COLUMN: Leaving UI, The Daily Illini and reporting

By Meghan O'Kelly

I was asked to write this column not because I have ever written an opinion piece or have particularly articulate ones, at that. I am the lone graduating senior on the news staff of The Daily Illini, one of few upperclassmen who have not assumed an editor position at this publication.

My other interests have occupied my time during my four years here, and I was able to serve as an executive board member of my sorority, study abroad and hold various campus jobs while reporting for the newspaper.

I loved navigating the bureaucracy of the University, nagging various administrators and interviewing students walking down the street. I can find nearly any statistic about this place, and I have developed strong relationships with sources such as administrators and staff members; however, I find that it is rare that a campus landlord agrees to be quoted in one of my stories.

My roommates often refer to my reporting as my “secret life,” as my excursions have taken me to court, student-administrator forums and the offices of some of the University’s most important decision makers.

Writing for The Daily Illini has given me the opportunity to not only step outside, but also live outside the bubble of the Greek community that I think fraternity and sorority members all too often find themselves in.

I feel lucky to have experienced and interacted with a wide range of campus community members, and I have a strong sense of confidence in both my peers and the direction of the University as a whole.

I will be starting a full-time corporate communications position in a few short weeks, which in journalism, we call the “dark side.”

Although I may be entering this “dark side” and abandoning my journalistic responsibility of informing and educating the public that the journalism department has ingrained in me, I see a bright future to which I will be able to credit the University of Illinois.