Posted by Bhargav Arimilli
When I’m sitting at the desk in the corner of the Mercury office, I see blurs through the window. This is what daily life is like for a UTD student – fleeting, ephemeral. Our job at The Mercury, UT Dallas’ student-run newspaper, is to capture these moments and uncover the stories around them. The Mercury office, like the greater UT Dallas community, is in a constant state of flux; people weave in and out, bringing with them tidbits of news and stories from all corners of campus. To me, the Mercury office is more than just an office. It’s grown to become my Room of Requirement – a place to buckle down and study for finals, a place to have a quick lunch, or a place just to relax.
I was introduced to The Mercury on my first day of McDermott orientation. My group leader was about to take us to the next location on our schedule, but I stayed back and spoke to the managing editor about openings for freshmen. She mentioned they were looking for writers. I hadn’t considered writing as an extracurricular because I was so set on following a STEM path throughout college.
Writing my first article was a nerve-wracking experience, primarily because there was (and still is) a sense of weight that came with seeing my name printed in the paper. I was assigned an article about student reactions to presidential debates. Frankly, I wasn’t a very political person, so I didn’t know where to begin. I met with my editor, who was incredibly helpful and more than willing to give me a few pointers. After four interviews, several rounds of editing, and hours spent agonizing over structure and syntax, I had a finished piece.
As the semester progressed, I found myself spending more and more time in the office. I’d pop in whenever I had a free hour and hang out with the editors and writers. I appreciated the fact that I could find both quiet solace and lively conversation in that space. My twin brother, a computer science major, joined as the web editor. We’ve become much closer by working on the paper. The Mercury has become another (literal and figurative) family for me.
Working for a newspaper taught me to be more aware of my surroundings. It forced me to go beyond my comfort zone and meet new people, particularly people in different fields or career paths that I may not otherwise associate with. Conducting interviews gives me the opportunity to explore parts of the school I wouldn’t otherwise be in, like the Arts and Technology building or the School of Management. As a chemistry major, I spend a good deal of time taking classes and doing research within the School of Natural Science and Mathematics, which can feel overwhelming at times. I find that writing for the newspaper provides a necessary balance.
The most surprising result of working for the newspaper is that it’s given me a newfound sense of love and admiration for UT Dallas. I’ve been able to interview so many students and faculty doing incredible things. For example, I wrote a profile on students taking active roles in presidential campaigns, conducted a Q&A about the recent discovery of gravitational waves with a physics professor specializing in that area, and wrote a feature on ATEC students producing video games for real-world publication. I can’t wait to learn more about the amazing things that our campus is doing. The UTD community is active, passionate, and innovative. The Mercury has given me so many opportunities to see this first-hand.