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A Senior Goodbye from the Copy Editor

A+photo+of+Andy+from+an+issue+from+my+high+school+newspaper+that+was+dedicated+to+him.+Photo+by+James+Miranda%2FThe+Pace+Chronicle.
A photo of Andy from an issue from my high school newspaper that was dedicated to him. Photo by James Miranda/The Pace Chronicle.

A photo of Andy from an issue from my high school newspaper that was dedicated to him. Photo by James Miranda/The Pace Chronicle.

A photo of Andy from an issue from my high school newspaper that was dedicated to him. Photo by James Miranda/The Pace Chronicle.

James Miranda, Copy Editor

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Saying goodbye to my first newspaper experience is neither hard nor bittersweet. But it is weird to have to write about myself considering I spent all four years writing about others. My favorite things to write at the Pace Chronicle were profiles because I love sharing people’s stories. So, it only seems fitting that I share my story and explain why I do what I do.

I had a friend from grammar school named Andy Feliz. He was neither my best friend nor someone I hung out with, but a friend nonetheless—we altar served together in grammar school, I knew his sister and he knew mine, and we went to the same high school too.

Andy—a year older than me—passed away, however, of a heart attack my junior year of high school and the last time I saw him he was with a group of students that were going to Nicaragua for a community service retreat. They were getting ready to give an announcement and it was my shift for the camera at AM Salesian—my school’s morning broadcast station. I walked in and saw Andy, but just looked at him and didn’t say anything.

Of course, I never saw him again and it didn’t hit me that I’d never see him again until later that week when my school held his wake in our chapel.

Yeah, that was hard having to see the body of a friend that was heading somewhere in life, all the people who came to show support to his writhing family, and I didn’t even say a simple “hi” to him.

Then, one night, I asked myself, “Why him? Why not me?”

I realize now how selfish I was but at that point in high school (as many people go through), I was purposefully failing, depressed and missed nearly a month of school just to avoid being bullied, and drinking at an alcoholic rate every weekend to escape my problems.

However, the same night, it came to me that maybe I should take it all as a sign to get my ass in gear. From that moment on I decided that I’d work my rear end off to get somewhere in life and make up for a friend’s life cut short.

I took a liking to sports, Yankees baseball specifically, freshman year because it was the only thing that made me happy in high school—other than hanging out with my best friends Yousef Alhejazein, Ryan Carey, John Riehm, and Viraj Patel—and I was always a good writer, so I put two and two together.

I got my act together and devoted virtually all my time to becoming a sports reporter. I aced senior year with flying colors and got accepted by Pace where I joined the Chronicle to start writing sports.

The stuff I wrote, in the beginning, was laughable, but I loved it. Sophomore year I took it a little more seriously because I knew I had a chance to be elected Sports Editor for junior year, which I was. However, I took the extra step and sought out Kevin Czerwinski, the paper’s faculty advisor who covered the Mets for MLB.com, after being elected to figure out what sports journalism was really like and what it took to be a good one.

As Kev always is, he bluntly said it was going to be tough and that I’d have to make sacrifices.

I think I gave it my all as sports editor. I spent every Monday up from 5 a.m. to 2 a.m. working on stuff for school and the paper and every other day was much the same. Most weekends were spent covering games and writing game recaps. And sometimes I wrote other editors’ sections to help pick up the slack.

And the team of Joe Tucci, Carlos Villamayor, George De Feis, and I were unstoppable during some stories.

But, like any good mentor is, Kev never let me win. Nothing I did was good enough and I started to question if I could do this, not just for myself, but again for Andy.

Come spring semester, I was failing three classes, sometimes writing four-to-eight stories a week, and was just exhausted. I decided I was going to leave the paper at the end of the year to clear my head and figure out what was next if I was giving up.

I don’t think I was a good Sports Editor from a journalistic standard at all. I believe I failed and worse I thought I failed Andy. This summer sucked because I essentially had to start over and find where I was again. Years of devoting myself to becoming as sports journalist down the drain and no idea what was next.

I decided to come back to the Chronicle in November to fill that hole in my life and to be honest, it’s probably been my greatest time with the paper. I’m glad I failed because all that failure made me succeed today and that’s why I may be a step ahead of most graduates in terms of a career.

With that, I can’t express how grateful I am for everyone I’ve come across along the way.

Thank you to my entire family, who’s given me every last ounce of support and love, especially Mom, Dad, Sandra, George, John, and Janine. Thank you, Yousef and Ryan, for being my longest and closest friends (St. Anthony’s Class of ‘09). Thank you, John and Viraj, for being my best friends in high school (Salesian High Class of ’13). Thank you, Joe and Gabe, for being my first college friends, especially Joe for being my right-hand journalist (hopefully I was yours’ too). Thank you, Alex and Joey, for making me a part of your family, even though I’m not Arabic. Thank you, George and Carlos, for being my editors and two great friends from the start. Thank you, Kev, for being the greatest mentor/friend someone could ask for and making me the journalist/writer/reporter I am now. Thank you to the Chronicle staffs past and present for nothing but memories. Thank you, God, for all of this. Thank you to everyone else who’s meant something to me in my life.

And most importantly, thank you, Andy, for being the reason I do what I do.

RIP Andy Feliz (1993-2011)

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