I remember being insanely nervous for my first ever Argus interview. It was the first week of freshman year and, for some reason, I had already volunteered to take on an article. Despite having never really written for a newspaper, I was tasked with interviewing the 2018 Hamilton Prize winner. I was terrified at the idea of cold emailing someone, not to mention interviewing them. Luckily, Sydney Kim ’22, who had won the prize, was a freshman adjusting to college just like me, which made the interview a lot easier. A few days (and edits) later, I had my first article published.

Since then I’ve written numerous—108, to be exact—articles for The Argus. It’s a big number, and I’m honestly not sure how it even happened. But perhaps what’s more important are the stories I’ve been able to tell through these articles. After all, quality over quantity, always. 

When I started writing and editing for The Argus, I mostly took on whatever articles others suggested. However, as time went on, I started to understand more of what makes something article worthy, and it became easier to come up with my own ideas. I also began to seek out stories by paying more attention to my surroundings. I came up with articles about the beloved Usdan staff member Sue Scarrozzo, Wesleyan’s Watering Woman Gia Khalsa, and the love story between Bon App employees Mert and Wendy. Through writing these stories, I realized that I loved human interest writing and getting to know more about the people around me. 

Not long after this realization, I was tasked with writing about what was, at the time, one of the greatest tragedies to strike Wesleyan: the discontinuation of Guayakí Yerba Mate at Weshop. Funnily enough, this seemingly trivial article was a pivotal moment in my journalism career. My article was noticed by Guayaki representatives, who realized there had been a miscommunication and immediately reached out to Weshop. Pretty soon after, Yerba Mate was back on the shelf. As Gary Kriksciun, the manager of Weshop, said to me jokingly as he told me the good news: “It’s the power of the press.” 

Soon after my Yerba Mate success story, COVID-19 hit and we were sent home. And yet, I found myself writing more than ever. During this time, I realized that reporting and writing energized me. I enjoy interviewing people, ferreting out and explaining key facts, and sharing interesting stories with readers. I wrote numerous articles on the transformational impact of COVID-19 on admissions, dining workers, and students studying abroad.

When we got back to campus in the fall of 2020, my writing craze continued. I returned to my roots by interviewing Wesleyan staff members and wrote a piece on Tom McLarney. I got to speak to Middletown Mayor Ben Florsheim ’14 about his first year in office alongside my internet-friend-turned-real-friend Claire Isenegger ’21. I also cleared up a rumor about a chlamydia outbreak in the first of many collaborations with Emma Smith ’22. 

In the spring of 2021, I decided to take a leave of absence from Wesleyan. Despite taking no classes and being halfway across the country in Colorado, I stayed connected to Wesleyan through The Argus. Some may find it absurd to continue an extracurricular while taking a semester off (and looking back at it now, it does seem crazy), but I found that I couldn’t let it go, even for a moment. I continued to write for the paper but also began to explore freelancing, trying out everything The Argus taught me in the real world.  

This past fall, I returned to Wesleyan and The Argus, this time as Editor-in-Chief. Although I had never imagined taking on the role, I enjoyed serving as a role model for new writers and making big decisions. I also learned an important lesson, both for life and for journalism: you cannot please everyone. This semester, I was able to take a break and serve as Executive Editor, where I had fun writing about whatever I desired. I got to write about “How I Met Your Father,” interview one of my best friends, and process my turbulent move-in day of freshman year.

Working for The Argus has arguably been the most rewarding part of my Wesleyan experience. Sure, it taught me journalistic practices and made me a better writer, but being part of The Argus has helped me become a more confident and self-assured person. It gave me a sense of community and was an important lifeline during isolating times. Most of my closest friends at Wesleyan are those I’ve made through The Argus, and I couldn’t be more grateful for them. 

I’m also grateful for those who stuck around and read not just this article, but any of my articles. To my friends and family, I know it is probably annoying to be spammed with links to pieces that have no relevance to you, but many of you still humored me and read them. In particular, I’d like to recognize The Argus newsletter’s #1 subscriber, my grandma. She literally reads everything. Marcy, your responses to my articles were one of my favorite parts of writing.

Next month, I’ll be following the Wesleyan-to-Brooklyn pipeline by beginning an internship at Slate Magazine. I’ll be the only intern, writing articles at the science and health desk, and likely the newest (and youngest) person on the team. I’m somewhat nervous to be starting essentially from scratch, but then I remind myself that’s not true at all. Although I’ll be in a whole new city and at a new publication, I’ll have all I learned at The Argus to guide me. 

Hannah Docter-Loeb can be reached at hdocterloeb@wesleyan.edu (for only a few weeks longer).