Senior Column: Concerts and Community: What the DC has given me

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The author, then and now.

As I sat and thought about what I wanted to say for my senior column, I couldn’t help but scroll back through the (now archived) Daily Campus Squarespace site and reread the very first article I wrote for the Life section. Dated Sept. 19, 2017 – a little less than a month after I stepped foot on the UConn campus as a freshman – the article is one that completely escaped my memory: A feature piece on a UConn graduate student who released a single. The article is short and sweet, with quotes that were most certainly emailed to me – I hadn’t yet conquered the worthwhile but terrifying phone interview. Rereading the article, I couldn’t help but smile about how despite the way in which so many things have changed between then and now, some other things have stayed exactly the same. 

As I kept scrolling through the archive, I stumbled upon the article that completely changed my outlook on writing. The piece was one I wrote at the beginning of my second-semester freshman year about what to expect for the 2018 music festival season. I had originally thought of it as somewhat of a throwaway article; nothing special. That was, until, a press person that represented the Governors Ball Music Festival reached out to me via email to express her gratitude that I included the Gov Ball lineup in my piece. More than that, she asked if I would be interested in conducting an interview with one of the co-founders of the fest.

I was completely floored upon receiving this email – I distinctly remember texting my parents about it in all caps and running around my dorm floor to tell anybody who would listen. Growing up outside of the city and attending Gov Ball throughout high school, the festival was a big deal to me and before that email, I had never imagined that writing for my school newspaper could lead to such incredible opportunities like that very first Gov Ball interview.

I’ll never forget that first phone interview. I banished my roommate from our Alumni dorm room for 30 minutes, had all my questions typed out and tried to modulate my voice to sound like a “real adult.” That interview article opened my eyes to the fact that as a journalist I could reach out to press contacts, request interviews and – as my concert-obsessed self joyously grasped – get free media passes. 

I have many memorable highlights of concerts I was able to attend through media passes. One of these were the VIP tickets I scored to the Kygo concert at the Javits Center in Manhattan that took place on the last day of Pride month. It also happened to be my friend’s birthday, and my plus-one ticket for her served as the ultimate present. Another that stands out in my mind is the photo pit access I got to Fool’s Gold Day Off in 2018 at the Knockdown Center in Queens, where I moshed with the other photographers as Sheck Wes sang “Mo Bamba.” However, that very first Gov Ball holds a special place in my heart.

Getting to go to Gov Ball for all three days for free with access to the media tent (for two years in a row!) was, at the time, my dream come true. Both years, I interviewed a different band in person and was able to bring a plus-one, making my friends pretty happy that I was able to get the gig, too. I still have my media wristbands stashed away in my room at home for posterity’s sake. Writing for the DC showed me just how much was possible if you simply reached out, made connections and tried for it. Of course, everything didn’t always work out – I was never able to interview Brockhampton, although their press people did respond to my email with a nice “No,” rather than fully ignoring me, which was enough to make me excited. Yet, the possibility was enough to open my eyes to the extent of what journalism – and specifically, working for an esteemed college paper like The Daily Campus – could do.

When COVID-19 hit, however, it put an end to the live entertainment. I think it was this natural break – along with my changing interests– that reflected in my different article topics. Because I’ve written for the DC for the entirety of my college career, looking back at old articles has become more than just a walk down memory lane; instead, I can truly see the journey of me finding myself and my authentic passions right there on the page (or computer screen). In this way, my articles for the DC have become a living, breathing archive of my personal thoughts and feelings. 

While I’ve always been passionate about social justice and history – with my individualized major focusing on the study of race relations and the Black experience through the history and literature of the United States and Latin America – I have always struggled to find a way to bridge this academic pursuit with my journalistic writing. However, as another wave of protests against the racial violence that has historically taken place since our country’s genesis hit this past summer – mainly spurred by the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor – I turned to none other than The Daily Campus to express myself. My sole Opinion article I’ve written for the paper, entitled “It’s Not About Me: The pursuit of white allyship in the fight to end racism” is most certainly the article I’m most proud of, as well as the one that took the most courage in writing. I’ll never forget how a woman in Utah reached out to me via email to tell me how my article affected her.

Yet again, The Daily Campus showed me exactly what journalism can do. This time, I could see how all of my interests – writing, history, social justice, music – could be combined to create something valuable and permanent. Having the opportunity to cover events such as the Angela Davis talk, as well as write more information-based articles on topics such as Black history facts that are often overlooked in the K-12 classroom, didn’t just feel worthwhile and important, but also shed more light on what I potentially could do as a career path.

Looking back through this immense archive of work from my four years of writing at The Daily Campus is a bittersweet feeling. As someone that was involved in other organizations and groups outside of the DC, it’s sometimes easy to forget just how much being part of the community at The Daily Campus has impacted my college experience for the better. Since I began writing for the Life section as a freshman and then additionally became a Digital Producer as a junior, it almost seemed like a given to me that the DC would always be a part of my life – something that I knew, that my friends knew, but that I didn’t think about all that much. Reflecting now makes me realize that the DC didn’t just give me the improved writing skills or free concert tickets, but also a thoughtful and loving community.

I certainly felt more connected to the DC community when I became a Digital Producer. Although I only had one “normal” semester of working production because of the rise of the pandemic, that one semester was certainly better than nothing. I remember looking forward to my production nights, despite the fact that I would often be making the short walk back to my Alumni dorm room at 1 a.m. and setting my alarm for 7 a.m. the next day. What I remember most from these late nights of production was the laughter, the music and of course, the crucial 7-Eleven runs. What was also so exciting about production nights was how inviting everyone was. I never knew who I might strike up a conversation with on any given night, and it was that fluidity and ease of being at the DC that made working there feel like a family. 

That sense of family was really bolstered by my Digital Editors my junior year, Courtney Gavitt and Kim Nguyen. Courtney – it’s crazy that we went from living on the same floor our freshman year to working alongside one another at the DC for all four years. Kim – your presence was always so calming and bright. Our memories both inside and outside of the DC are so special to me. This year, Grace McFadden further fostered the sense of a Digital family along with Courtney (despite the year being more or less fully virtual!) as she took on the role of Digital Editor. 

In addition to my Digital community, there will always be my Life family. Julia Mancini and Melissa Scrivani were the Life editors I worked with for two years. The energy they created for the section was heartwarming and hardworking. I especially remember Julia’s constant support of my pitches to cover different concerts, music festivals and artist interviews, and her encouragement always meant so much to me. This year, Hollie Lao and Becca Maher continued the tradition of creating a tight-knit Life group, despite the fact that we had to be fully virtual, which is certainly no easy feat.

While it won’t be easy to say goodbye to The Daily Campus – and really, all of UConn – I know it’s not so much of a goodbye. The work I’ve done and the connections I’ve made at the DC will always be a part of me and will continue to influence everything I do from this point forward. Along with my other experiences at UConn, the DC will always have a special place in my heart. So while I may be physically signing off for now, that doesn’t mean I’ll be putting down my pen and paper anytime soon.

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