Editorial: Confessions of a Burned Out Student

Assistant Editor-in-Chief Aspen Mauch

I first joined Ke Kalahea when I was a freshman at UH Hilo back in September 2015. Before that, I was on the yearbook committee in high school - my yearbook teacher just happened to be Tiffany Edwards Hunt, the advisor for Ke Kalahea. She was the one who encouraged me to join the paper once I got to UH Hilo. I never had a huge interest in writing, nor did I think I had any particular talent for it - and I still don’t - but I thought it was a good idea to check it out and maybe get involved with something on campus. And I am so glad I did.

Ke Kalahea has introduced me to such great friends, amazing and talented colleagues, and has opened the door to many professional and educational opportunities. Starting as a news writer, I then was promoted to News Editor, and now I am the Assistant Editor-in-Chief.

Through Ke Kalahea, I have dealt with UHHSA, Campus Center, the Chancellor, the Big Island Press Club, students, other organizations on campus, and many other prominent members of our island community.

For sure, the written word is a powerful thing. We have the responsibility of informing our readers; we have the duty of doing our sources justice in relaying their stories and experiences accurately, and we tread very lightly when covering controversial subjects. The nice thing about Ke Kalahea is that although we may be assigned or encouraged to pursue certain stories at times, we generally have the freedom to write about whatever we want, within reason. These can include anything from editorials, food reviews and events around campus, to more hard-hitting issues such as the spending of student fees, UH Hilo budget cuts, electoral politics, and more.

One of the perennial challenges that has always seemed to beset Ke Kalahea is our readership and circulation. I tell people I work at the student newspaper and the number one response I always get is, “We have a student newspaper?”

Our office is located right next to the main staircase up to Campus Center, yet no one really knows who we are or what we do. Through News & Brews, our bi-weekly event where we serve coffee and pastries - along with the release of our new issue - we have steadily tried to increase our presence on campus. This past year, we started a new column called “Ask Aunty,” hoping to encourage greater student participation while adding something new to our publication. Yes, Ke Kalahea has definitely improved over the past few years. We used to be an all black-and-white typical student newspaper; we have more or less transitioned to a news magazine, full of vibrant colors and photos.

Part of me still wants to stay with Ke Kalahea, but I know that it's time for me to bid aloha. With my off-campus job, staying on top of classes, my acceptance into UH Hilo’s nursing program, and dealing with every other aspect of my life, I no longer have the time to be with Ke Kalahea - and to be honest, my passion for writing has fizzled out.

I more often than not find myself rushing to meet deadlines, frustrated when I sit down to write an article and the words just don’t come to me. Some people have this innate gift where they know exactly what they want to say and how to say it. Well, that was never me.

Nevertheless, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time working here, and I believe that it's something that everyone should look into for the experience. Even if you personally don’t think you’re an amazing writer (we are our own worst critic after all), come talk to us anyways.

We are here at UH Hilo, a learning environment, and we are here to build each other up and support one another. Ke Kalahea has taught me the importance of a free press, and just how influential the media can be in our lives.

I really hope that when I pass by the office in the future, I can see a room full of new staff members, budding writers - and an editor-in-chief not as crazy as Brian Wild. (Just kidding, Brian.)

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.