Senior Column: The sun sets over Storrs, whether or not we are there to see it

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Julia Mancini is The Daily Campus’ outgoing life editor.  Photo courtesy of Charlotte Lao/The Daily Campus.

Julia Mancini is The Daily Campus’ outgoing life editor. Photo courtesy of Charlotte Lao/The Daily Campus.

Life is still good.

This is not how my senior year was supposed to end. I’ve thought about writing this column for a very long time now, but never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be doing it while quarantined in my home and finishing the semester remotely during a pandemic. 

When it became clear we wouldn’t be returning to campus for the remaining weeks of the spring semester, I quickly started mourning all of the people, places and memories I would be missing. I would never get to take senior pictures with my friends on Horsebarn Hill or have my last scoop of Dairy Bar ice cream at Senior Send-Off. I would never experience my last class of undergrad, at least not in the true sense of the word. My roommates and I wouldn’t wake up in our apartment on graduation day and pop champagne before donning our caps and gowns. 

But there are simpler things that come with leaving UConn that I know I’ll miss, regardless of the COVID-19 pandemic. I’ll miss singing with my best friends in the car, ordering Sgt. Peps at an ungodly hour on a random Wednesday just to get through a late night study session, drinking iced coffee on the Union lawn and even the UConn wind. 

But most of all, I’ve always known one of the hardest things to say goodbye to would be The Daily Campus. I’m fortunate enough to be returning to UConn to get my masters in education, so I’ll get a second chance at some of those “lasts.” But this is truly the end of my time here at The Daily Campus, an organization which has meant the world to me these past four years. And that’s difficult to come to terms with.

I first came to The Daily Campus four years ago, at the start of my freshman year. I had been involved with journalism in high school, producing a magazine in the basement of my high school four times a year. When it came time for college, I knew I wanted to stay involved in journalism in some regard.

Joining The Daily Campus when I got to UConn was a no-brainer. I was terrified and anxious to attend my first meeting, because I didn’t know which section would be the best fit. But that September, I walked myself from Towers to Storrs Center and made the mistake of attending an Opinion meeting. Shout out to Chris Sacco and Marissa Piccolo, and all the Opinion editors that have come after, because I immediately knew there was no way I had what it takes to write for your section. 

I walked the long road back to my dorm alone, with my tail between my legs, wondering what I had been thinking. I was so embarrassed, it took me about a month to muster up the courage to attend another meeting, but this time for a different section: Life. 

I didn’t talk much during my first Life meeting. There were a lot of people in the conference room, and everyone seemed to know what was going on besides me. But I took my first story (a recap of “The Bachelor”) and I never turned back. I found a home in the Life section.

Over the years, I have written well over 100 articles for The Daily Campus. I have covered everything from concerts, movie showings, Cultural Center events, UConn traditions, TV reviews, art openings and more. I’ve dealt with my fair share of scandals, but I’ve also had the opportunity to interview Yara Shahidi and meet people like Michael Che and Katya. Angela Kinsey, Bobby Moynihan and John Mulaney have read my articles. I’ve attended events and had opportunities I would never have imagined possible without The Daily Campus, and my appreciation is difficult to put into words. 

Who knew that “the girl who wrote those ‘Bachelor’ columns” would come so far?

Angie Derosa, Megan Krementowski and Francesca Colturi, if you ladies are reading this, I can’t thank you enough for all you’ve done for me. Not only did you welcome me into the section and let me continue that ridiculous weekly recap for most of the year, but you taught me so much about newswriting and leadership. You gave me confidence, encouragement and support; and I could not have asked for better editors. You took a chance on Schae and I that year and left your section in our hands, and I’ll be forever grateful. 

Schae Beaudoin, where do I begin? Thank you for putting up with me three years ago. We were both thrown into this whole editor thing together. As a senior, the last thing you probably wanted to do was deal with this inexperienced sophomore as an associate editor. But I’m grateful for our friendship and for learning how to do this job alongside you. You truly taught me so much about myself and about journalism, and I don’t know if I would be where I am today without you.

I also have to mention all the amazing editors-in-chief that I’ve worked with throughout the years. Julia Werth, Molly Stadnicki and Anna Aldrich — you were amazing influences and role models for me. You are all talented, intelligent, leading-ladies that shaped my time here at The Daily Campus and at UConn. I know that position isn’t easy and the Life section certainly contributed our fair share of drama, but thank you for all of your guidance. 

