Senior Column: The people make the place  

The author then and now. Photos provided by author

When I came to the University of Connecticut, I knew I wanted to keep writing in some capacity. As an English major, I was interested in the student newspaper, but didn’t know much about it. During a summer program at UConn before my freshman year, I met someone working the front desk of AsACC who told me that they had a friend, Kim Nguyen, who was an editor at The Daily Campus. We became friends on Facebook and she was super nice and open to talking to me about joining The Daily Campus. 

Not long after freshman year began, I was taking photos of my friend outside of Whitney dining hall with their camera (which I knew next to nothing about using) and some guy walked out of the dining hall and said, “Oh, cool.” The very next day, I ran into the same guy – Judah Shingleton – at McMahon dining hall. As we sat together and started talking, I learned he was a photographer at The Daily Campus. Soon enough, I was a member of the Life and Photo sections.

When I started writing for the Life section, the very first article I wrote was event coverage on a new exhibit at the Benton, curated by a political cartoonist who goes by Mr. Fish. Interviewing someone for the first time was nerve wracking – I had no idea what I was doing. As someone who didn’t get very involved in high school, I quickly fell in love with writing articles for The Daily Campus. My first semester, there were a few weeks where I wrote an article every day and it paid off when I was hired as a staff writer for my second semester. Through it all, then-Life editor Julia Mancini helped me better my writing and was always there to cheer me on as I kept getting more involved with The Daily Campus. 

Despite not knowing anything about photography before college, the Photo section helped me grow quickly. Charlotte Lao, Nick Hampton, Eric Yang, Eric Wang, Maggie Chafouleas and Judah are all amazing photographers who taught me so much. If not for joining Photo and Life, I wouldn’t have known about all the obscure events and clubs on campus. I’ve been able to cover a wide range of events: concerts, protests, basketball games and more. 

Thinking back on it, I’ve been a part of production since the very start. I used to be that weird freshman who would show up most nights of production and just hang out and do homework until people started to learn my name and I was a regular member of production. Sophomore year, I actually worked production as a designer and copy editor (and became a double major with journalism). Later, I had the opportunity to work as the associate managing editor under then-managing editor Alex Houdeshell. 

I was nervous going into the role of managing editor my senior year, trying to live up to how great Alex was during her two years in the role. Alums like Courtney Gavitt and Kim Nguyen were always there to give me advice, even when I doubted my abilities to lead. My fellow executives, Maggie Chafouleas and Grace McFadden, kept me sane through it all and were always there to support me, no matter what. We dealt with a lot this year – trying to lead an organization after a pandemic forced everyone into quarantine for a year and a half. Still, I was incredibly lucky to be in this position with two of my bestest friends, and I think we did a pretty damn good job.

I’ve been at The Daily Campus during production for more time than I’ll ever know. It all sort of blends together, but the memories of singing, dancing, crying, laughing and overall being chaotic college kids producing a newspaper every night of the week will live on in my Snapchat memories, my hard drive and, of course, my heart. 

There’s really no way to sum up four years in a single column, but I’m very thankful for having found The Daily Campus very early on, and I’m eternally grateful to everyone who helped me get to where I am today. Joining this organization was the best decision I ever made at UConn, and I wouldn’t want to change a single thing. No matter how much sleep I lost, no matter how many late assignments I may have turned in – Every hour spent at The Daily Campus was worth it.

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