by Grace Hatton, Reverb Editor
When I transferred to the Echo newspaper crew my sophomore year at Wilson I didn’t know what to expect. I was a creative writing major but had no prior experience with journalism or working in a newspaper environment. I approached the job with a reserved enthusiasm and quiet optimism. During the beginning of my career at the Echo I was careful not to expose my lack of knowledge in certain areas of newspaper production or my uneasiness at interviewing strangers for stories.
Yet as I began to work on stories, conduct research, and interview members of the Wilson community I found my rhythm within the crew and all of a sudden technical terms such as the budget, bylines, heads and decks didn’t seem nearly as intimidating. Within a few weeks of working for the Echo I had lost my worries and discovered something I’d always suspected, that I loved journalism. But more than that I discovered I loved covering the people, curiosities and events specific to the Wilson community.
During my first few weeks of learning on the Echo crew one of the major aspects that allowed me to transition from a nervous fumbling newbie to a confident crew member was the mentorship I received from the more experienced members of the crew. One of these mentors, although she may not realize she’s served in that capacity, is Micah Wilkins. When I joined the Echo Micah served as the web editor and has since become our fearless leader, the Editor-in-Chief.
Hailing from Kansas City, Missouri, Micah was drawn to Wilson because of its work program. “I was a seventeen year old girl in Midwestern city who went to an all girl Catholic school and I was surrounded by a lot of privilege,” Micah said. “Most people around me had always had things handed to them, myself included, and I wanted to work really hard in college. To have a lot expected of me was really appealing to me.”
Micah suspected she would be placed on the Echo crew as she had served as the Arts and Entertainment editor for her high school newspaper. Sure enough Micah was placed on the Echo as a staff writer her first semester at Wilson and she knew it was where she wanted to be.
“I came in thinking, I want to be on the Echo,” Micah said. “This is what I know how to do. This is what I want to learn more about. This is what I want to spend the next four years, or I guess the rest of my life, doing.”
Micah began as a staff writer before being promoted to web and multimedia editor in her sophomore year and, in her junior year, she was promoted to Editor-in-Chief. And throughout her different roles within the crew Micah has maintained her love for the crew, writing and Wilson.
“Covering this campus really makes me fall in love with it all the time,” Micah said. “It’s so cool to be able to learn about this community and interview passionate people. Working for the Echo gives you an opportunity to get to know parts of the campus you wouldn’t otherwise get to know. It gives you excuse to be curious and have that curiosity spring into a written piece and that’s my job, its crazy.”
Micah has also enjoyed taking on editorial responsibilities.
“The other part of the Echo I’ve enjoyed, surprisingly, is being an editor and a crew boss. I’ve learned so much from the people on this crew,” Micah said. “ I just hope I’ve been an advocate for students on the crew because the work program is about learning not just working. I just hope I’ve helped to facilitate that learning.”
A history major and creative writing minor Micah has been interning at the Mountain Xpress this semester as she prepares to graduate in December. Micah’s plans for life after Wilson are still in the process of being made.
“I’m hopeful. I’ve been applying for jobs and internships but I’m in no rush. I want to enjoy these last few weeks of my life as a college student,” Micah said.
One internship Micah applied for at her hometown paper, the Kansas City Star, was recently met with rejection as the newspaper was only looking for students coming from journalism programs. However, Micah insists she is happy she chose Wilson over a journalism program at another school.
“They said they were only accepting seniors in journalism programs, and, just for that day, it made me question why I came here, honestly,” Micah said. “But Warren Wilson has made me a better journalist and a better person than any journalism school ever could. Being a journalist is about being a reasonable, just and holistic person. Wilson has made me that holistic person over the years.”
After Micah graduates in December I will be taking over as Editor-in-Chief for my final semester at Wilson before my own graduation in May. When I asked Micah for advice about how to be a successful editor, she didn’t tell me about deadlines, enforcing rules or the quirks of the job. Instead, she urged me to “not get caught up in the product, but focus on the producers of that product.
“As an editor your most important role is being an advocate for the students on the crew, making sure that everyone is learning, communicating and having fun. It’s about making sure everyone is feeling fulfilled.”
And Micah, without knowing it, has done that for me. She’s advocated for my own growth on the crew as I transitioned from staff writer, to social media coordinator, to multimedia editor and now to Editor-in-Chief. She, along with others, has allowed me to flourish on the Echo, and under her direction, the Echo has not only become a credible news source on campus, it has also become a crew I consider a home. I can only hope that in the spring I can be as an effective and charming Editor-in-Chief as the unassuming, but nonetheless amazing blonde from the Midwest, commonly known as Micah Wilkins.