How the DC helped me use my voice, and have fun doing it.

The 2015-2016 Daily Campus staff. (File photo)

The 2015-2016 Daily Campus staff. (File photo)

For the past four years, the Daily Campus has always been the way I’ve started off my week,  and it’s been the best way to do so. Back-to-back Sunday night meetings meant that myself and others would most certainly be found in the office: working and planning for the week, along with hanging out, catching up and eating dinner.  

It’s hard to believe that this is the last column I will write for the Daily Campus. Over the past four years, the Daily Campus has become integral to my week-to-week routine and life at UConn, providing me a source of community, friendship and personal growth. I always knew I spent a lot of time in the office and always loved being there. Like most life experiences though, I did not realize the extent to which my time at the Daily Campus shaped me while it was actually happening: teaching me to embrace, develop and use my voice, as well as the importance of loving and having fun in whatever you do, feeling pride in your work as well as the people you are working with.

I started writing for the news section during my freshman year. Covering events as a reporter allowed me to learn more about opportunities around campus, exposing me to lectures, projects and groups on campus that I wouldn’t have otherwise known about. The summer before sophomore year, the incoming Editor-in-Chief called me to say that since I was now the President of the College Democrats, I could no longer write for News since it would be a conflict of interest. She suggested the opinion section instead, and while I was disappointed at first, it is yet another example of the reassuring truth that the best things are often those that are not planned, and the meaning of them may not be readily apparent at the time.

As I began writing for opinion, I remember I always chose my topic and words judiciously, shying away from anything too bold. Having done it every week for three years, I am more immune to it now; but there is a certain level of vulnerability in putting your opinion out there, and having your name published to it for eternity in print and online. Other opinion writers would talk about emails and comments they received on their pieces, and I wondered to myself why I never got any. It quickly was apparent that I hadn’t done anything to make anyone angry – which is a near certain sign you are doing something wrong.

When I returned to the Daily Campus after a semester in London, during the fall of my junior year, my mindset shifted from “what authority do I have to comment on any of these issues?” to, “what new perspective can I add?” Especially with the presidential primary intensifying, I felt a responsibility to use my personal voice and write about the issues I was truly the most passionate about, to raise awareness about issues people may not yet know about. The long awaited emails came soon after, and each one felt like a validation. What was even more gratifying was the realization that these more uninhibited columns were the ones that resonated positively with people too, and had more of an impact – which is what I was ultimately seeking to do. While at first I was nervous to write about my support for Hillary Clinton and be labeled or targeted as the “Hillary Clinton girl” (several Hillary columns, thousands of online shares and many angry emails later, that ship has long sailed), I decided I needed to overcome these fears for the sake of what they were stopping me from doing – another important lesson that’s easier said than done, but also always worth it.

All the while, I have had these experiences in an incredibly supportive environment that not only always accepted and encouraged me as a more authentic writer, but also as a person and friend. I remember my first late Sunday night at the Daily Campus freshman year; I was asked last minute to cover someone’s design shift, since the Managing Editor knew I had some InDesign experience from high school. By the end of the night, I knew I had found my people, and the community I hadn’t yet felt like I had found at UConn. Not only did I feel so welcomed, but I loved seeing how the upperclassmen were all friends and always laughing, while working hard for one another and the paper they cared about so much. I am now one of those upperclassmen (a senior), and while the time seems to have flown by, the many memories that took place over the course of this transformation inside and outside the office are a testament that it didn’t.  

It is difficult to give any specific shout outs – because I am immensely grateful for so many people I have met through the Daily Campus since freshman year, it would go on forever. But thank you to all my friends at the Daily Campus, including Chris for making my job as his Associate the easiest one at the Daily Campus, Julia, Bailey, Steph and all the other editors for holding the fort down (even if it caught on fire).

This fall, I’ll be moving abroad to Belfast, Northern Ireland to spend a year on a Fulbright Scholarship, and then I will begin law school at the University of Chicago. I am both nervous and excited for this change, and am forever indebted to UConn and the Daily Campus for helping me become the person I am today, and for empowering me to leave my comfort zone and prepare (or be as ready as you can ever be for the future, anyway) for these next adventures.

Thanks for reading along!


Marissa Piccolo is associate opinion editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at marissa.piccolo@uconn.edu. She tweets@marissapiccolo.