How my determination led to success

For a student, nothing is more frustrating than thinking you’re done with homework, or a project only to figure out you messed up and need to start over.

After about a semester of reporting, this is exactly what happened with my article, “Isolated: International Students not Integrated.”

I had spoken with administration and students, gathered data and made graphs. I crafted something long and well-worded that I thought expressed my message well.

But when I showed it to the editors above me, they told me it wasn’t ready. There were holes in the story; we’d catch flack for lack of clarity and UB opinion. My heart was broken – I thought I was done, yet I basically had to start all over.

A lot of this frustration stemmed from the fact it was other students who told me my piece wasn’t ready. How did they know better? Sure, they had a little more experience, but didn’t they understand how hard I had worked. I left school as summer break came and didn’t touch the piece.

I began to slowly work at it again my junior year, getting interviews here and there. I lost passion for the piece and felt myself hitting dead end after dead end. No one would give me any sort of budget – administration was hard to meet with and I was becoming self-conscious over how long the piece was taking me to write. I promised drafts that went nowhere; my story was barely moving. I presented something at the end of the year, but I knew the story wasn’t ready.

In the fall I interviewed more students and sought more vigorous help from the journalism advisor, Jody Biehl. After more interviews and research, I was ready to run the piece at the end of fall 2016. When the day came though, Jody, the editor-in-chief Gabi and I were all hesitant. Jody still felt that there were holes in the story. We didn’t have great pictures for the article and we were missing a more compelling narrative. Once again, I was extremely disappointed.

It was at this point that I made a decision.

I could work until the piece was ready, or in my last semester I could give up and work on something else.

I decided to push forward. I set up more interviews, took photos and searched for a more compelling narrative. We set a date – the International issue – as the goal to run the piece. Last Wednesday, we ran around taking more pictures, talking to more students and pulling together all of the writing. After reading the article about 15 times, finally, we drafted it in the paper.

It was done.

I can say I feel relieved, which I do, but more than anything I am excited. Now, I can finally work on something else. I have a renewed passion for journalism and writing. I cannot wait for what’s ahead.

So thank you, to everyone who had patience with me. Thank you to everyone who spoke to me – even if you didn’t make it into the final article, you provided context and information that was completely necessary. Thank you to everyone who read some of the countless drafts I wrote and believed in this piece.

Above everything, an enormous thank you to Jody Biehl. I would not be the writer I am today, the newspaper would not be what it is without you and I only hope to be half the journalist you are. This piece would not have come together without you.

To everyone who reads my article – please, appreciate the work that went into crafting this.

Tori is the managing editor and can be reached at