Brendan Gillespie

Senior communication major Brendan Gillespie, outgoing Sports Chief for The East Carolinian.

Despite the fact that I am about to graduate from East Carolina University in December, I feel like I have overcome much more than just my undergraduate studies with experiencing two elections, a civil rights resurgence and a pandemic that the modern world hasn’t seen since 1918.

My time at ECU, and at The East Carolinian (TEC), is at an end. As sad and uncertain about the future that I am, I remain hopeful that my time here has prepared me for the future. My experiences have ultimately taught me to expect the unexpected in life. 

I joined the paper on a whim and thought I would try something new. After I was trained to be a sports reporter, I applied to work over the summer for the newspaper. Although I got the job, no other sports reporters applied and I was thrown into the metaphorical fire as a first-time section editor. 

With no previous job experience as a reporter or editor, I immediately felt overwhelmed and had no desire to continue. I stuck with the job and fell in love with sports in a new way. Reporting on games, writing stories and talking about sports became my new passions and I would not have known if not for that situation.

Working at TEC continued to teach me how to deal with the unexpected and change, again in the form of a new job. After a summer and the fall semester as the sports editor I was moved to the news chief. Both me and my news editor had no news experience at the time, so I again had to adapt to unexpected circumstances. 

While being a news reporter is probably not a career path I will pursue, that semester taught me a lot about reporting on breaking news, becoming more oriented to maintaining a schedule and asking for help when needed.

In my final semester, yet another unexpected event taught me some lessons. The start of the COVID-19 pandemic was right around the end of the previous spring semester and into the summer. 

Again working over the summer brought a completely new perspective to light through the Black Lives Matter movement. As a white male, I have had no personal experience with racism of any kind. It seemed like a fairytale to me and I always thought it pretty much went away after the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I was wrong.

The murder of George Floyd on May 25 opened my eyes to the prejudice going on in the United States and remind my that racial profiling is still happeneing today. The Black Lives Matter movement grew national attention and made me proud to be an American because black voices were being heard about racial injustice and allies from all backgrounds and races were standing by them in support.

After returning to Greenville, North Carolina, to work as multimedia manager for TEC, I had my first real encounter with COVID-19 when my roommate’s girlfriend contracted the virus. I had to go and self-quarantine and learned that the virus and contract tracing is something to be taken seriously. 

Once I was moved back to the sports department, COVID-19 made reporting on sports very difficult, considering most collegiate sports were being either cancelled or postponed. It forced me and my reporters to be creative with our stories and ultimately helped our ability to write stories in the long run. 

Throughout my time in college, I have experienced many things that were unexpected that threw me off guard. Thanks to my time working at TEC, I have learned to adapt to the many changes in life and how to turn those negatives into a positive. Although it is sad to leave school and my friends at TEC, I’m sure this is yet another event that I will get through as I have before thanks to them.

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