"News is the first rough draft of history."

The Voice of the College at Florham

"News is the first rough draft of history." - The Voice of the College at Florham

From the editor’s desk: It’s never easy saying goodbye


I honestly have no idea what I’m doing with my life, but I better figure it out quickly because I’m graduating at the end of this semester.

Although I am relieved to be graduating in February so there is (hopefully) less competition in the job market, I’m actually sad about it. I’m not exactly ready to leave FDU and The Pillar just yet.

I think part of it has to do with the fact that I didn’t start at FDU right away. I’ve been to two other colleges/universities since I graduated high school in 2009.

I began my undergraduate studies at a small liberal arts college in Virginia, but I wasn’t happy. During my semester and three weeks at the college, I realized it wasn’t for me. It was too cliquey and reminded me of high school. I didn’t enjoy middle and high school, and I thought if I went to school in New Jersey that I’d be with the same people I went to school with for seven years, so I started looking into colleges out-of-state.

Little did I know, the “right” place for me was just 40 minutes away from my house this entire time.
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From the editor’s desk: Things change, but I’m okay with that


The majority of the time I have difficulty expressing myself, which is probably a bad thing since I am a writer. Maybe it’s the sleep deprivation that’s making it so difficult.

Or maybe I just don’t enjoy it anymore.

A lot of things have changed in the last year that I often blame as my reason for not writing as often as I used to, outside of reporting or writing poems for my poetry class.

It’s a strange feeling when people all but disappear from your life. When it happens gradually, you almost don’t notice it, but when it happens instantaneously you feel as though you’re alone in the middle of a ghost town at night. Maybe that’s just me who feels that way. There’s only so many one-sided conversations you can possibly have.

I came across a quotation that probably sums it up better than I possibly could. In “Cakes and Ale: Or, the Skeleton in the Cupboard,” W. Somerset Maugham wrote, “It’s no good trying to keep up old friendships. It’s painful for both sides. The fact is, one grows out of people, and the only thing is to face it.”
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Personal essay: Finding ways to make the intangible tangible

Senior Editor

Sophomore year of college, my roommate Hillary Brewer and I decided to take our relationship to the next level… and get a hamster.

It seemed like the perfect kind of a pet for the broke, irresponsible, still-wet-behind-the-ears college students that we were, and the kind of lifestyle that we were living.

A lifestyle that I can’t share all of the details of, but that I will say included copious amounts of gin and seltzer (flavored). The Roots. Samantha Reba. The phrase “Cheers, Gov’na!” Beds pushed together. Legs crossed, Indian style on the floor, on beds, on the grass. Leah Heffernan. Chinese food. Laughter. College sweatshirts with the hood up, indoors. Empty water bottles. Rosy cheeks. A whole lot of love.
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From the editor’s desk: Graduating seniors ready to do great things


One of my editors asked me, “Do you think that our newspaper is a good one?”
I hesitated a moment before I answered.

In that moment, I knew exactly where he was coming from. How could we, as a staff, be proud of the newspaper that we’re not sure other people even recognized? Of course people know we have a newspaper, but it’s hard to tell with the overflowing issues that are piled in the NAB.

In that moment, which probably only lasted a second or two, I realized that this idea of being proud of this newspaper is something that reflects my entire four years at this university.

For four years, I crept in shadows.
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From the editor’s desk: Change might distract some, inspire others


In the words of one of my favorite bands, Envy On The Coast: “No, I’m not afraid, at least not to die. I’m afraid to live and not remember why.”

EOTC couldn’t have put it any better. And, quite frankly, that verse from their song “Lapse” has become a phrase I’ve learned to live by.

We all know that life has its purpose.

Some of us find that purpose a lot sooner than others and it’s a damn shame that others may go their whole lives not knowing what that purpose was.

I’m convinced that the only thing standing between us and our purpose in life is ourselves. We stand as our own ironic distraction to our own happiness.

