Second-generation journalist will miss tough but rewarding job

Heather Mangan

Heather Mangan

“You still do that Collegian stuff?” a former classmate asked me when we ran into each other at a restaurant recently.

We hadn’t spoken since first semester of freshman year when we both took Speech 101.

“Yes,” I replied. We talked for a minute before retreating to our respective group of friends.

It occurred to me later that he probably didn’t remember my name. He just knew me as “the girl from The Collegian.”

That wasn’t the first time this newspaper had been my sole identification. When a friend introduced me as Heather to a couple of friends last summer, one knew my last name. I had never seen this guy before, but he recognized me from the paper.

I guess that kind of identification comes with tenure.

The summer before my freshman year, my father, who graduated from SDSU with a journalism degree, told me I had to work at the university newspaper to gain experience. Within my first week at SDSU, I applied for a job as a reporter. I have been involved with The Collegian in some shape or form since.

Working at The Collegian sucks. The pay is so bad that most of us have second jobs to pay rent. We don’t sleep Tuesday nights and usually work 30 hours a week. Friendships, GPAs and health suffer as they are put on the back burner. Some people don’t treat us with respect because we aren’t a “real” newspaper. And anytime we make a mistake, at least 20 people will scold us for carelessness and recommend that we put more effort into our work.

Yet, being at The Collegian has been the single most rewarding experience of my college career. I have experienced some amazing things that most students don’t even have the opportunity to do. Indianapolis Colts kicker and former Jackrabbit Adam Vinatieri called me for an interview while I was doing French homework. Former President Peggy Miller gave me interior design tips as we toured Woodbine Cottage and her Volga home. And my favorite story that I wrote for The Collegian-about married student-athletes who have a one-year-old-was recognized by a professional journalism organization.

As a journalist, I learned more in a tiny office in The Union basement than in highly sophisticated classrooms. And anytime I thought about a different career, The Collegian reminded me I am reporter at heart.

I have also met some amazing aspiring journalists through The Collegian. My fellow staff members have become some of my best friends because they understand what I go through unlike anyone else. These are lifelong friends.

But the greatest thing about The Collegian is the person it has transformed me into today. I now have the confidence to standup for what I believe in and tell someone when I think they are wrong. I now have the courage to chase dreams and the ability to laugh at myself when I fail.

The Collegian is my life, and I am terrified of what life will be like without it. I put my heart and soul into these pages. And if people don’t remember my name, but if they remember that, I will take it as a compliment.