Senior Column: Alex Houdeshell

The author, then and now.

My very first weekend at UConn, after meeting my roommate, attending the mandatory sexual assault presentation, walking around campus with a stranger I hoped to turn into a friend, I left my dorm (good old Buckley) and went next door to The Daily Campus. 

That first weekend, pre-Involvement Fair, I signed up for my first article — a “Game of Thrones” season seven review that somehow got published on the front page — and a whole chapter of my life began. Who I am today has been indescribably changed by my experiences at The Daily Campus, in and out of the newsroom. 

Having been an avid book nerd growing up, I attribute a lot of my pre-college persona to reading. Now, post-college, I attribute the ways I’ve changed as a person to writing. As a writer for the Life section, I went to events I would have never had the interest or confidence to attend otherwise. I went to a drag show, and cultural events like Asian Nite and the closing ceremonies of African American History Month. I went to a puppet slam — yes, that is a real thing — where I saw a 10-minute performance of a man dressed in black slowly move a leg-shaped puppet around the stage. I went to marches and protests. I went to human rights lectures. I interviewed actors, administrators and pageant-winners. Sure, I learned stuff in class, but 90% of the learning I did in college happened while on-the-job for the Life section. 

Besides all that academic, cultural, self-improvement type stuff, I had the best and worst times – and my best and worst moments – because of The Daily Campus. When I started out, writing for Life and designing once a week, I was quiet, self-conscious and not sure how to insert myself. When the end-of-the-semester midnight diner trip and  Christmas party at Ted’s rolled around – my first ones – I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go. Luckily, my best friend and Daily Campus comrade rallied where I faltered. Thanks to Becca, we were a part of the tradition from the beginning of our time. 

Coming back for my sophomore year, walking into the newsroom for my first shift of the year, our then-editor-in-chief remembered my name. It was a huge moment for me; even if I hadn’t been the most rambunctious participant the year before, it made me feel like I belonged there. From then on, I only felt more emboldened. 

I traveled to Louisville for a conference and we accidentally ordered a frozen pizza that we had to beg the hotel to let us cook in their restaurant. I was in the newsroom at 2 a.m. when we started a Nerf gun fight. I was in the EIC office for the impromptu ukulele jam sesh that began while waiting for the diner trip. I was there for the newsroom debate about “Is coffee a date?” and moderated the podcast discussing the very important question. I wore my slutty dinosaur costume to our Halloween party, and I judged the ugly sweater contest at Christmastime.

When I was there long enough that I earned a leadership position of my own, my biggest goal was to keep up the crazy, loving, crackhead energy that The Daily Campus had always given me. I wanted people to feel comfortable dancing in the newsroom to TikTok songs, and throwing darts at water balloons to see if they would pop and just sharing stories with their friends while coloring in pictures of Disney princesses that we ultimately hung up in the bathroom. 

I have so much gratitude to those who came before me, for giving me a place where I could feel comfortable and invited. I have so much gratitude to everybody who I’ve worked with this year, for keeping me sane through crazy times and giving me a job I could look forward to coming in for every night.

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