The first time I borrowed a Daily Campus camera, I couldn’t believe people I had just met let me walk away with a $1,000 piece of equipment and not only trust I’d bring it back, but they trusted me to go out, with little training, and photograph a big event in Jorgensen. I had covered a puppet show as my first assignment and then suddenly I was in charge of getting photos of Pentatonix performing in Jorgensen. There aren’t a lot of ways you can get in that situation, but The Daily Campus put me there.
What I’ve found so special about our organization is the endless opportunities we give every person that joins us. Sometimes as students, professionals and adults will automatically judge us or underestimate what we are capable of just because we are young and still learning. We don’t treat you like that at The Daily Campus. We just trust you to go out and do your thing and if it’s not perfect, that’s okay and we’ll teach you, but we won’t look down on you for not being perfect and we won’t ever let you stop trying. We encourage growth and taking on challenges and we share what we learn with each other. No class could ever teach you the practical knowledge you learn from just doing. I am truly grateful for the trust and opportunity The Daily Campus personally provided me because I feel confident and prepared to enter the field and actually be successful.
I started college as a cognitive science major and I’m graduating with a double major in psychology and journalism this weekend. I spent my first two years of college working in a psych lab on campus— running rats in a memory study, learning how to make electrodes and how to stain brain tissue—because I thought I wanted to do research. I did really enjoy that experience, but my skills and talents didn’t really fit. If I hadn’t joined The Daily Campus, I would probably be happy enough on that path, but I know now it wasn’t my passion.
College is supposed to be a place to find yourself. Find out what you’re good at, what you’re passionate about, what you can really do with your talents to make a living. It’s a place to try different paths and to grow and learn and figure out who you want to be.
There’s a quote that I felt I epitomized the day I first realized what that path could be for me:
“At the end of the day, your feet should be dirty, your hair should be messy and your eyes sparkling.”
To me, this quote means working hard, not focusing on yourself or your image, doing things with passion and heart and most of all, feeling alive. I remember coming back to my dorm that night and a friend told me I looked different. I looked happy. My hair was in a rushed ponytail, my makeup definitely rubbed off, my clothes wrinkled and sweaty from the long day. But I was happy, and I was satisfied and something just felt right. For the first time, I had experienced journalism first hand, almost without even realizing it. Before that day, I knew interviews existed, but I never saw one happen in front of me and I was never part of one.
Instead of showing up to an event and simply documenting what was happening without any engagement like I had been used to, I was interacting with the subject and getting to know them— telling their story. I had collaborated with a reporter from WHUS who conducted and recorded the interview, as part of a photo essay we were making for UConn 360 about a UConn housekeeper named Juan. Putting together our content on that project— sequencing audio clips and editing photographs together— was almost even more fun than gathering the content and that day was when I went home feeling right.
Since I began pursuing journalism, I’ve had so many defining experiences like that night. So many reminders of why I love the field and assurances that it’s a difficult one, but it’s so worth the challenges. Some of my favorite college memories come from the opportunities I only had because of The Daily Campus. I’ve photographed countless college sports games, including the women’s basketball NCAA championship game last year in Indianapolis. I’ve gotten to try almost every facet of journalism, from writing, copy editing, designing, photography, videography, digital production, editing and managing my peers. I’ve learned about puppetry and some of the amazing research labs we have on campus. I’ve spent countless nights putting together newspapers, from the ordinary to the really special.
I’ve fallen in love not only with learning stories, but sharing them. Photojournalism has given me a reason to talk to people and come out of my quiet shell to get to know people and ask questions and make connections. I’ve grown a lot during these past four years and I owe a lot of that to the opportunities The Daily Campus provided because they challenged me and made me who I am today.
I’ve been fortunate enough to work with a lot of incredibly talented and amazing people at UConn, particularly through The Daily Campus. Naming every person that has touched me throughout the past four years could probably take up an entire page on its own, so as a general thank you to those I’ve worked with— it’s been a privilege and a pleasure and I wish you all a happy and successful future.
The Daily Campus has become more than just a job or a place to be once in awhile- it has become my life and truly a part of me. When I think about what has been the most constant thing in my life these past four years, it’s by far this newspaper. As I prepare to graduate on Sunday, I prepare to graduate from The Daily Campus as well.
Thank you specifically to Ashley Maher, Jessica Condon, Jon Kulakofsky and Troy Calderia for being role models, supporters and teachers during your time in our organization. You each gave me the push I needed to get more involved and I’m forever grateful for that support. Thank you Kayvon Ghoreshi for going out of your way to make my birthday special when everything was closed after work, and for being a constant warmth in the office last year. Thank you to Daniel Madigan and Spencer Mayfield for ingraining Kanye West into my brain forever. Covering the women’s championship games with you both is an experience I will never forget.
Thank you to Angie DeRosa, Francesca Colturi and Megan Krementoski for being engaged and creative editors and for keeping the office always fun and lighthearted, but most of all, thank you for your deep dedication to our paper. Thank you to Jackson Haigis for always greeting me with a smile and for carrying the photo department to new levels this year, if I could work with 100 of you, that would just be great. Amar Batra, your work ethic is commendable, thank you for your patience and your dedication to our endeavors over the years. I will forever remember our conversation at the CMA conference as when I was finally convinced to apply for managing editor. Kyle Constable, I will be forever grateful for your wisdom and knowledge this year. Your motivation and zeal for this field is inspiring. Thank you to Stephanie Sheehan for taking on the magical journey that is managing editor- I have no doubt in your future success and I know you will bring something really special to the position next year.
And thank you Matt Zabierek, for your endless support and humor these past two years. You’ve pushed me to challenge myself, while still making sure to take care of myself and not take life too seriously. Being able to turn to you to talk through ideas, to get through stressful times and to lean on for anything has made this entire experience that much more enjoyable and I’m grateful to have you by my side.
Bailey Wright is managing editor at The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.