My final column wouldn’t be complete without also mentioning an editor-in-chief who is near and dear to my heart, Christopher Hanna. We met in a Life meeting and the rest is history. The Daily Campus brought us together and I could not ask for a more supportive boyfriend (or a better food critic). 

Honorable mentions to everyone who has ever given me a ride (you didn’t think I’d actually walk the mile to and from Towers every week, did you?), all the other section editors I’ve had the pleasure of working with, all the copyeditors, designers and photographers who’ve dealt with my insane requests or emails and anyone who bought coffee with me at an unhealthy hour. I especially need to thank all the Life writers. There are more of you than I could ever name here, but each of you has left an indelible impact on my life. 

And lastly, I have to give a very special shout-out to my current associate editor and forever friend, Melissa Scrivani. She’s been by my side since high school, and we started at The Daily Campus together. We’ve been roommates for three years and I would not be here without her. Melissa, you’ve been there for the late nights, early mornings, heartaches, celebrations, insane adventures, mundane moments and everything in between. Without your support these past few years, I think I would’ve crashed and burned. You helped shape the section into what it is today, and I can’t thank you enough for doing Life (and life) with me. Whoever wins DC BFFs next year clearly has enormous shoes to fill. 

While I was first and foremost a writer and Life editor, a huge part of my time here at The Daily Campus was spent designing the Life section during production. This meant impossibly late nights working at the computer. I’d get stomach aches from sitting down for so long, and my eyes are permanently damaged from staring at the same pixelated screen for hours. I complained endlessly about production nights at the time; I was tired and stressed and overwhelmed. But those were hollow complaints. 

I cherished those nights at The Daily Campus more than anything. They defined my time here at UConn. I’ve met some of my favorite people and made some of my favorite memories in that little building, nestled between Moe’s and Buckley. Let’s be honest, we spent more time singing, dancing and laughing during those nights than we actually did producing the paper. 

Now, it’s about time I let readers in on a little secret that I’ve been quietly holding onto. From my corner at the Life computer, I had a special view. It was sacred to me. I could see all of the newsroom, from the entrance hallway to the offices. I was in the perfect position to see some intense mini-basketball games go down, I watched history being made on the couches as some of The Daily Campus greats wrote their biggest articles, I was the first to see anyone coming up the stairs and I had an awesome view of our managing editors (shout-out to Steph and Alex) calling the printer at 2 a.m. to make sure our pages were all set. 

But perhaps most importantly, I had the best window in the building all to myself. I’m led to believe that everyone else took it for granted, but from my view from the Life computer, I saw life go by on the UConn campus. Over the hundreds of hours I spent sitting in that desk chair, I saw icicles form on bitter winter evenings, heard the traffic and sirens on Storrs Road at the height of rush hour and I watched students slacklining by the water on those rare, warm spring afternoons. But my favorite, unparalleled view was the sunset over Mirror Lake. 

I had the pleasure of seeing the most beautiful sunsets from my computer, from my little corner of The Daily Campus. I know other Life designers occupied that chair, but for one day a week that view and that sunset was mine. I may have been awake for a few choice sunrises as well, but that’s another story. Sunsets were a source of consistency and peace during a hectic college career. Sorry for waxing poetic (I am getting an English degree in a few days, after all), but those glorious sunsets made every late night, every deadline, every headline, every workshopped article and every interview worth it. I know there are exciting things ahead for me, but as the sun sets on my undergraduate career at UConn and on my time here at The Daily Campus in a rather unconventional, unexpected way, I would give anything to have just one more sunset from that window. 

That being said, I want to wish everyone the best of luck at The Daily Campus next year. I’m leaving my beloved section in the capable hands of Hollie Lao and Becca Maher — I know you ladies will make me proud next year. It isn’t easy letting go of this section that’s been my whole life (pun fully intended) for the past three years, but I have the utmost faith in you both. The incoming staff of the newspaper is going to do amazing things, and I can’t wait to see where you take our humble publication. Just don’t forget to appreciate the sunsets every once in a while: The last one has a habit of sneaking up on you. 


Julia Mancini is the outgoing life editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at Julia.mancini@uconn.edu

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