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Keeping up with Kincaid: did I answer all my questions?

Laken Kincaid
Editor-in-Chief Laken Kincaid ponders the writing of their last column for The Carroll News before graduation

It never feels like an appropriate time to start writing the obituary for your time at college. It starts as an ephemeral item on a to-do list on a cold evening when you begin your last semester; it is the last checkbox of your experience and is almost always accompanied by the phrase “I have more time” in parentheses. As the months become weeks and the weeks subsequently become a countdown on the official John Carroll Instagram account, you continue to procrastinate the final articulations of your student self until you are faced with a deadline that can’t be moved unless you want the headline to read “musings from an estranged alumni.”

Last night, Grace Sherban ‘25 asked me “when is your senior column going to be done?” I promptly promised that I would churn it out within 24 hours while also realizing the emotional burden that comes with that. I made the mistake of pushing off this article not out of avoidance but because it is the recognition of the end. It is like deleting Canvas to avoid looking at a bad exam grade. Yes, the record still exists, but I find bliss in pretending it doesn’t. 

Well, it is 48 hours until I am no longer a college student. There’s no chance I can run from it now or else it will just be pathetic.

Perhaps that means this last piece may suffer. On the other hand, maybe the pressure will force me to eke out only the rawest feelings while hovering my cursor over the playlist “crying in Millor 210.” As to which is correct, I cannot say. All I know for certain is that this stings regardless of its final aptitude.

For years, I have used my columns as a tool of reflection; they force me to look at myself and be objective as any journalist should. While a little silly at times, they serve as tiny time capsules of the person that wrote them. Even my recent rumination on what I wish I had more time to discuss feels as if it was curated by an entirely different student than who I am today. When you are less than two days away from closing a chapter where the pages have been dog-eared and coffee stained to high heaven, you seem to evolve as each day dwindles. 

Each final experience, each last goodbye, each session of screaming “Vienna” by Billy Joel in my Toyota RAV4 changes my chemical composition. My mind contorts to find closure while simultaneously attempting to avoid the pain that accompanies maturing. I would complain about “growing pains” as a kid when my knees would crack against cold pavement and this hurt feels relatively similar. I know it is all for the best and I cannot wait to meet who I am going to be in just a few years, but at the moment, it frankly sucks.

What also makes this difficult is there is no set structure for a senior column. Every person is allowed to put their own personal spin on their piece. A portion of myself wants to take this time to air out all of my final maxims, but that feels too selfish. Another half of me wants to take four pages to recognize every person who cheered from the sidelines, but that feels too monumental of a task. I cannot write a letter to myself as that theme was aired during my seven minutes at the Grad-at-Grad podium and I cannot give a message of hope to my class as that is being saved for the celebrations on May 19. Nothing feels correct and ending this jubilee on a minor chord with regrets is a leering fear I have.

Nevertheless, my back is against the wall and stopping the ticking hands of a clock is not feasible. At this moment, I remember a tiny post-it note in the newsroom that has not been moved for at least two years. On it is a quote scrawled by past Opinion Editor Jack Giba ‘22 that reads “draw Antonio, draw and do not waste time.” That is what I am using to push through this all, the notion of writing to preserve who I am now for the world to see as not to let who I am now blur into oblivion.

A senior column is never going to be perfect. There are too many hands to shake, tears to wipe away, blood stains to remove and time to long for. I would not be who I am without my mentors and friends so I naturally give them the praise they deserve. However, I also know that they would not feel whole with my perception of my college experience if I did not admit that I too give myself adulations for how much I have grown. Although still very much a perfectionist and anxiety ridden, I have learned how to give myself grace and lean into the warmth of change rather than be burned by the flames of the future. 

I suppose the last thing to do is thank you, the reader, for accompanying me on this television show of an educational ride. You saw me change and I appreciate your patience. I know it was probably like watching a bad sitcom when you know the main character is bound to make a mistake, but you love their arc regardless.

Without looking back, my last words in print of The Carroll News (in the form of a eulogy no less) are this: Laken “Lakenator” Kincaid has officially answered all of their questions from the last two years, but still finds themselves enjoying the journey of seeking answers in everything they do. 


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About the Contributor
Laken Kincaid
Laken Kincaid, Editor-in-Chief
Laken Kincaid is the Editor-in-Chief for The Carroll News from Beckley, West Virginia. They are a senior at John Carroll University who is double majoring in political science and communications (digital media) and minoring in leadership development. Laken has written for The Carroll News since the start of their freshman year and has previously served as a staff reporter, campus section editor and managing editor of the paper. They have received 18 Best of SNO awards, a Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence award for Region 4 and two honorable mentions from the College Media Association. They have also been recognized by universities like Georgetown for their investigative reports. Additionally, they also write political satire for The Hilltop Show and feature stories on global poverty for The Borgen Project. In addition to their involvement with The Carroll News, Laken is involved with the Kappa Delta sorority, the speech and debate team, the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion, the Improv club and other organizations. They also serve as the news director for WJCU 88.7, John Carroll's own radio station, and as the president for John Carroll's Society of Professional Journalists chapter.  Laken also started their own national nonprofit organization known as Art with the Elderly which they have won the President's Volunteer Service Award and the Humanity Rising Award for. When not writing, Laken can be found doing graphic design for their internship with Union Home Mortgage or working as a resident assistant and peer learning facilitator on campus. Laken also enjoys skiing and watching true crime documentaries. In the future, Laken hopes to become a political journalist for a national news organization or to be a campaign commercial editor for politicians. To contact Laken, email them at [email protected].

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