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Four Years at the Mount

Junior Year

The Paper Gave to Me...

Kyle Ott
MSM Class of 2015

(12/2013) When I was in elementary school, we read a peculiar story called "The Gift of The Magi" by Old Henry. I remember sitting there in the library, cross-legged on the carpet square I had carried with me and just wondering at the love that two people could bear for one another. Something about the piece resonated with me, and even then, before I had decided that I wanted to write for a living (heck, before I had even considered making a living at all) that story resonated with me. Old Henry had struck some primal chord in my mind that just seemed to stick, and I remembered that tale even when all the other little details about my earlier life started to fade.

Years have passed now, but that story still resonates with me. In an age where most people are concerned with beating the lines on Black Friday, making sure they find a nice Christmas tree, or catching every single re-rerun of How The Grinch Stole Christmas (which I could never blame them for), I start thinking about that story and whether or not someone could give a gift that meant so much. For me, that gift came from Mike Hillman, the editor of this paper and a great mentor. It truly is the most terrifying of things when youíre a young freshman and you inform upperclassmen youíll be pursuing an English major, and they laugh. Itís a scary world out there, and jobs are getting fewer and fewer while the demand for them is getting higher. Imagine, just starting out in college and already wondering what the heck youíre going to do with your life. About a week in, I received a call from Mike (who I had never met before) telling me that not only had I secured the job, but I was also working for an editor who had flunked English in college. A while back I wrote a lovely article about the relationship that Mike and I have Ė hint: itís more like Abbot and Costello then an editor and writer. However, this time I want to focus on the gift that itís been to be able to write for a paper that I like as much as the Emmitsburg News-Journal.

The first thing I love is the people. When you have the chance to work closely with a group of talented individuals like the ones we have, it is challenging, wonderful, and at times incredibly funny. In particular, I relish the moments when everyone is sitting in the library, waiting for Mike to walk in so our monthly meeting can start. Almost every time we have a staff meeting, Mike will walk in, take a seat, and then ask us a question. Sometimes the question is an obvious one about history that we should probably know (the anniversary of JFKís assassination), and sometimes itís something that no one would ever care to remember (how long a particular tri-state drought has lasted for instance). Before he arrives, we all have the chance to place bets on what kind of question heíll ask and if any of us will immediately know the answer. Spoiler alert: we never do. Although we never actually guess the answer correctly, itís wonderful to laugh and joke about whatís coming down the line.

The second of the paperís little gifts is the opportunity to do real, meaningful writing and get paid to do it. Itís a running joke on the Internet that every other person who wants to be a writer goes on to work in a coffee shop while perpetually working on a "novel" that they never finish. With all those things in mind, I actually feel lucky every time I sit down to write something that I not only love, but that I also know people read. Weíre blessed with a phenomenal readership, and itís humbling to think that someone out there takes time to sit down and read what I have to say about life every month. People go through life constantly trying to find something that will make a difference, or at the very least affect someone in some small way, and Iíd like to think that I have just a little bit.

Read other articles by Kyle Ott