GARNER: Your first love never leaves you

Alex+in+her+first+college+room+student+in+The+Commons+August+2018.+Photo+courtesy+of+Alex+Garner

Alex in her first college room student in The Commons August 2018. Photo courtesy of Alex Garner

My pen is at the ready, hovering close to my notebook and phone perched on my lap. Sitting across from a Campus Ministry staff member, he tells me he’s hesitant to speak with me. He’s had poor experiences with the Marquette Wire in the past. 

I feel imbued with a commitment to get this story right. This is the first time I feel like a journalist. The first time I feel I can truly help shed light on an issue as well as correct an issue with past reporting. He explained to me there wasn’t an ablution station in the Alumni Memorial Union for Muslim students to use for “Wudu,” which involves cleansing parts of the body before prayer. 

I wasn’t very familiar with Islam, but it seemed like an injustice to me. 

I look over at him with sincerity, guaranteeing that my reporting will be accurate and truthful. He finally agrees and I press record on my phone. 

This story has stuck with me. 

Although my path with journalism has been uncommon, covering that story has been a shining reminder of how I can serve my community. And I couldn’t have done that without the Wire. 

It has kept me grounded in the beauty and challenges of journalism. I’d like to think that not having journalism so close to me as a major reminded me how much I love it. What is that saying? You never know what you have until it’s gone? 

So, I’m going back to the beginning — back to that first-year me who so dearly wanted to help share people’s stories. And that’s thanks to the Wire. It has given me everything: a way to find meaning in my life, a realized sense of perseverance and confidence, a chance to work with some of the most compassionate and intelligent people I’ve ever met, a place to call home. 

I’m going to miss nearly shoving Tribunes in my friends’ hands on Tuesdays, butting in conversations when I have the informed answer to questions about ‘X’ campus issue and beaming with a large smile when I tell people that I’m part of the Wire. 

When August rolls around, I don’t know what I’m going to do at 10 p.m. on Monday nights. Maybe I’ll aimlessly walk into a local newsroom and ask if they need me to do a fourth read or fact check a story. 

I have a hard time letting go. Maybe it’s because I’m sensitive. Or maybe it’s because when I love something so much, I don’t want it to end. 

But I know that while I’ll be a Wire alum soon, I’ll carry the marks it has left on me. 

To Sydney: Thank you for reaching out to me the summer after my first year. I would not be writing this, or have had any of the opportunities on the Wire I did, without your encouragement for me to come back. 

To Natallie, Aimee and Mark: Thank you for continuing to believe in me, especially when I didn’t believe in myself. Your guidance and gentle nudges helped me take a leap. 

To my desk: you girlies are exceptionally bright and brilliant. Thank you for being your amazing, authentic selves, and for teaching me how to be a better journalist and leader. 

To my Late Night buddies: How can I say goodbye? You’ve made this year truly the best, thank you for making me laugh until my ribs hurt. 

To everyone at the Wire who I’ve been lucky to know: Thank you for touching my life, in all the little and big ways. 

I’ll take countless lessons with me as I move on from the Wire, but right now, there is one that stands out. The biggest thing I’ve learned is that your first love never really leaves you. For me, that was journalism.

This story was written by Alexandra Garner. She can be reached at alexandra.garner@marquette.edu.