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Telling our story

| Monday, March 6, 2017

Aug. 6, 2014.

That was the first time I ever heard of The Observer.

It was that day I got an email from a Lesley Stevenson — sent through a separate listserv — offering the an opportunity to write for the paper’s News department. I had always liked writing, so I thought about it for two days before responding:

“Dear Mrs. Stevenson … ”

You see, the thought never crossed my mind that a student newspaper would be run by, well, students. Not even after she responded to my email did I pick up on that fact, as I proceeded to tell her that, “I hope I didn’t offend you by calling you Mrs. Stevenson,” given she was signing her emails by her first name. At that point, she was kind enough to clue me in on the fact that she was a junior.

Besides willingly embarrassing myself, I share this story because it was the first lesson I learned about the The Observer: the story of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s both starts and ends with students.

That story started 175 years ago, and The Observer has played a part in the last 50 of them. And that role has been an instrumental part of the story, because its the one dictated by the very people whose story is being told.

There’s a lot of work that goes into putting a paper out each and every night of the school week. And over the last 2 1/2 years, I’ve seen firsthand just how many dedicated people it takes to accomplish the feat. But that dedication brings us together, and it forms a familial bond that will never be broken. Over my time as a member of The Observer, I’ve met incredible people and been fortunate enough to form life-long friendships — the type of friendships that make the good times great and the tough times tolerable. And I bet I’m not the only one in a 50-year history who can say that.

But just as incredible is what our work means; everyone brings their unique voices and talents together for a common purpose: telling the story of two diverse student bodies. And we are not the only ones who get to tell it. Whether its writing a letter to the editor or sharing the articles that matter to them on Facebook, the students of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s play their role too in telling the stories of their campuses.

So yes, it felt like a lot of work when I sent the paper down by myself for the first time early Friday morning. And yes, the rather small Margaret Hynds left with me with some incredibly big shoes to fill given the phenomenal example she and her staff set with their work over this past year. But as I sit here trying to organize my thoughts, I’m reminded of that very first encounter I had with The Observer.

Because I’m just one of the many students who play a role in stories at Notre Dame’s and Saint Mary’s. It’s a story we at The Observer are honored to be a part of. And because of the many incredible people I get the pleasure of working with over the next year, it’s also one I’m excited to have the chance to tell.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Benjamin Padanilam

Ben is a senior and The Observer’s former Editor-in-Chief, now serving as its interim Sports Editor. He is in the Program of Liberal Studies (PLS) and also pursuing minors in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) and Business Economics. He hails from Toledo, Ohio, and has enjoyed the few highs and many lows of being a Cleveland sports fan.

Contact Benjamin