Senior Column: Naiela Suleiman

The author as a baby. Photo courtesy of the author

I think my experience at the University of Connecticut would have sucked without The Daily Campus. Admittedly, UConn was the last place I thought I would end up for my undergraduate career, I had lived in Connecticut all my life and finally wanted out. I was reluctant and struggled to find my footing until I stumbled upon The Daily Campus. I remember walking the 2018 fall involvement fair as a freshman with a personal goal to sign up for three organizations. It wasn’t until I could hear Chris Hanna, editor-in-chief at the time, loudly advertising the DC stand and calling attention to themselves, that I found my first (and only) target. Intrigued by his tactics, I was happy to find the campus student-run paper. He encouraged me to sign up emphasizing that there is only a commitment if you choose to do so. For someone who was already apprehensive about being at UConn, it felt like a great opportunity to dip my toes without making a splash. 

The very next week I stood at the bottom of what had to be the most suspicious set of stairs on this campus. I was thrown by the littered garbage and cinder block propping the back door open, but I still chose to go up and anxiously joined my first news meeting. I surprised myself by taking a story. The next week I came back and did the same thing, and continued to do so until I couldn’t go a week without it. Before I was able to realize it, I was fully committed to The Daily Campus. 

The author currently. Photo courtesy of the author

There were only a few nights I remember being in the production room, but it was electric. Being surrounded by so many passionate journalists ignited those same feelings within me, and I became a staff writer by the end of my freshman year. 

Every person I met within the walls of its building made me feel welcome and showed me they had a genuine love for the DC. It was something about that positive energy that compelled me back to the newsroom each and every week. 

This paper has a strong beating heart that is kept alive by each and every one of its members, and I feel lucky to have been part of something so beautiful for so long. 

The experience and confidence I now have in myself as a journalist are all because of the countless interviews and article rewrites I did over the years. I’ve had the chance to work alongside some of the most amazing and talented News editors, who not only encouraged me to explore my love for journalism but supported me even when I was struggling to produce my best work (with a specific thank you to Ashley and Taylor, this experience wouldn’t have been the same without you both). 

I loved nothing more than getting the chance to connect with the UConn campus each week through my writing. The News section gave me space to have a voice, even if it was small, and make a mark for myself. I am a few days away from graduating, and the first in my family to do so. This is an accomplishment that I am proud of largely in part because of the DC and the many articles I have added to my portfolio over the years.  On the other hand, I walk away having gained new relationships I hope to carry with me for as long as I live. 

In that same vein, I want to thank Hannah, Nadya, Emily and Karissa for being the backbone of my time here at UConn. The support and love you have shown me could last a lifetime. 

Thank you to the journalism department and the many distinguished professors (Marie Shanahan and Julie Serkosky in particular) that have fueled my goals since day one, even though some weren’t primarily journalism-based. Your commitment to my education and being a mentor are appreciated. 

Lastly, I must send a huge thank you to Kim Duby from the Dean of Students office. I couldn’t have made it to this point without you. Your kindness and guidance will never be forgotten. 

As I say a reluctant goodbye to the DC and pursue a Master’s in social work, I must say this. I will always be a journalist. The skills and knowledge that I have collected over my time here are not easily disposed of, nor is my passion to connect with other people via pen and paper. I appreciate all those who took the time over the years to read my work and hope you come across me again one day.

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