Fourth Estate/Erica Munisar

Editor-in-Chief says goodbye to Mason before graduating


It’s Mason Day today. Tonight I will get to enjoy the fairs and music, then see some of my friends for the last time. In two weeks, I’ll be walking the stage to get my diploma in Integrative Studies with a Legal Concentration where I will start my next chapter to become an attorney.

As I reflect on my term as Editor-in-Chief of Fourth Estate, with all of the paper’s memories and accomplishments, today I have something that I would like to confess to all of you: 

I do not like the taste of coffee. 

It has the most bitter taste. It doesn’t feel great when it wakes me up, either, as it’s simply too strong. Most days when I want to wake up, I manage to have a glass of water or warm one of my favorite ginger teas.

However, throughout the last three years I have probably had at least one cup of coffee a week. 

Why is that? 

When I first joined Fourth Estate back in 2021, I understood that to fully immerse myself in the Mason experience I needed to step outside of my pre-law track and dive into the world of learning from those around me through journalism. 

Throughout my tenure as EIC and with many emails, my interviews have led to a lot of what are called coffee chats. This is where I was given the opportunity to have a coffee with people from many different walks of life: Attorneys, government officials, students, professors, leaders, people who had seen war and more. With that was usually something on the sweeter end so as to not taste the bitterness of my cup.

What could I learn from them, and why did they choose the coffee that they did? 

After many cups of coffee, I realized I had been looking for something in these people that I did not have myself. I spoke to people who had different careers, ambitions and stories from me. Some of these people were older and lived dream lives that I could foresee. 

With all of the people I have met, I know now that we spend every day breaking ourselves down and building ourselves up again by taking little pieces from the people around us, making us whole once more; whether it be from the new people we meet, the signs we see or the content we read. 

I continued to do this for all three years under the guise of journalism, taking pieces from those around me and scrapbooking those experiences into my life. At the beginning of my experience at Mason I saw hundreds of faces pass me by Wilkins Plaza every day on the way to class, each diverse with an untold story. 

I saw these faces behind counters at the shops around campus, in the elevators, the Johnson Center, the people dancing and playing music outside when it gets warm and the very seats next to me in class. It was only when I began to speak to the people around me that these many faces would see mine.

Now when I step outside on campus, many of these faces know my name and story as I know theirs. I see and appreciate the faces of my friends, faculty I’ve met and people who have supported me the entire way.

Then, I ask everyone what pieces we’ve been holding of each other this entire time. With all of our different life paths we have ended up on the same campus bound to wear the same colors. Maybe some of you like black coffee and some with milk and sugar. Maybe some of you don’t like coffee at all.

But the people beside you will always know something you don’t. What could that be? If I could give one wish to everyone here before my tenure ends, it would be to look for those pieces during your entire lifetime. Some pieces you will have already collected from the people you met in college. The other pieces will be found starting in your first apartments, your grocery trips and the friends and family that stay with you through the rest of it. 

Each of us holds a piece of the puzzle that is life, contributing to the vibrant tapestry of our community. So, take moments to have coffee chats with those around you, to learn from their stories and to share your own. Who knows what invaluable insights you may discover?

And at the end of it, I will always be happy to hear your stories, too. And as bittersweet as it may be, I will always be around to grab a coffee with anyone who wants to join me.

And to my incredible team that stayed up until 2 a.m. in the office on nights so we could get the story right: Thank you for everything. I have no doubt that with your talent and diligence, you will all take the newspaper to new horizons in the coming years.

To Kathryn, you are the best advisor I could have asked for. With your help, I was always ready for anything. Thank you for all of the stories you told me in your office.

And to the faculty, my friends, my family and the people who smile when they shake my hand, thank you for giving me the opportunity to be the best version of myself.


Erica Munisar