I almost didn’t join the staff of The McDaniel Free Press freshman year. I was intimidated by the collegiate level, even after my great experiences with newspaper in high school. On a whim, though, I attended the second staff meeting of the year, and the atmosphere was so energetic and welcoming, I was hooked. I stayed after that first meeting to speak with faculty sponsor Lisa Breslin, who quickly ushered me over to Art Director Ashleigh Smith ’10 upon hearing that I was proficient with Adobe InDesign. Ashleigh and I stayed outside the Writing Center and talked for over half an hour about both the paper and life at McDaniel. I knew that this was an environment where I belonged, and I dove right in. Joining the Free Press was my best decision of freshman year. This one action resulted in so many benefits. I grew as a writer. I met amazing people. I found leadership and networking opportunities. I also learned many useful skills, such as video editing and interviewing techniques. It was all so easy, too. I just expressed interest to either Lisa or whatever student was in charge of my area of interest, and they were more than willing to set me on the right path. During my first semester, I was not only a staff writer, but a member of both the layout and copy desk staff, and I loved it. When my level of coursework got heavy, it was easy to cut back on Free Press commitments by writing a simpler piece or just focusing on layout that week rather than doing everything. Let me tell you, that flexibility was vital to the preservation of my sanity. You really can do as much or as little as you have the time or the desire for. I took the practicum class next semester because I enjoyed it all so much. This allowed me to get even more involved. We learned how to use iMovie, and then I created a 60 Seconds video about whether students felt they got what they paid for at McDaniel College. The class reported on Snowmaggedon as it unfolded. We took candid photos of life on campus and learned how to write interesting and informative captions. I helped two seniors create the senior issue of the paper, which was challenging, but a lot of fun. The Newspaper Practicum does require more work than just being a member of the staff, but I enjoyed it so much I’m signed up for it this semester. My favorite Free Press experience of freshman year was definitely the CMA conference in New York City. Senior Kim Williams, Junior Megan Robinson, and I listened to speakers like Terry Moran from ABC News, attended sessions about the future of newspapers, and got to take a look at the papers of other colleges from across the country. It was a fun, enlightening, and unforgettable experience. Interested in joining the McDaniel Free Press? Come to one of our meetings, held in the Writing Center on Monday nights. If you can’t make it, talk to Lisa Breslin, whose office is located right across from the Writing Center in Hill Hall. Hope to see you there!