I went to my first news meeting the Sunday after the involvement fair my freshman year. There was a story on the budget, a word I had never heard refer to anything non-monetary and which soon became an inextricable part of my vernacular, about students living in Cedar Ridge Apartments having problems with dirty water. I thought: This is what news is about, helping the underdog, telling stories that can change things. I was invigorated.
The first time I ever introduced myself as a reporter with The Daily Campus was when I called the Cedar Ridge management office trying to get a hold of someone there. It was a new and exciting title and I would have the honor of introducing myself that way hundreds of times over the next four years.
Right after I turned in my first story, my editor, Chris McDermott, immediately asked if I would be interested in doing a followup with another side of the story. I said yes.
For some reason, during my first few months at UConn there was a series of dirty water incidents including one in my own dorm. I became jokingly known as the dirty water beat reporter.
Everyone knows me as the girl with two jobs and three majors. But the biggest part of my UConn career is undoubtedly The Daily Campus. There were times when I had to rush out of my dorm to cover breaking news or rush back to it to submit the story I had written in the notes section of my phone. I did a phone interview in the coat closet at the Benton because it was the only quiet place I could find on short notice.
Being part of The Daily Campus put me on the front lines of UConn. Whenever there was something going on on campus, people asked me if I knew about it, and most of the time I did. I covered everything from a protest the day after Donald Trump was elected in 2016 to the infamous blended burger.
The first month of my sophomore year I was part of a skeleton crew of a news section. Gabby DeBenedictis, someone I barely talked to freshman year and has since become one of my best friends at UConn, and I were the news section. Most days, the entire front page was written entirely by one or both of us. It was exhausting and I nearly got stranded in Hartford covering a story that semester, but I never felt burnt out.
Every time I saw my name in print, every time I shared one of my stories on social media, every time someone took the time to email me thanking me for writing a story made it worth the stress.
As I started working production and spending more time at The Daily Campus my junior year, it truly started to feel like a second home at UConn. There’s something special about the kind of laughter that only comes out when you’re sleep deprived and waiting to copy edit one last page at 2 a.m.
In every role I’ve had at The Daily Campus over the past four years, there have been highs and lows. I’ve joked that you aren’t a real journalist until someone threatens to sue you.
This year I had the honor of serving as The Daily Campus’ Editor-in-Chief, which has been the most challenging and rewarding thing I have ever done.
I was surrounded by a group of talented and passionate staff who I am lucky enough to call my friends. From the ugly sweater parties to spending nights cooking together, my memory of UConn will largely be a mosaic of big and small moments with the people I knew because of The Daily Campus.
I have never had to respond to more angry emails than I did this year. But nothing was more cathartic than being able to come into The Daily Campus every night and know whoever was in that building would be on my side. I never doubted we would get through whatever we were facing coming out stronger than we knew we would ever need to be.
When I left production on March 12 I had a feeling I had just worked on my last ever print issue of The Daily Campus. Unfortunately I was right. The end of this semester is not the goodbye anyone wanted, but it doesn’t take away from all the experiences and memories the DC has brought me over the past four years. I honestly don’t know what my time at UConn would have looked like without all the amazing and crazy experiences the DC brought into my life.
It’s exceptionally appropriate that my time at The Daily Campus started with a story about water, because there’s certainly something in the water of the building at 1266 Storrs Road that makes it impossible to quit.
Anna Zarra Aldrich is the outgoing editor-in-chief for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.