Too many of us are afraid of the inevitable, of the obstacles that get in the way of finding our purpose. Sometimes, we get so distracted by letdowns and setbacks that we forget an obstacle never means the end of the world. It might just mean a different world where we start seeing things differently – and that’s okay. Change is constant; change is good. Like obstacles, change is inevitable. So is death, and we can’t be afraid of that.

I don’t think we should be afraid of anything, but if we were afraid of something it should be living our whole lives not knowing that life’s worth living. And we can only know that life is worth living when we find our purpose – when we realize exactly what it is that keeps us waking up every morning.

This thing I call purpose changes. What made our lives worth living at the age of 2, 10 or 20 years old will be different from the thing that makes life worth living when we’re 40, 60 or even 80 years old. For example, when we’re toddlers, everything makes our day: playing with a toy truck; blowing a dandelion; speeding down a slide. When we’re that young, it’s hard not to find something that fascinates us. It might just be that the world is a large place that we’re progressively discovering and the route of discovery is a child’s purpose.

As we grow older, unfortunately, our world seems to shrink. Things that once amused us don’t anymore. Some of us, in a sense, become jaded along the way. Others start finding purpose in other things. Maybe it’s something we love to do like playing the guitar, playing soccer or even going to school. We stick with that thing we love, and for a while it becomes our purpose, too.

This purpose keeps changing. One day it can be getting into our dream school or making the winning goal in a soccer game, and other days it could be seeing the smile on our niece’s face. One day it will be seeing the smile on a newborn’s face or our future wife or husband. Our purpose changes, and it’s supposed to.

The truth is that life is filled with exciting chapters that we should be excited to write. We should be grateful to even be able to turn that page.

My point is that we can’t go our whole lives pretending to be happy. We have to find happiness in whatever makes us… happy. Some people seem to complicate happiness and try to force it. But, you can’t do that, either.

Those 17 little words from EOTC could mean 17 different things to 17 different people. But, to me, they mean one thing. They mean that you can’t live your life on autopilot. You should always be doing something you love, and if you’re not, then change it. The only person standing between you the thing you love is you.

Change is inevitable, but we can control it.

From the editor’s desk: From a resident to a commuter


When my not-so-glamorous life is broken down into tasks, I start to wonder how I haven’t gone insane.

Bear with me: 1. Monday: wake up; take bus to New York City; intern; take bus home; drive to FDU; go to meeting; work on newspaper layout; drive home. 2. Tuesday: wake up; drive to FDU; go to class; drive home. 3. Wednesday: wake up; drive to FDU; go to class; go to meeting; go home. 4. Thursday: wake up; drive to FDU; go to class; drive home. 5. Friday: wake up; take bus to NYC; intern; take bus home. 6. Saturday: SLEEP. 7. Sunday: wake up; drive to FDU; work on layout; drive home. 8. Repeat.

Part of me wants to run in the opposite direction when I think of this semester and all the things that come with it, while another part of me can’t wait to say, “I did it,” when it’s all over.

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From the editor’s desk: Turning dreams into reality at 475 10th Avenue


It was a cold, frosty morning when I got off the bus two Fridays ago at the Port Authority Bus Terminal. It was even colder once I stepped out onto 8th Avenue and felt the polluted NYC air.

Until that exact moment, I almost forgot how much I hated the cold.

Once I confirmed which direction led me towards Chelsea, I started to walk, bundled under layers of newly bought clothing and covered from head-to-toe with only my eyes visible to strangers.

I walked as fast as I could with only a single thought in mind: the faster I get to 475 10th Avenue, the less time I’ll have to spend in this cold.
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From the editor’s desk: One more chance, one last chance


Oct. 19 is a date that has been glued in my memory for months now – since last spring when coach handed us the preliminary season schedule.
Today, as I write this, is that day.

My nerves are tensing and I can’t find the words I want.

It’s Oct. 19. Senior Day. A day that every college athlete recognizes, appreciates and dreads all at the same time.

