Views from the 132

How I found a home in an unlikely spot – the Student Union

I remember the moment distinctly, even now almost four years later.

I was standing outside of NSC 112 after my first class freshman year with one thought in my head: What now?

I had almost an hour and a half before my next class and nothing to do during that break. As a commuter, I didn’t have the ability to go back to my dorm to kill time, and although my house is less than 10 minutes away from North Campus, I was already well aware of the risks of leaving my prime parking spot up for grabs.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: UB was not my first choice for my undergraduate college career. If anything, I applied to it as my “worst-case scenario.” I grew up thinking UB was essentially right in my backyard and no matter how many people told me how great of a school it would be, I wanted to get as far away as possible. So to end up walking through the halls and sitting in lectures of the one school I vowed to never step into, I was miserable.

During my first couple of years at UB I felt like I was going through the motions – I drove to campus in the morning for classes then left as soon as my last one was over to either go to work or hang out with my other commuter friends I knew from high school. Even after I started taking journalism classes – the one subject I was planning my life around – I didn’t feel part of the “UB community.” It wasn’t until my junior year I found my niche.

My defining UB moment happened while I was thousands of miles away from UB.

I mentioned my passion for journalism and dream to become a star news anchor as I was standing in a broadcast studio while studying abroad in Berlin, Germany. Although I thought I was nonchalant about it, that was all it took before I found myself about a month later writing my first article as a contributing writer for the news desk.

Without that moment, which seemed so small at the time, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

I quickly moved through the ranks from contributing writer all the way to senior news editor within what now seems to be a whirlwind of a year. I’ve spent many hours researching, interviewing and writing for countless of articles and columns. There were times when I wanted to rip my hair out from frustration and mornings where I couldn’t function without several cups of coffee after staying up editing half of the night. And of course, there were moments where I had to take a step back and remind myself that the stress would be worth it in the end.

But those moments seem so small in comparison to the feeling of seeing the article you worked so hard to accomplish on the front page and in the hands of so many people. There was the week during my time as an assistant news editor where one day I was standing in the Student Union among the University Police covering an alleged gun being dropped on the stairs and the next day I was running up and down the floors of Clemens Hall searching for the “Black Only” and “White Only” signs before breaking the story with my colleagues.

And although after that week was over I was ready to sleep for a few days, the feeling of seeing my article being linked in The New York Times, The Huffington Post and other well-known news sites woke me right back up.

But ultimately, nothing will compare to how I went from standing alone trying to figure out my next move freshman year to knowing I was right at home with my Spectrum family while working in 132 Student Union.

And while it’s cliché to talk about many people I have to thank for getting me to this point in my life – two weeks away from graduation with graduate school right ahead of me – it’s the truth.

Without the dedicated and talented people I was surrounded with in that window-less dungeon of an office, I would not have survived this crazy year and a half. To the ones who I saw more than my own family, the ones who had to deal with my lame jokes and constant need to say everything that came into my head and of course the ones who I spent countless hours venting to – I cannot thank you enough. Because of all of you, I look back at my experience at UB, something I originally dreaded, knowing I made the right decision.

And now as I enter my last week of undergraduate classes and head into adulthood at a rapid pace, I’ll look at the Spectrum’s mural outside of 132 Student Union and not have to worry, What now? Because thanks to UB and thanks to The Spectrum, I know what’s next.

Marlee Tuskes is the senior news editor and can be reached at