When Marsha Bond and Michael Parker asked Erick Rozigas and Nicole Mayo to join the first official UC Merced student newspaper, they got a surprise. Rozigas and Mayo were already planning to ask Bond and Parker to join their own paper’s staff.
The four decided to unite rather than compete. Mayo became the president of the organization, and Rozigas the editor in chief. Bond took on external public relations and advertising, while Parker stepped in as layout editor. Joined by Jessica Parel as secretary and campus relations specialist, Kristoffer de Guzman as historian, and Yasha Sabba as treasurer, the group formed the board of the first UC Merced paper.
Their first challenge was deciding on a name. “It took an hour and 45 minutes of discussion,” Mayo said. But they decided on a name suggested at the beginning of their meeting.
“Our name, the Prodigy, reflects our desire to be by students and for students,” said Sabba. “We want to be the enlightened peer everyone turns to for information.”
Rozigas said the Prodigy will include national stories, campus and city items, and news from other UC campuses when the first issue comes out later this spring.
The paper accepts no funding from the university, aiming to preserve journalistic objectivity. That means they need advertising and donations to support the first few issues; Sabba and Bond stay busy pursuing those avenues of support.
Meantime, Rozigas is corralling volunteer writers and photographers, and Parker is working with mentors at the Merced Sun-Star to plan for layout and printing needs.
“We’;re learning how to depend on other members of our team,” Parker said. “I can’t complete my job until Erick has finished his, for example. It’;s a lot different than writing a term paper all by yourself.” Other board members agree they’re obtaining time management, organization, and interpersonal skills.
At the same time, they’re planning for the future. An authentic luau next fall will welcome new students to campus and recruit new staffers for the Prodigy. And a year from now, the crew hopes to have found its permanent groove.
“We’re here to be a voice for the students,” Mayo declared. With their optimism and persistence, they are set to make their mark on the future landscape of UC Merced.