So long, and thanks for all the fish

So long, and thanks for all the fish

It’s my last article in Paydirt, and yet there is so much more to say. Potential articles sit in their metaphorical archives, waiting to be taken off the shelves, polished up, and shown to the world (or at least NMT campus). Articles with titles like “Professors who brag about teaching difficult classes may actually just suck at teaching” and “Why Gen. Ed chemistry classes are bad for NMT” will be left unwritten. Paydirt and I will go our separate ways, and only one of us will have a tattoo to remember the other by.*

I first started working for Paydirt as a junior in 2017, as I was coming to terms with the fact that I should definitely not be an engineer. Physics confuses me, chemistry is witchcraft, and being a brilliant mathematician was more attractive as an idea than practice. But writing is legilimency. I can put words on paper, form a half coherent thought, then send that little piece of myself out into the public and hope someone likes it. That felt (and feels) like a skill worth improving.   

Hoping someone likes what I write comes from deciding in part of what to write about. Reporting the news is only one aspect of the job; trying to figure out why it was worth reporting and why the reader would care is what mattered the most. As a technical communication student, I’ve been taught to write with my audience in mind. The most important part of news then is why it matters to an NMT student. What are the implications? Why would someone at Tech care about drama in the SGA, or research going on around campus, or the Loma Theater reopening? My hope was the more the reader knew what was going on, the more experiences they could open themselves up to. It might improve someone’s experience at NMT.

Considering the implications of news was fun, but I enjoyed writing opinion pieces the most. I think it’s important to discuss all kinds of topics, no matter if it’s coming from a student newspaper. I wanted more than the typical ‘college life’ narrative. There’s nothing wrong with that, or course, but it leaves a lot unsaid about what the average college aged student is going through in other aspects of life. That’s why I wrote about dropping school. It’s important to remind unhappy students that there are other options, but that’s not discussed. For the same reason, I wrote an article a year ago on “taking advantage of youth” (intentionally vague). It was a reminder to readers (and myself) that part of growing is having a variety of experiences. The same goes for sharing some of my experiences abroad. It was to tell a story about life outside of a tech school. I never got to play a reluctant translator in a drug deal at school, or shared a bus seat with someone emptying out the contents of their stomach into plastic bag after plastic bag. I wanted this writing to stand out and add something different to campus. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking for a reaction,* but my reason was always to add variety. It’s about balance.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading Paydirt as much as I’ve enjoying writing for it. My time at Paydirt is over, along with most of my other graduating coworkers here. After graduation, between not having a job and not wanting a job, I decided my best course of action would be to walk to Canada from Mexico by way of the Pacific Crest Trail. With no solid plans after that, I seem to have a sudden abundance of time ahead of me, and trying to figure out how to spend it feels like a daunting challenge. But if I’ve learned anything from Tech, it’s that thinking of all the assignments at once is a definitive way to stress out. It’s best to take on one thing at a time. For me, that’s finishing the remainder of my classes at Tech. The next is trying to figure out where to find water in southern California in June... but one thing at a time.

Signing off.

-Sam Burleigh

*It’s not me.

*Still nothing from Dr. Wells. I don’t think he reads Paydirt.

Another Successful Student Research Symposium

Final Letter from the Editor

Final Letter from the Editor