Senior Day, for anyone who isn’t familiar with the life of an athlete, is usually the last home game of the season where the team recognizes their remaining seniors. I say remaining because my class started out with ten girls. Emily, Nicole and I are now the three lone seniors of the Continue reading

From the editor’s desk: To you


Since this is probably the last thing I will have published for some time, I will be careful not to waste my words.

This column has provided me with an appropriate outlet to express myself when I felt it necessary, and while I appreciate that opportunity for independent thought, I would like to dedicate this last piece of space to the people in my life who have always, and will always, be there when I need to vent.

This column has been there for me for a year. You will all be there for me for the rest of my life.

I have been blessed in so many ways, not limited to the work I have been able to complete in my time here as Editor-in-Chief. I’ve watched my last full year of college fly by me faster than any of the 21 years previous, and it’s eerie how quickly the hands on the clock seem to be gaining momentum as I get older.

Two life-altering experiences have happened to me this year that will ensure that I will change for the better.

This year, I learned the meaning of hard work. Hard work, in the purest sense, is giving everything you have to something. You give so much and so freely that in the end you forget what you’ve given. If you were to ask me what was on the front page of a recent issue, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. But if you put that issue in my hands I could probably tell you what nightmares we faced trying to get it out.

The responsibilities of being Editor-in-Chief have caused me to be in such a state of hyperfocus that the only elements of it I have internalized were the circumstances that were wholly outside of myself. The rest of the experience was me, and what I chose to give to it, which was everything I had. Thus, the whole year just seems like a blur.

I think that the reason it’s been hard for me to put this year in perspective is because I gave it my all and, as with everything else in life, it’s hard to fully separate yourself from something that is truly a part of you.

For better or for worse, each of the 17 issues I published this year has been a part of me. Now that it’s over, I have only just started to take a step back and reflect on what has happened. The reason I am able to do that now is because it’s over. Only when a big part of your life vanishes, never to be seen again, are you inspired to ponder what that missing piece had meant to you. Only when that happens do you take stock of what is left in the wake of the departure and consider how valuable it is.

Relinquishing my position at The Pillar is an example of how loss causes reflection.

Saying goodbye to my grandfather, who passed away on April 13, provides another one.

My grandfather, Thomas Ford, was a wonderful person whose life had a distinct impact on my own. If he wasn’t the man he was, I certainly wouldn’t be the man I am today. In fact, if he hadn’t been such a guiding presence in my life I know I wouldn’t even be able to confidently call myself a man in the first place. I have a pit in my stomach thinking about how much more I could have given him in his time here. What turns the pit into a black hole is knowing that this realization didn’t crystallize in my mind until he was gone.

The truth is what I used in an attempt to comfort my family at the wake and the funeral.
Being a journalist, I’m pompous enough to think that the truth is one of my specialties. I told them it was the right time for him to go. He was 79 with a slew of previous health problems and hospitalizations. He was a man with nine lives who had finally used them all up. At least he got to see all his grandchildren settled in college and pursuing careers, I said. At least he was able to witness our lives beginning as his came to a close. Even though I believe this is the truth, my sentiments were always prefaced with “at least,” as if these realizations had meant nothing in the wake of losing him. The truth is; they did mean nothing.

He was that important, that loved. His death, though ultimately expected, was not easier for anyone to bear. I had to ask myself “why is that?”

The answer I came up with was that humans, as a race, are never ready to consider mortality until it becomes offended at our ignorance and smacks us directly in the face.

Mortality is a concept that is so heavy, so nebulous, that you are incapable of truly wrestling with it unless someone you have loved for your entire life is lying stiff in a box, right in front of you. It is only then that you know that you will never, ever be able to see them again.

There’s an old saying that you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. I have always believed this since I was a little kid, but it’s as easy to forget as it is to believe. The components of a daily routine morph your aptitude to think about your life with gratitude into a fat, disgusting sense of entitlement.

When you lose power in a hurricane you never want to turn on a light more, never want to store something in the fridge more. But, instead, you find yourself emptying out the fridge in the darkness because you don’t have any other option. You recall while you are doing this how easy it is to take things for granted, how when something is there for you every day it becomes subject to neglect. This is certain for lights and refrigerators, and it takes on a whole new meaning when it pertains to people. Especially the ones we know in our hearts mean everything to us.

