Senior Sendoff: Blocking out the noise

Haters gonna hate. Photo by Bryan McKibben


If I could redo my college years, I would have joined The Butler Collegian the second I stepped onto campus. 

For those of you who did not know, I practically committed to Butler solely because David Fryrear  — Butler alum and, famously, the father of the one and only Julia Fryrear — promoted the university like it was his job. I personally believe that he is handed money under the table by President Danko himself, but regardless, Mr. Fryrear convinced me that if I attended the university, I would walk out with a career complete with a 401(k). 

So, of course, I had to go. 

I whimsically glided my way through the first year at Butler, and how could I not? As an exploratory major, my only goal was to wait for a full-fledged career to spring into my mind and answer all of my vocational desires. In those months, the only active participation I had in creating my future was taking class after class, hoping that some activity or assignment would tell me, “You are meant to do this for the rest of your life.” So I sat in my sociology, political science and history classes, mostly engaged, occasionally doodling and always hoping, praying and waiting for inspiration to strike me with some purpose. 

It was not until sophomore year that I started caring about money. 

I should not have cared about money. I had the privilege to attend college at my parents’ expense — shoutout Mom and Dad — and I had no desire to live in a mansion with Ferraris, fame and fortune. I cared about money because everyone around me seemed so concerned about finding the quickest way to become financially independent, a concept that I could not fathom at that moment. I felt dumb and naive because I had no future plans on how I would be able to afford anything at all. In my head, I had already decided that if I did not pursue some type of business degree, I would be without purpose. 

Strangers, professors and loved ones in my life had no qualms with verbally confirming these feelings. 

“You are smart for doing business. That makes you so much more marketable.” 

“Business is the way to go if you are ever going to make any real money.” 

“I’m so glad you picked a useful major.” 

I felt smart about registering for business classes. It felt like such a safe option for me, an individual who was not pursuing anything else, anyway. If I did not know what my future held, at least I would have a chance at not living in my parents’ basement. 

I have to hand it to every business student out there, as I did not have fun in the Lacy School of Business. There were no crayons or coloring pages, as promised by other majors. Instead, I was met with uninteresting classes and impossible homework that I would ignore. Between my deepest uninterest in learning how to work Microsoft Excel and how to perform any type of accounting, I failed MS 100 and accounting 101. Needless to say, that was the end of my business journey. 

This landed me in the office of my then-advisor, Chris Clendenen. He had been my rock as I limped along through my sophomore year. He helped me refill my Lexapro prescription when I felt like there was no use trying to. He advocated on my behalf when the university had messed up my schedule. And he was there when I hit the total rock bottom of my academic career. 

I sat in his office, waiting for him to hand me some sort of playbook, some sort of instruction for what I was supposed to do after I thought I had tried it all. As he softened the volume to Taylor Swift’s “Folklore” album, he faced and asked me, “Allie, what do you want here?” I had no words. If I remember correctly, I only shrugged. He sighed and asked if I had failed him. 

“You have to make your own decisions,” Clendenen said. “If you continue letting others dictate your choices, you are not actively living your life. You are living someone else’s.” 

I sat silent for a moment, feeling anxious and scared to make my first real decision, one that mattered. I then followed up, asking Chris if I had time to major in political science, a passion I had thought through and was excited about, as well as a minor in journalism, a passion I was scared to commit to because it was new to me. He told me of course I did, and asked why it took so long for me to declare. I told him that I wanted a major to help me get a job, to help me succeed in life. He rolled his eyes and shook his head playfully, and told me that I dodged a bullet not picking a business major. I do not know whether it was because of my poor accounting or because I did not like business, but I found relief in his sentiment. 

Chris then referred me to Professor Scott Bridge, who let me shadow his class and suspiciously knew my hometown before he knew what I looked like. We chatted and he referred me to the school newspaper, The Butler Collegian. 

I commenced with my research. Except for sports, I combed over every top story for that week, soaking up every word, analyzing each picture. I journeyed to the Opinion section and stayed put, reading articles that my friend’s sorority big sister, Katie Freeman, had written. Her article, “My big fat Greek double standard”, somehow reached inside of my brain and smeared all of my thoughts and feelings on that screen so beautifully. I may have cried. 

I had to write an article to make others weep. I had to apply that night. 

A week later, Alison Miccolis sat in front of me in Starbucks, advertising the small, $7.50 wage as a “burrito bowl fund” and questioning why I had chosen to submit an essay “Communism v. Fascism” as a writing sample. I did not have much to say to her — I was intimidated by her grace and the fact that she had previously hung out with me a year earlier while I bawled my eyes out over a man. But to my shock, she sent over the paperwork, and I was hired as a reporter for the Opinion section. 

I stayed up until 2 a.m. working on my first article and, at first, I thought I had written a flawless, incredible piece of journalism. I got my edits back in a day, and I had come to find out that my then-Opinion Editors Reece Butler and Aidan Gregg found many flaws. 86, to be exact. It was no Katie Freeman masterpiece. I had grammar mistakes, spelling errors, formatting blunders and two missing sources. Despite how hopeless I felt, I started cracking away on my edits and took in the guidance I received from my mentors. Sources were scarce, so Aidan found a friend, Ellie Howe, to meet me at Starbucks at 9 p.m. on Tuesday night to interview before I resumed finishing touches for publication on that same night. 

