For the second installment of the Student-Staff series, I have decided to interview The Phoenix's very own Editor in Chief, Rachel Macarie. Rachel worked as The Phoenix’s Opinions Writer/Editor for a year before transitioning to the position of Editor in Chief in April 2021. Unfortunately, she will be graduating in December, but her hard work will live on.
What year are you in? What is your major?
RM: I am a fourth-year English major (with a Social Studies second teachable) in the final semester of my Bachelor of Arts degree.
Why did you decide to work for The Phoenix?
RM: As an English major who is passionate about writing in all of its forms, I knew I wanted to explore a plethora of writing mediums throughout my degree. After dabbling in creative writing, I decided to try my hand at journalism. So before transferring over to UBCO, I first contributed short, opinion/experience-based bites of writing to the University of the Fraser Valley’s newspaper, The Cascade. After receiving praise from an editor there on my work and the encouragement to pursue full-length articles, I realized I had a place—and a voice—for student journalism. This led me to apply for a writing position at The Phoenix after I transferred to UBCO. I wanted to continue to find my voice and develop my writing skills in an environment of driven, like-minded, and passionate people.
What made you want to become the Editor in Chief of The Phoenix?
RM: Truthfully, I could not have imagined when I first started out as the Phoenix’s Opinions Editor that I would end my journalistic journey as the Editor in Chief of the paper. There were many factors that went into the decision. One of the most impactful moments for me was that a fellow staff writer suggested that I be the person who continues with The Phoenix as Editor in Chief (and other staff at the time echoed this sentiment unanimously). This support from the former Editor in Chief and Phoenix staff was incredibly meaningful to me; I felt recognized for my hard work and devotion to the paper as a staff writer/editor. Knowing that my peers believed in my abilities is really what gave me the extra push I needed to accept the daunting role. I also could not pass up the opportunity for the new skills and invaluable experiences that would inevitably come from such a campus leadership position.
What are your work-related goals?
RM: For context: somewhat unfortunately, the majority of the 2020 Phoenix staff graduated before my reign as Editor in Chief. The staff who remained, myself and the Managing Editor, Sam Grinnell, faced the challenge of acquiring a feasible budget for The Phoenix to function as well as hiring and training an entirely new staff team with little to no executive experience ourselves. The goal really was to ensure that The Phoenix could ‘rise from the ashes’ and function even better than it had in years prior. I am proud to acknowledge my instrumental role in securing The Phoenix’s budget for the term, interviewing, hiring, and training eight new staff members, as well as helping The Phoenix implement new and exciting media outputs. However, it is equally important to recognize that nothing is accomplished alone.
This feat was only made possible due to Sam Grinnell’s dedication and hard work alongside me, the SUO Media Fund Committee’s support, and invaluable guidance and input from The Phoenix’s Faculty Advisor, Dr. George Grinnell. My goals as Editor in Chief were to hire and train a new staff team, create a culture of community within The Phoenix, and strengthen the Phoenix’s relationship with the SUO. As my term comes to an end, I feel proud of having accomplished those work-related goals and having received so much external support.
More broadly, however, in the Phoenix’s vision proposal that was created by Sam Grinnell and myself, we outlined our overall goals for The Phoenix this year:
Endeavor to address a wide range of topics including, but not limited to, reconciliation on campus, post-pandemic futures, student wellbeing, environmental collapse, and cultures of anti-racism.
Return to a print format in Winter Term 2.
Implement new media outputs: SUO and UBCO Governance (Senate/BoG) Spotlights
Student Achievement Publishing (with diverse faculty representation)
UBCO Sports Highlights Videos (assuming a return to spectator events)
Student Spotlights (creatives, activists, community leaders, etc.)
Guest Speaker Events
Deliver a robust, active, and engaged campus newspaper that reflects the diversity of our student body, provides a range of opportunities for student involvement, facilitates cross-campus communication, and shares our passion for campus life at the dynamic and ever-growing UBCO campus.
Certainly, in just under four months, The Phoenix has made massive strides towards accomplishing these goals, and this is particularly evident by the outstanding quality of our content and the impressive devotion of our new staff team. I am so proud of the team and the paper’s progress. Even though I will no longer be a part of The Phoenix come my graduation in December, I am excited to see how the paper continues to thrive and succeed in the upcoming year and years to come.
How do you balance work, academic, and social life?
RM: I don’t know that I do. It truly is difficult to have a balanced life as an overachiever who adds far too much to her proverbial spinning plates (my commitments) and who, annoyingly, has the desire to succeed at every one of them. Consequently, my social life has definitely suffered the most as a result of my busy schedule. However, to try to combat this work-life imbalance and unwind, I schedule video calls with my best friend, go on walks around the block with my partner, play Mario-Kart, and watch baking competition shows on Netflix.
What is your favorite and least favorite part of the job?
RM: My favorite part about working at The Phoenix is being able to engage with important student issues and meaningful discussions with a group of students who are equally committed to covering stories relevant to UBCO students and experiences. I love connecting with the team during our staff meetings, editing and providing feedback on interesting articles, and being involved with what is happening on campus.
My least favorite part would have to be the budgetary work that was involved with the role of Editor in Chief as I would prefer to focus on other aspects of the paper. But, in order to be a functioning paper, we need the funds to function—so it was a worthwhile, albeit challenging, process.
Describe your workplace atmosphere.
RM: The Phoenix’s staff meetings proceed in an open, round-table type of way where we can discuss topics related to each section and have a dialogue with every team member regarding what type of content we are wanting to produce for the coming week. The atmosphere is relaxed while maintaining the formality that is necessary for a student paper as we go back and forth about pitches, ideas, and future plans for The Phoenix. It is an environment that fosters communication and honest conversation as we strive to keep UBCO students’ interests at the heart of our content production.
Is there anything else you want students to know?
It is a phrase that is so commonly told to students that it almost seems redundant, but I cannot stress it enough: get involved. But avoid getting involved simply for the sake of a line on a resume—get involved with something you are passionate about. This will sustain you during your academic years as you can expend your energy on something else that matters to you. You might find out, as I have, that there are a variety of skills and ideas you bring to the table that can only be enhanced through being involved in something outside of your academic timetable. It may be the best decision of your life; you might meet some wonderful people and have some unforgettable experiences. Take the risk. It’s worth it.