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The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Rivera-Cortez: You are in the room because you belong there

Kristy Mace
Melanie Rivera-Cortez

After almost three years of writing for The Sunflower, I have done everything from covering news and sports to writing opinion pieces and reviews and even taking an occasional arts and culture story. I am finally writing about something that I have never covered: myself. 

I worked for The Sunflower after being the editor-in-chief of my high school newspaper. When I first started at The Sunflower, though, I was nervous — terrified even. 

The idea of writing for a bigger audience and talking to important people intimidated me. Through the mentorship of the editors and professors, I came to understand that I had a right to be in the room and ask questions. 

By my second year working at The Sunflower, I understood the craft and learned to take chances. I was offered one of the greatest opportunities to date by my teacher and mentor Tom Shine to intern at KMUW. Despite not thinking I was good enough, I took the chance to learn a new medium: radio. 

At KMUW, I worked on Radio Real, KMUW’s Spanish newscast. Within my first week, I was already voicing cuts. After spending almost a year there, I decided that I wanted to focus on school and my work with The Sunflower.  

In my final year, I applied to be the sports editor, still thinking I was not good enough. Alongside my support system and the current editor-in-chief Mia Hennen, I grew to understand that I did not have to be perfect. As long as I put in the work, good things would come my way. 

My time in college as a first-generation Latina student did not always go the way it was supposed to. I always felt like I was not enough because, most of the time, I was the only person of color in the room. In some press conferences, I was the only woman. 

My advice to those who feel the same way is that you are not alone. Your feelings are valid, but they should not limit you. You are in the room because you belong there.

Being a journalism and media production major and The Sunflower opened so many doors for me and allowed me to grow not only as a journalist but also as a person. 

Growing up in a not-so-nice area of Los Angeles, I could have never imagined myself actually attending college or even as the sports editor for an award-winning collegiate newspaper. But I held on to my dream of being a journalist, and I advise the same for everyone out there having doubts. 

Hold on to your dream and work to perfect your craft. You will surprise yourself with what you are capable of. 

My time as the sports editor has felt like an entire lifetime, but I feel bittersweet now that it is coming to a close.

I’m going to miss the Wednesday night production delusions and jokes, the late night basketball press conferences, the long softball doubleheaders and, most of all, my fellow editors who have really seen me at my best and worst. 

To current and future members of The Sunflower, take chances. Don’t sit in what’s comfortable. It can be easy to sit with what you know, but in taking chances, you are opening yourself to new experiences. Take pride in the work you do and know that you are still a student and still growing. 

I want to thank Amy DeVault for not only being a great adviser but for being a great friend. Thank you for hearing me out when I was stressed, nervous or even crying in your office. Your love for journalism has inspired me to keep asking questions. 

To Debra Fraser and the entire KMUW staff, thank you for taking a chance on me and mentoring me along the way. Thank you for letting me teach you Gen Z slang. 

I also want to thank Lindsay Smith and Mia Hennen. Lindsay, thank you for hiring me and giving some really good advice about life post-grad. Thank you, Mia, you are definitely one of the most cool, calm and collected people I know, and I aspire to be like you. Thank you for hearing me out when I was concerned and needed advice and also for listening to my crazy dreams. 

I want to thank Kristy Mace, the current photo editor, for sitting with me through long sporting events and tag-teaming with me during game days. You grounded me in moments of need and always encouraged me to ask questions even when we were both exhausted. Who would have thought we would have become so close by spending so many hours together? 

Last but not least, I want to thank every person I have interviewed. Thank you for letting me tell your story. Now, it’s time to explore mine. 

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About the Contributors
Melanie Rivera-Cortez
Melanie Rivera-Cortez, Sports Editor
Kristy Mace
Kristy Mace, Photo Editor
Kristy Mace is the photo editor for The Sunflower. She's majoring in psychology. Currently a junior, Mace hopes to go on to get her Ph.D. and become a neuropsychologist. She also plays for Wichita State's bowling team and does professional photography aside from The Sunflower.

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