MCCAUGHEY: Still in denial


Nora McCaughey with friends at a Quidditch tournament in 2019. Photo courtesy of Nora McCaughey

I shouldn’t be writing a senior column. 

That’s something the big kids do, the soon-to-be-alumni, the geriatric almost-adults, before they graduate. And that can’t be me: I’m still in that awkward time between my senior year of high school and first year of college when I’m applying to be a copy editor for the Marquette Wire. 

The rejection email hits my inbox while I’m at a coffee shop with my family. I’m bummed, but not entirely surprised, as I had no previous qualifications other than being a grammar nerd.  

I stagger through the first few weeks of college before another email enters my inbox. The copy editor they hired instead of me quit due to the low pay, and they’re desperate for someone to step in. Personally, I call that karma for not hiring me in the first place, but of course, I graciously accept.

With no experience in journalism, AP style or even copy editing in general, I feel out of place in Johnston Hall. Everyone else here is so smart, so well-spoken and such good friends with each other. I miss high school, when everyone asked me to edit their papers with full confidence I was the best person for the job.  

I’m a sophomore now, and I’ve created a space for myself in Johnston Hall, even if it’s not in the newsroom. I bring my new college friends to J-Pad, where we take over during midterms. While struggling to finish a paper, I let it all out and sob on one of the leather couches. My tears pool into a puddle on the seat, and I call my friends over to laugh at the absurdity of it all.

COVID-19 comes along and suddenly I’m separated from my friends, feeling as alone as I did at the beginning of freshman year. I get to write a COVID-19 Blog for the Wire, and I’m ecstatic to finally be a published writer, even if it’s not in print. I’m getting the hang of AP Style and the newsroom, so I apply to be the copy chief for my junior year. Suddenly I’m not just one small part of the Wire, but an editorial board member getting farther from the underclassmen with every new edition of the Tribune.

It’s the first Late Night of my senior year, and for the first time, can’t wait to get to the newsroom. I greet my copy editors in person for the first time, and say hello to co-workers I’d known through the computer screen but never face to face. The energy in the air seems to anticipate the hours of excitement and fun that will come to us every Monday night for the rest of the semester.  

Four years ago I couldn’t wait to graduate from Marquette. All I wanted was to be out of this city, this state, and back home. Back in my favorite city in the world, with my dog, my friends, at my high school. Since then, I’ve learned to love new cities, my dog died, my high school has been torn down and I’ve lost a myriad of friends. The home I want to go back to doesn’t exist anymore, but a new one has taken its place.

I can’t be writing a senior column, because that means I’m about to graduate. I don’t want to stop living a five-minute walk away from my best friends, getting swiped into hot cookie night in Cobeen Hall or spending Thursday nights at Mug Night. But most of all I don’t want to get a job where I won’t be in Johnston Hall’s newsroom every Monday night for four years with the likes of John, RJ, Kendal, all the Alexes, Scooter, Grace and of course my practically perfect copy editors Jack, Emily, Alex and Cait. 

So I’ll stay in denial about my time at the Marquette Wire being over until the minute I graduate, thank you very much.

This story was written by Nora McCaughey. She can be reached at [email protected]