Senior Column: Anna Thai

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The author then and now. Photos provided by author.

Wow. Last year, I was designing the 2022 graduation edition and this year, I’m in it. I can’t believe I’m this close to being done. Four years ago, I was a little first year exploring the depths of UConn, excited for everything it had to offer. So many people, clubs, activities – I was enamored by it all. Then, COVID-19 hit, and I forgot what being a college student was supposed to feel like. To this day, I believe that COVID-19 deprived myself and many other students valuable opportunities but am nonetheless grateful that I was able to achieve what I have now.  

In the summer of 2021, I decided to apply for my second ever job on campus (the first was the Gelfenbien dining hall). Though Gelfenbien was pretty cool, it was just a job. I wanted to work in a place where I would be able to learn from and grow my skills. I knew I was always interested in graphic design but had no idea where to start since it was just a minor interest. I was faced with a roadblock.  

In high school, I considered myself to be quite artistic. I took several art classes and even pondered the idea of majoring in interior design. My plans took a turn when I had serious talks with my parents, did some of my own research regarding art as a career and thought more deeply about my future. The field of medicine was always an option as it is a stable career, pays well and is extremely rewarding. Everyone was telling me that I should give it a chance, so I gave in and decided to major in Allied Health. Although I learned to love this major and everything it has to offer, it’s hard for me to not think about the “what if.” What if I took a completely different route? 

Here’s where The Daily Campus came in.  

Shortly after applying for the designer role, I received an email letting me know that I would be a life designer. Little did I know that this would mean that I would have an abundance of creative freedom to dabble with fonts, colors, shapes and more. Design is trial and error, much like life, and I recall feeling so unsure of myself the first couple of weeks of working the position. I was overwhelmed, as there was too much to learn and I was always the last one to leave because I was indecisive about every design I put out. Despite my worries, the managing editor at the time, Brandon Barzola, and others who worked Tuesday night production, restored my confidence and reminded me to keep learning. I admired the work from other designers and would often use their designs as inspiration. In my free time, I would research how to use Adobe’s creative suite so I would be able to utilize new tools in the software. Even today, the work I put out is not up to my best standard, but I’m slowly learning to enjoy the process more and more each day. As a result, I started to love coming to work, as it was an opportunity for me to hone my craft and try out new ideas.  

During my time at the DC, I was lucky enough to meet Sam Zelin — who is this year’s managing editor as well as my gym partner. He quickly became a close friend and a fellow designer that I could rely on. If you’re reading this Sam, thanks for everything and for encouraging me to write! Because I was so passionate to share the greatness that the DC had offered me, I also convinced two of my best friends to start working this year. Shout out to copy editor Rachael Lai and designer Kelly Yeung!   

The DC gave me the opportunity to learn and the courage to pursue something I was always curious about. Today I want people to know that I am now considering work in design along with work in the medical field. From a fellow student, if you know you love something and want to pursue it, do it. Go for it, because this is your sign. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t because you’re going to regret it. I want to thank the DC for reigniting my passion for art and for giving me a new perspective on life. Cheers and congratulations to the class of 2023! 

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