In the early morning of October 12, 2022, “Tinder likes us lonely” was thrown into The Butler Collegian website. To my knowledge, no one shed a tear while reading. But, it was my story that I took time out of my schoolwork and shenanigans to craft, so to say I was proud of my work was an understatement. 

That first article took so much emotion out of me that I decided to beg Alison to try out news reporting for a week. I then landed myself in a room with then-News Editors Annie Faulkner and Gabi Morando who entrusted me with covering state-wide elections in my article, “Hoosier Legislator?” I felt so valued to have been in charge of documenting the thoughts and feelings of my peers and professors concerning elections — a political science major’s version of the Super Bowl. Reporting on important events, ideas and people deeply through an almost strictly factual lens interested me, so I stayed in the News section for the rest of my college career. 

I still have strangers, professors and loved ones in my life who have opinions left to give. A classmate walked up to me to say that I should have phrased a paragraph to illuminate Todd Young’s accomplishments better. A professor told me that I was wasting my degree studying news articles. My grandfather said I picked useless majors. All of them probably thought they were helping me along with some tough love, offering me unsolicited advice that I just “had to hear.” I cannot say these interactions were pleasant, or that I do not still think about them from time to time, but I did not take them to heart. In my head, the critics had no control. 

I covered everything under the sun: the esports team’s new facility, the importance of birth control and even more elections. With every week came a new opportunity for an article, and I was anticipating every moment as I awaited my assignment in the hallway of the Holcomb Building. 

As my first year as a reporter came to a close, I applied to become a News editor. I did not apply because I believed I was qualified or because I wanted to have three more dollars a week to my name. I had previously shadowed one Tuesday night, and I witnessed first-hand the lively community of editors dressing up as their favorite artists when the TikToks I had previously idolized sprang to life right in front of me. I was in the room where it happened, where all of the decisions for each news article were made, where all of the energy in Fairbanks magnetized to after 7 p.m. 

I needed to come home to a room I had never set foot in but knew all too well. 

Alison finally named me assistant News editor, which was perfect. I felt like I could not be trusted with an editor’s responsibility, and I still wanted the clout, so I was very comfortable in the ranking. I spent my first semester senior year editing, laughing, singing and eating with News Co-Editors Jasper Pilarz and Ryann Bahnline in our little “newsie” trio. They were the perfect partners between all of us arriving on Tuesday slightly unhinged, and leaving with the hinges flying off. Ryann and I said our goodbyes to Jasper as they abandoned — I mean, traveled to — England, and we run the News section now completely unhinged in their honor. 

Now, I am teetering on the cusp of graduation. I am proud of my work and the role I have played in The Butler Collegian, grateful for all of the lessons I have learned and sad that the sun is setting on my very favorite college accomplishment. 

I am so glad to declare that you will never catch me in an accounting class again, as I have turned to TurboTax for all my taxing needs. I am happy that I may be broke coming out of college, or for many years to come, because I am able to head into a career field I hold so close to my heart. I am so thankful that I learned how to properly make my own decisions according to my own happiness. I am so blessed to be surrounded not by Ferraris, fame and fortune, but by so many lovely people, so much potential and a strong pride for the articles I have wrote. 

So, to David Fryrear: you may have suggested I attend Butler because you believed the university would set me up for life, or because President Danko told you to, but regardless, I am glad you did so I could have this incredible opportunity of a lifetime. Thank you, and I look forward to attending alumni events with you. 

To Jasper and Ryann: you filled my weeks and Tuesday nights with so much joy. I loved working in this little cohort, and I treasure our time and collaboration together so dearly. 

To Annie and Gabi: you taught me how to make my subpar Word documents into news articles. I am so appreciative of every edit, every suggestion and all of your guidance during my first year as a News reporter. 

To Alison, Caleb, Megan, Abigail, Reece, Maddie, Abby, Isabella, Grace, Jada, Sarah, Leah, Aidan, Mae-Mae and Eva: you showed me what it means to be part of a team and part of a family. Our late Tuesday nights will live inside of my heart, and I plan to become an avid part of the Collegian fanbase. Thank you for all of your edits and jokes. 

To Lily, Erika, Hallie, Maxwell, Hailey, Kinley, Mairin and Ollie: thank you for entrusting me to edit your precious articles. You gave me the experience and the confidence I needed to become an editor. I look forward to seeing what each of you incredible reporters accomplish in your lives! 

To Chris Clendenen: thank you for giving me the best advice I desperately needed. You have been the best career mentor and a great friend. 

To everyone who ever has read one of my articles, including Julia Fryrear, Jamie Fryrear, Kelly Shinnick, Kennedy Culbertson, Michael Wozniak, Mom and Dad: you have shown me an incredible amount of support as I have made my way through my Collegian journey. Thank you for all of your encouragement, and I will never forget your kind words. 

To everyone I ever interviewed, including Kate Snook, Reagan Meyers, Lauren Varhol and William Cassner: you are the reason I am able to write anything at all. Thank you for trusting me to transform your interviews into articles. 

Thank you, Butler Collegian, for transforming my passions into my purpose.


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