cristelajones

Cristela Jones, an electronic media senior and Life and Arts Editor, says goodbye to her time at the Star in April 2021.

Editor’s Note: “-30-” has traditionally been used throughout journalism to indicate the end of a story. Each semester, The University Star encourages its graduating seniors to write a Senior 30—a farewell piece to our readers—indicating the conclusion of a journalist’s time as an active member of our organization.

Applying to work at The University Star during the beginning of a pandemic was the best decision I could’ve made in a year full of loss and change.

I remember moving out of my dorm and back into my parents' house with one thought pulsating through my mind: "Well, what am I supposed to do now?"

Scrolling through emails and Canvas notifications, I found a link to apply for The Star.

The life and arts section instantly caught my eye. I was intrigued by the domino effect of events happening around me during the pandemic as businesses closed, fears of COVID-19 transmission spread, the political climate and the world's new-found reality set in.

My desire to get out of the gloomy Zoom routine to share people’s stories was at an all-time high. It was the stories being written across nationwide media platforms, such as the ones surrounding the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, that pushed me to apply.

At the time, I had minimal experience reporting and interviewing, but I knew I needed to perfect these skills in order to prepare for a possible journalism career in the future.

From the moment I began attending staff meetings, establishing new connections and writing stories, I knew I was in the right place.

Since then, although I never thought I’d be promoted to the life and arts editor of The Star, I have had the privilege to tell the stories of those who are unheard and unseen.

Being a part of this organization has allowed me to know the city of San Marcos in an entirely new light. Getting to tell the stories of students of color, talking to inspiring professors and forging relationships with local businesses has motivated me to pursue a master’s degree in journalism — in doing so, I hope to better myself as a storyteller and continue to amplify as many voices as possible.

I strongly believe that journalists, particularly journalists of color, are crucial in this day and age to serve as mediators of truth. Therefore, establishing trust, building connections and going beyond the color of a person’s skin is what will advance the content of future stories and change the way we view the world around us.

I still have a lot to learn, but working at The Star has taught me so much in just a short period of time.

From picking up my first paper in Hines Academic Center to working my last production day in the newsroom, it has been an incredible ride. I am extremely grateful to all who believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. From the editors who gave me the opportunity to fall and get back up again, the interviewees who shared their stories and lives with me and the memories I’ve gained with the most amazing group of strong life and arts women have been unforgettable.

To all, I say thank you, thank you, thank you  for molding me into the better writer, editor and pandemic-born journalist I am today.

Journalism is an act of civic responsibility. We see our work as a public service that is necessary for a community to thrive because knowledge is empowering. If you enjoyed this story, please consider helping us "Defend the First Amendment" by donating today!

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