My very first article for The Daily Campus was a review of the movie “Home Again” with Reese Witherspoon. At the time, I was a freshman, sick with mono, who had just gotten my voice back after three weeks of scaring off potential friends with my monstrous attempts at speaking around my tonsils. In fact, one of the only people I didn’t terrify was Alex Houdeshell, a girl on my floor who worked for the newspaper. When I finally started to feel a little better, halfway through September, I started going to Life Section meetings with her. And on the 18th, we used our U-Passes for the first and last time to take the bus to the East Brook Mall to catch “Home Again.”
I’ve got to say, looking back, my first article is hilarious. That’s not to say it’s a bad review. Obviously, I was a born newspaper protégé. What’s hilarious is that I don’t mention the fact that my movie trip ended up taking around five hours, because with all our planning we didn’t see that the next bus back to UConn wouldn’t come for three hours after the movie ended. After some quick math and some spur-of-the-moment decision making, I joked that we could probably walk the six miles back and beat the bus. But since we had already seen the sights of the East Brook Mall — Claire’s and Subway — the joke quickly became our best option.
As Alex and I walked six miles on that 90-degree day, something incredibly important happened to us. We became best friends. And as the days and years went by, The Daily Campus continued to be the glue that held us together. We would go to events together freshman year and walk to meetings together sophomore year. It forced us to talk to each other while we were fighting during our junior year, and now, this past year, it reunited us during, of all things, a pandemic.
When I think back at what I did during my college career, I honestly don’t think that much about my classes or my professors. I think about the events I covered, the 2 a.m. hysterical giggles as production refused to ever end and the Life Breakers every Sunday. I think about the time I insulted a famous cookbook writer, and then befriended her and heard her entire life story a week later.
I think about how I felt when I got to see John Mulaney and the Kinsey Sicks in person. I think about how I got the time wrong to interview Tarana Burke, and had to run barefoot across campus, in formal wear, to meet her. I think about that professor who pretended to be Charles Darwin and the haunted truck that came for Halloween one year. I think about how I would strategically pick events with snack potential, and how one time I took an entire baguette and a block of cheese from the appetizer table as if I was grocery shopping.
I think about that time Stephanie Sheehan and I ordered and obsessed over a box of squishy toys that we referred to as squishies. And how we threw them at the ceiling. I think about the uncooked pizza a bunch of us ordered to our hotel room during the National College Media Convention. I think about the fact that my college newspaper brought me to Kentucky of all places. I think about packing the Vernon Diner with 40-plus newspaper employees on the last night of production and ordering a decaf coffee and french toast and shamelessly stealing the homefries of everyone around me.
I think about running the Life section with Hollianne Lao, and watching how our workshopping and compassion genuinely helped our writers to improve and feel more comfortable writing articles. I think about going around the Food Truck Festival with Hollie twice, in the name of journalism, and how full we were before we broke out the tupperware. I think about the dangerous game we played, private messaging each other on Zoom during the Life meetings.
If I hadn’t been part of The Daily Campus, I know for a fact that I would not be the person I am today. I am more confident in my writing, in my ability to talk to strangers and lead a section and more comfortable being myself than I ever was before I started at UConn. This newspaper forced me to go to events I never would have attended and meet people I never would have come across otherwise. I am beyond grateful for the newspaper, because in our big campus of tens of thousands of students, it gave me a purpose, a sense of importance and, most of all, a family.
The other day, Alex and I got lost on a hike and ended up walking six miles instead of the two we had planned. It’s nice to see we’ve come full circle after everything we’ve gone through together these past four years. It’ll be strange not working with her and my other friends from the DC anymore. But I have hope that with all our journalistic curiosity and amazing writing ability, we’ll stay in touch and stay close, whatever lies ahead.