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Graduating Campanil staff say their final goodbyes: Lauren Sliter

Lauren-Marie Sliter.
Lauren-Marie Sliter.

Throughout my life, the most important lesson I have learned is that family is more than simple blood relation and home is not necessarily where you were born and raised. Being adopted by the most loving and special people was the beginning of this lesson. Finding a place like Mills and a passion like journalism were the culmination.

Home is a place you can be yourself. It is where you can grow and change without being afraid to fail. It is where you find comfortand peace.

I fell in love with Mills the day my mom and I visited the campus for an accepted students tour. Driving through the flourishing trees on Richards Road for the first time, I felt like I was home already. Four years later and I haven’t once questioned that feeling.

I did not want to go to an all-girls school. Eighteen-year-old me envisioned the children of my past, friends and foes, who were self obsessed and cruel, all bundled together into a tiny private school; a perfect recipe for disaster in my mind. But my mom made me apply. And I am so very grateful she did. What I dreaded was an all-girls school, but what I fell in love with was a women’s college.

And, almost immediately, I also fell in love with journalism. As I’m sure many of our readers know from my past two columns as editor in chief of The Campanil, my first introduction to journalism was in Meredith May’s Journalism 1 class at Mills. It was absolutely terrifying. And I loved every minute of it.

It was during that first fall at Mills that I published with The Campanil. I championed over my social anxiety and my irrational fear of talking on the phone to write several stories, all of which wound up in the newspaper. I had never been so proud of my own work than when I saw my first stories printed in The Campanil.

The second semester of my first year was when I truly became a member of The Campanil staff. I was offered a position as calendar editor. Not super exciting, but I had an opportunity to work with other brilliant writers and editors and to travel to two collegiate media conferences. I learned so much from those trips and they inspired me to pump some life into what had been a stagnant calendar section by keeping track of campus crime and safety. And so, the Events and Information Page was born. That was all in 2010.

Three years later, I really just want to be the calendar editor again. It would be better than saying goodbye.

Family is being there for someone even when you do not want to. It is loving someone so much that even their worst flaws are beautiful. And it is knowing when someone needs you without them asking.

The newspaper is a part of my family now. Every member of its staff, old and new, has been there for me when times became unbearably hard. These amazing writers have loved me, even when I spent an hour ripping their stories apart and putting them back together. Or when I called them up telling them half their section was blank and needed more content. Or when I asked for their help with student government and administrative woes.

My advisors are not simply liaisons between myself and graduation requirements, they are dear friends and true inspirations.

Fred Lawson enlightened me with his international relations courses and his passion for truly amazing research and writing. And his support has followed me all four years at Mills, allowing me to succeed even through challenges I thought insurmountable.

Sarah Pollock pushed me to become the writer I am today. She not only believes in me as a journalist, but as a human being, too. Knowing she was there, behind me 100% at all times, was what allowed me to take The Campanil to new heights and to take new risks in my writing and editing.

So, too, the Division of Student Life at Mills has followed me through the hardest year of my life, beginning with emergency surgery and ending with the loss of my father. Every step of the way Kennedy Golden and her colleagues have ensured that I could succeed at Mills, regardless of my situation. I am so grateful for their endless support.

But I am also not that surprised by it.

My first day on campus, even though it was a simple tour of Mills, I felt the love and energy that resonates throughout this school. I knew from that day forward that I would be taken care of at Mills and that I would find a family in its students, faculty and staff and a home within its gates.