Despite the pain, going through the loss of my grandfather has ensured me that I won’t take anyone I love for granted, ever again. This column, this space in my life, is dedicated to everyone who stood by me this year. Every word that I have written is a pledge to you, and I hope that it will stand here forever in ink. So as one chapter ends for me and another begins, I promise, I will never forget you.

The fondest memories are those that you least expect; Even driving through Virginia can cause you to reassess your life


I remember being in the backseat of a Jeep, feeling really tired because I hadn’t slept in three days.

It was the beginning of summer, and the car was cutting westward through the wide, repetitive space of land known as Virginia.

I had the window down, and I leaned my head against the crook of the door. The wind whistled in an oddly soothing fashion as it whipped through my side, roughly tussling my hair before exiting abruptly through the opposite window. I didn’t like how this felt, so I slid my limp body up the doorframe until I could feel the warmth of the sun against my face.

I don’t know if the sun shines differently on a specific patch of Virginia highway, but on that particular day I would have been willing to make the argument.

Maybe it was because the summer was just beginning, maybe it was because I was in a car full of friends who had been talking about where we were heading for the previous year, but I’ve never felt the warmth of assurance in what I was doing like that before in my entire life.

The closest comparison I can make to what it felt like is taking a plunge into a freezing ocean on an extremely hot day.

It was receiving the instant sense of relief followed by a coaxing, radiant sensation when you reemerge and the heat in the air no longer bothers you. Rather, it invigorates you in the way you never thought a hot, sticky day could before you took that initial plunge.

It was that tingly sensation, paired with the wind, which due to my new posture was rushing unceasingly up through my nose and out of my mouth, that made me single out that point in time as worthy of remembering. It felt like a fire was nestling itself down deep into the back of my throat before I breathed it out. It was the strangest feeling.

With the rolling green hillsides streaking in and out of sight and the crisp air circulating in and out of my body and the sun caressing my cheeks affectionately, I felt like life itself was running through me just as surely as it was passing by outside of me.

It sounds crazy while I’m putting it down on paper, and my logical reaction to this whole episode as I write is that I was simply lucky not to have swallowed a bug. The only thing that I keep coming back to is the feeling, though, and I can feel it now just as strongly as I did on that day.

There has to be something to it.

Call me crazy, and maybe I am, but if being crazy is what caused me to feel that way on that particular day, I’m content with my insanity.

When I think back on that day, I try to recall it more within the scope of where I was in my life rather than the idea that the sun and air in Virginia possess some type of magical qualities. Although, this could be possible. Try driving through the place. It takes forever, bordering on infinity.

Some things are cliché for a reason, and sometimes it’s because they are the closest things we have to Universal Truths.

Road trips with good friends are one of these things. You’re leaving someplace where you have been imprisoned by circumstance, and you are heading to a destination that is offering you a promise.

If nothing else, it’s a promise that you’ll end up somewhere different than you were before.

The bonds of friendship strengthen as you all share the burden of getting to the destination, each of you with the same ends in mind and sharing the same sense of adventurous spirit that spurred on the whole trip in the first place. This sense of adventure pervades everything, and the relative sense of the unknown excites your world, while the familiarity with those you’re sharing the trip with provides the overall sense that everything is OK.

When you can find that type of symmetry in an otherwise chaotic existence, everyday things like the sun and the wind can take on their own spiritual forms of being. It’s funny what feeling purposeful can do to a person. Reflecting back on these types of experiences is life affirming, and I think that the affirmation of a meaningful existence is the stuff of the best memories.

If you’re still reading this and you think I’m crazy, I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with you.

I will say, however, that when my time is almost up and I’m remembering the things I am grateful for, I will not be ashamed to recall the day where the wind tasted like fire and the sun kissed me on the face. I prefer to think of these things as an indication that I’m doing something right.