Senior Reflection: Mike Izzo, Authentic Eagles Editor

I’m going to be honest here: an editor for a magazine was the absolute last title I ever thought I would have. I don’t consider myself a good writer by any means, and I tend to absolutely dread revising my own papers. So to now hold the title of Authentic Eagles Editor is still a bit odd to me to this day, but I’ve definitely warmed up to it.

The idea to create a reflection series came to me after leading 48 Hours and having incredibly vulnerable conversations with my co-leads (i.e.: Jenna LaConte) and the freshmen on the retreat. I had written a “This I Believe” statement on masculinity for my Gender Studies course in the fall and was encouraged by Peter Folan and Katie Dalton to publish it. So I mulled the idea over and approached Jenna, who I had become close to from the retreat, with the idea for a series. Believe it or not, she actually shot me down at first, thinking that not many people would be willing to put themselves out there and publish such vulnerable reflections. I couldn’t take it anymore, I was bent on bringing vulnerability to Boston College’s campus, so I kept bugging her about it amidst her many time-consuming obligations. A few days later, however, she warmed up to the idea when Ryan Galvin sent her his piece on mental illness—taking his submission as a sign that a reflection series could really help the BC community, she finally caved. So we drafted and sent out a mass e-mail to people that we thought would be willing to contribute a piece for our series, and to our great surprise we received a ton of positive responses.

That was the beginning of December 2013, right before finals. Jenna and I spent winter break combing through the many submissions that we received. Being incredibly foreign to editing, she had to teach me how to carefully craft and guide the reflections to bring the most out of each and every person’s story. I learned that to be good at editing is to be able to quickly find the best parts of each piece and expand upon them, as well as to trim out what isn’t needed, but for Authentic Eagles this means that we have to be especially conscious of retaining the writer’s voice and not placing our own. Under her guidance, I learned how to streamline the editing process and actually began to really enjoy helping writers produce pieces that best conveyed their beautifully vulnerable stories.

After we had compiled enough pieces to start the series, we decided to publish mine first to kick-start Authentic Eagles. It was January 23rd; Jenna and I were sitting in Lower as she prepped up my reflection to publish, fit with a picture and all. She asked me if I was ready and I distinctly remember lying to her, “Yeah, sure.” She pressed the button and shared it on Facebook, and I reluctantly shared it as well. I was utterly mortified that my vulnerable piece was public, anxious that people would judge me and not receive the series well. To my great surprise, people absolutely loved it—the “likes” and hits on the piece came in hot, and I was getting messages from friends, family, and even people I didn’t know in support of my reflection and the openness it stood for.

The feedback has been so gratifying, and with each piece we publish, the love continues to grow. Mine was only the tip of the iceberg of vulnerability that this series has come to stand for. Reading the series has personally renewed my appreciation for my friends and the BC community because of how much people really get out of seeing seemingly perfect peoples’ struggles. The overwhelming support that we have received has been so great that we have decided to continue the series next year under new editors, something we never even considered when the series began.

The lives that we touch with each piece makes me so happy that I decided to push for the series, but in reality, I cannot take nearly as much credit as people are giving me for “creating” it. Teddy Kolva, Mary Yuengert, Billy Foshay, and Jono Keedy welcomed me into the wonderfully supportive family that is the Gavel with open arms to keep the series running and have provided an incredible support system for the series as a whole. But above all, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how much I owe to Jenna for sharing in my passion and being the foundational backbone of Authentic Eagles. She has been the best mentor, teacher, and friend that I could have asked for as we watched the series blossom together into such a beautiful part of the BC community.

Thank you all for such a wonderful semester, I feel truly blessed to be a part of the Gavel family and all of the great things that it does for BC. I can’t wait to see what great things the Gavel puts out next and where Authentic Eagles goes under the leadership of Teddy Raddell, Carolyn Griesser, and Victoria Southwood next year!