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The Villanovan

The Villanovan

Student Journalism: The Highlight of My College Career

Graydon Paul / Villanovan Photography
The 2022-2023 staff of The Villanovan, with McFarlane pictured front row, third from the left.

I joined The Villanovan in the height of Covid. Freshman year for me was done from home via Zoom, and I had major FOMO about not being on campus. Had I really made the right decision about staying home and saving thousands on housing? 

Wanting to keep writing, but also wanting to connect with other like-minded students, I eagerly joined The Villanovan and began to write in earnest through the entire semester. I had messaged the Editor-in-Chief at the time the summer before freshman year started (looking back now—way too desperate and cringey), wanting to learn everything there was to know about the paper. 

I covered any story I could get my hands on—SGA meetings, Covid updates, webinars hosted by different departments. As a part of the news section, I felt responsible for educating fellow Villanovans on all things Villanova for the week, and as I got more comfortable with writing, I was willing to take on bigger stories each week. I soon rose to front-page status, and I still have a copy of the first issue of the paper with a front-page article written by me. 

By sophomore year, I had a good relationship with my editors (shoutout Sarahs) but realized, since the eldest of the two was only a year older than me, there would not be an editorial opening for me on the newspaper until the end of my junior year. Resigned, I kept writing, going to events, building my contacts in the community and enjoying the grind of student journalism. 

By the end of sophomore year, I had met our wonderful advisor, Mr. Bradley, and the most amazing Editors-in-Chief, who have since become close friends of mine, Vivi and Colin. We chatted about wanting to be journalists, about ideas to get more writers and how the news section could become a force to be reckoned with. 

A few months later, the summer before junior year, Vivi and Colin hopped on a group FaceTime call with me to ask me the most important question of my life up to that point. “If you could describe yourself as any animal, what would it be?” It was the hallmark question of the section editor interview. Without an opening, Vivi and Colin took a leap of faith on me and added me to the news team. 

They liked what they saw from me, and I was eager to prove them right. I took on my new role with gusto, covering Hoops Mania with the youngest Sarah and meeting Meek Mill within my first month and a half on the job. 

From Hoops Mania, to a presidential speech at Philadelphia’s historic city hall, to student-led protests, to interviewing Father Peter and many more amazing opportunities that I will never forget, The Villanovan has led me down so many paths I never thought could be possible in my life, let alone as a student journalist.

The Sarahs gave me a great foundation to move forward as the veteran editor of the news section, allowing me to take Hannah and Arden under my wing and cultivate their skills as student journalists in their new roles as my co-editors. 

Tuesday nights became my favorite of the week, and I looked forward to putting together pages and being a nerd—consequence-free—around my fellow student journalists. I finally felt like I belonged at Villanova. Production was a chance to hang out with my friends and share the juiciest news from the week, while updating each other on our lives, talking about the latest Taylor Swift album, swapping advice about classes or relationships or roommates and overall, bonding in a way that I had not experienced before. 

I joined The Villanovan because I knew I liked to write, and now I am leaving it heading rapidly into my dream career as a political journalist with a group of amazing newspaper dorks I call my closest friends as supporters. 

My fellow seniors, I am so glad we have been through this journey together, and I wish you all the best of luck going forward, although there is not a more talented, more deserving group of people than all of you, and I know there are bright things ahead for all of us. 

Seventeen-year-old Lydia would never believe she received newspaper cords and a group of amazing friends out of being her weird, nerdy, news-obsessed self. But here I am now – 21, still dorky and awkward and even more obsessed with all things newsy, and that is my reality. The Villanovan was, without a doubt, the most important, formative part of my time at Villanova. Villanova would not have been Villanova for me without the student newspaper, and I am honored to have been a part.

Lydia McFarlane, News Editor, signing off for good this time. To The Villanovan and the people I’ve done it with, you have changed my life.

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About the Contributor
Lydia McFarlane
Lydia McFarlane, Co-News Editor
Lydia McFarlane is one of three Co-News Editors for 2023 after starting as a Co-News Editor in the summer of 2022. Lydia is a senior double majoring in Communication and Political Science. She is also minoring in Russian Area Studies. Lydia is active in several cultural organizations at Villanova, and hopes to combine her talents in journalism with her passion for social justice. Lydia's writing has also appeared in The Hill, Education Week and Resolve Philadelphia.
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    Sarah SweeneyMay 1, 2024 at 11:28 am

    Never forget Meek Mill (and his cousin)! Love you so much Lydia You are one of the most talented journalists I know, and it was a pleasure working with you. Can’t wait to read your articles for years to come.