caption: In her three year Elm career, Emma Russell has been both the editor of Student Life and a copyeditor.