I first entered Reilly Mullen’s office as a wide-eyed staff writer.
Terrified of the idea that my new editor-in-chief wouldn’t like me, I walked through her office doors with sweaty hands and shaky legs. As I looked around anxiously, I made eye contact with the miniature Squishmallows adorning her shelves.
They almost seemed as scared as I was, but I could’ve been projecting.
I also took note of the several half-finished Dunkin’ coffees that decorated her otherwise professional-looking desk.
With just a few short glances, I realized that Reilly and I might have more in common than I had originally thought.
But seven months later, after numerous editors’ meetings together, I no longer feel that way.
Reilly and I do not have much in common at all. At least where it counts.
Reilly’s patience level is unmatched. Constantly surrounded by a whirlwind of half-written articles and rapidly approaching deadlines, she continues to find order in the chaos. No matter how loud the staff is, or how off topic we stray, Reilly reminds us to stay on task with a stern, yet always friendly, “Hello, friends!”
In moments that I, no doubt, would have let my anger bubble to the surface, Reilly remains seemingly unbothered by the madness of The Spectrum newsroom.
Where Reilly writes beautifully crafted columns, I use The Spectrum’s opinion page to vent. Even when taking on controversial and emotional topics, such as racism or gender-oppression, Reilly is able to turn those emotions into something meaningful. She takes anger, rage and even poison and turns those feelings into something purposeful.
She is never scared to write about race in a predominately white room.
Despite being the only Black editor on staff, she is fearless in her pursuits and forever vulnerable in the way she shares her experiences. Being a writer of color is exhausting, yet Reilly makes it seem effortless.
Reilly is a teacher in areas where I am selfish. When writer’s block torments my tired mind, she is never short on ideas. I’ve grown a lot as a writer this year, but Reilly has ensured that I grow as a journalist and as a person too.
I’ve only known her for seven months, but Reilly has taught me more than any journalism class ever could. I’ve learned too much about frat parties and which ones to attend. I now know what a “garbage plate” is, thanks to The Spectrum’s very own Rochester-native. But most importantly, I know exactly what kind of editor I want to be.
We might both have a habit of buying coffee we can’t finish, share a mutual love for Squishmallow collecting and both frequent the same dirty-fraternity house.
But we don’t have much in common at all, at least where it counts.
All I can do is hope that after a few more years of experience, that will change.
Next year, when I enter Reilly Mullen’s old office, I’ll be a wide-eyed senior editor and a teary-eyed sophomore.
The Spectrum won’t be the same without her.
Kayla Estrada is an assistant news/features editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kayla Estrada is a senior news/features editor at The Spectrum. She is an English major who enjoys rainy weather, “Bob’s Burgers” and asking people who they voted for. When she’s not writing, she can be found hunting for odd-looking knick-knacks at the nearest thrift store.