Alumni Corner - Heather Reynolds

Observer expert and Editor of Volume XXIX, Heather Reynolds has some choice words about her time in the paper.

As is in keeping with my time at the Observer, I started writing this about 48 hours after the time I had promised to have it to the editors by.

The struggle I had with this was finding just one memory to hone in - I started with the paper in 2017 and only managed to escape around eleven months ago, so there's plenty to choose from. The Observer was hands down the highlight of my time in UCD. It was where I found a lot of my confidence, where I learned to loosen up, where I was able to write and write and write regardless of whatever else was going on that week.

When I think about UCD I think about the newspaper office first. I think about Gavin Tracey and Aoife Mawn covering the motion sensor lights and buying lamps for the office, Brían Donnelly blaring Mariah Carey on November 1st just to annoy Dylan O’Neill, Zoom sessions with Doireann de Courcey McDonnell, takeaways and last minute writing over production weekends with Ellie Hanan Moran. 

I think the most about my time as Art and Design Editor, surprisingly enough. I worked under Nathan Young and Aoife Rooney that year, and I have a lot of exceptional memories of that year - I was busy as all hell that year, working part time outside the UO as well as finishing up my last 40 credits of my degree, but I still found myself back in that office more often than not. 

Myself and Nathan started at the paper at the same time, and I worked my A&D year from the same table where we decided which roles we were going to apply for when moving from staff writers to section editors. By 2021 most of the motion sensors had been uncovered again, but no one was tall enough to remove the one from my side of the room, so I had to get up and walk around every 20 or so minutes to turn the lights back on when walking alone.

The A&D desk was the first desk I worked at in the office, all the way back in the foggy days of 2018. We were in the last leg of the final issue of the academic year, just off the back of the SU elections, and the Comment section was in an absolute hames. Myself and Nathan had commandeered the desk, and I wrote a half page article comparing the gender breakdown of sabbatical officers and TDs in the Dáil at breakneck pace. We didn’t really talk besides comparing word counts and complaining about sources, but we both knew by the end of the day that we’d be back doing the same thing in September.

Something that cannot be overstated about the paper is the sense of camaraderie it leaves you with, particularly between the editors you work with closely - there’s only so many 15 minute long voice notes you can send to someone at 3am before you want them to speak at your wedding.

If I had to give one piece of advice to any student reading this and wanting to write, it would be this: just show up and do it. Commandeer and table and talk at them until they give in. They literally can’t stop you. Many a journalism career has been built on this by now. Just go on and do it already. The A&D one in particular gets a gorgeous breeze in the summer.