Parr: Saying goodbye to a place I’ve called home


Sarah Parr, Director of Business Operations

I’m lucky to say I’ve been involved in a lot of different things throughout my time as a Case Western Reserve University undergraduate. One of those things is not like the others, and that is my experience with The Observer. Out of all the departments I’ve been a part of, organizations I’ve immersed myself in and jobs I’ve had, The Observer is a group I can truly call a home. I started writing for The Observer my first semester, the week after Orientation, and I’ve only gotten more involved since then. 

My first article for The Observer was a review of IMPROVment’s welcome back show—at this point, I had never seen an improv comedy show let alone written about one, but after four years of heavy involvement with my high school’s newspaper and theater department, I figured I’d enjoy it. I remember reaching out to troupe members for quotes and they were super excited—that’s one of the fun things about journalism. Over the next few months, I wrote articles for all four sections of the paper, which is something I’ve always been proud of.

About a month into college, I applied to be The Observer’s social media editor because I saw there was an opening on the editorial board staff (surprise) and I wanted to get more immersed in the paper. I submitted in my first-ever letter of intent and résumé, and I got an interview! Originally, I didn’t get the role. I didn’t really understand that because, in my humble and inexperienced opinion, I just nailed my first “job interview.” An upperclassman got the role instead, which I understood. But guess what? A month after that, he turned into the opinion editor, which meant it was now time for me to begin my two-year reign over The Observer’s social media. As an avid user of Facebook and Instagram (I don’t think my Twitter went absolutely bonkers yet), I was excited to learn the ins and outs of managing and creating content for an organization’s different social media channels. I’ve learned so much from that role, and looked forward to sharing articles each day, helping to keep the community informed.

Fast forward to the end of my second year when I became Director of Business Operations, a position that I didn’t know would absolutely change my life and teach me more than I could ever imagine. I gained so many valuable skills in this role while on campus, but I also got to represent The Observer at two student media conferences, where I got to meet incredible young professionals from all over the country, participate in workshops with seasoned journalists and businesspeople—and visit the famous La Jolla seals. It’s funny how, initially, I didn’t even want to be the Director of Business Operations, as I had absolutely no business or treasury experience coming into the role, but I learned very quickly I didn’t need any. All I needed was an open mind, a couple of stress-crying phone calls to the then executive editor, now fifth-year Eddie Kerekes, and the willingness to soak up every piece of knowledge I could regarding effective communication and management skills. 

My first year in this role was largely grounded in fixing a lot of issues that arose over the last few years in the organization. I endured some of the biggest challenges of my life. Once we fixed relationships with different clients and partners, and finally collected ignored revenue, we could start focusing on improving internal business operations and logistics that have never worked super well. But after a year of all that—as I am in the role for my second year now, which is my final one on the paper’s editorial board—I have got to thank my current outstanding business team: fellow fourth-year, Accounts Manager Shivani Govani; third-year Marketing and Distribution Manager, Bradley Schneider; and second-year Advertising Manager, Justin Hu. They made my job a joyful breeze, and each of them has taught me a lot. I can’t wait to see what they do in the future. 

Even though journalism and business don’t typically mix, I’m grateful I got to explore both these things with The Observer. I don’t plan on stopping my passion for media communications—no matter which side—anytime soon. But knowing that this is my last Observer article as an undergrad (I’m looking at you, 100th-anniversary issue), and saying goodbye, is weird. I truly don’t know what my life would be like if The Observer (and, for what it’s worth, the University Media Board office) wasn’t a place I could truly call a home throughout my entire college career.