Lukas Myers: Look Back at The Lamp


Lukas Myers (back row, second from right) is pictured with staff at the Illinois Community College Journalism Association conference in April 2016 at Harold Washington College in Chicago. Also pictured are: Front: Tess Peterson, Madison Mings and Emmi Fisher. Back: Isaac Warren, Teresa Brummett, Lukas Myers and Adviser Tim McKenzie.

Lukas Myers, Former Lamp Writer

My name is Lukas Myers and I graduated from LLCC in 2016 with my A.A. I wrote for The Lamp during my time at LLCC. As you know The Lamp is a great little rag which has been acknowledged at the Statewide level. When I was there, we received a hefty number of awards from the Illinois Community College Journalism Association at their annual conference. I was lucky enough to take home Reporter of the Year one year, an honor of which I am still proud.

Tim McKenzie ran the paper in a way that made it feel authentic, he kept his nose out for what was going on, and he assigned us stories where we were open to do real investigating and real interviews. The naturalness by which he approached this task is likely due to his own history as a reporter.

Tim recently reached out to me to tell me the paper is going online and that he is stepping down as advisor to The Lamp staff. This first fact seems natural and is the obvious next step for the publication which can surely reach a broader audience through online channels. The second one is regrettable, though understandable. McKenzie’s experience in real newsrooms was essential for learning how to put together a proper paper and the results were something we could all be proud of.

It is not altogether obvious to me how I ought to write about my time at The Lamp which is what I have been asked to do. I am in graduate school now. I am currently working on my PhD. in Philosophy, and I value Lincoln Land a great deal in having helped to get me here. Working on the newspaper was no small part of that.

Writing stories and doing interviews was the beginning of what I now know to be an ongoing search for my literary voice. The projects had certain restrictions: word limits, vocabulary, certain promotional agendas. Writing restrictions are an incredibly difficult hurdle to overcome in early college. We spend so much time hoping that we can meet basic standards that we never get the opportunity to ask questions like, “How will this sound to the reader? Like, in their head.” A newspaper forces you to ask those questions. You aren’t writing on esoteric nonsense for some professor, you’re writing for real human beings who will (maybe) read your words.

I miss walking the halls at Lincoln Land and there is something sad to the thought that the black or silver wire newspaper racks will have one less physical thing on them when I walk through the doors. Moments like this make you realize that the world keeps moving on after you leave a place and you really would rather it didn’t. You’d rather have everything you love about a place stay the same and be there for you whenever you go back to grace the halls with your presence.

But of course, for as sad as such moments make us feel, it is ultimately a good thing to be reminded that there are real human beings living around you and occupying the spaces you used to occupy. It is ultimately good that things change and get better and go to new places. And it is ultimately good for you to realize how small you are in the broader story. It helps you to, I think, appreciate the ways in which your circumstances gave birth to you and if you’re doing it right that should make you appreciate the whole thing a bit better.

I suppose the above is my way of reflecting on what working at the paper meant to me and still means to me. I am not so good when it comes to picking apart the practical benefits I received from working at The Lamp. I assure you there are some: writing, critical thinking, working within the parameters of a specific project. But those benefits aren’t really the point of doing stuff, they are the things that help us to do the stuff that is the point better than we otherwise would.

I guess if you asked me why I am writing this I would say, “To try and convince you to write for the Lamp.” Or if you are a librarian, administrator, professor, janitor, guidance counselor, or employee at the bookstore I would say, “To try and convince you to read The Lamp.”

Students at LLCC are in a very specific place in their lives. Many of them are scared, many of them are hopeful, many of them feel aimless and unmoored. I felt all of those things when I attended LLCC and writing for the paper was a way to test myself, to see what I could do, and determining what you can do is an important part of figuring out what you should do. So, I think you should write for The Lamp, and if you can’t write for it I think you should read it.

I want you to write for the paper and read it for more or less selfish reasons. I loved The Lamp. I want it to do well. I want others to feel what I felt at Lincoln Land. I want writers to awkwardly try and find their voice and release very imperfect articles. I want readers to (good naturedly) ridicule those writers for the typos in their stories. I want people to do the uncomfortable thing where they interview a professor in their office and try to make a conversation into an article. I want someone to write about a presentation on banned books and get the number of a presenter who would eventually become their fiancée.

I do not want these things because I want LLCC to become a factory which creates little Lukas Myers’s (that would be dreadful). I want these things because when I am really honest with myself those are the things that mattered while I was there. Thanks.