Before I began my pursuit of journalism … actually, scratch that. During my first-ever interview in February 2012, a source gave me the greatest advice I could ever use.
“Life is about dealing with all situations in moderation,” he said. “Whether you’re a celebrity, a teacher or just a guy with a shovel in his hand, digging a ditch.”
That source was my grandfather, William Cassidy. Our interview –– which lasted several hours longer than I could’ve projected –– was part of my eighth-grade physical education project to interview someone with a career in athletics and ultimately write a report on their life.
In my many late-night dinner conversations with my grandfather since that interview, I realized he wasn’t necessarily a “professional” athlete –– just an avid golfer, a former master caddy and the king of his telephone company in the ‘80s. But every person he knew tells a different story about him. And he’d tell you a different story during every meal.
I never expected his encouragement when I was elected editor-in-chief a year ago, when we talked on the phone as I was standing outside of the Student Union, to mean so much to me 11 months after he passed. And I never expected his advice about handling things in moderation to carry through to my first role as a leader this year, but it did.
As I say goodbye to The Spectrum today, and to the last four years of becoming the writer I always dreamed of becoming, I also say goodbye to the position my grandfather knew me to excel in. I’m hopeful he’d be proud of what I’ve accomplished in these four years and what we, as a staff, made happen this year.
And in all fairness, everything I learned at The Spectrum is only a result of my friends and mentors who stood by me.
To Ben: Those who enter Student Union 132 for years to come will remember everything you’ve done for this paper, from making us an untouchable force on social media for the first time ever –– something which you did against all odds –– to writing stories that will go down in history as the most important features The Spectrum has ever pursued. You are the sole reason I even gave this a try at the start, and you’ll be the reason hundreds of future Bens and Brentons take notice.
Tanveen, if it wasn’t for you, I honestly don’t think I could’ve gotten through the last two years of this, or have had the courage to be doing the things I love everyday on the side. I knew you had a spark when you started pitching me ideas about German rappers the moment we met, despite me not even being your immediate editor. And that thought was solidified for me the second I had to fact-check your 1,000-word column about international trade, which I still hate you for. You’re the best features writer I know –– yes, that includes myself –– and you’ll always be my favorite news editor. I, too, am glad to be graduating college with a best pal forever.
Jacklyn, there was never a doubt in my mind when I chose you to be my managing editor last year. I’m glad to have met somebody so willing to tell people how things are going to be, although I admittedly jumped a little bit every time you yelled at our staff to pay attention in class. Thanks for being someone I could confide in and standing behind our vision for this paper through it all. We did it, dude.
Sam, I’m so grateful we’ve grown as close as we have this year. From the cancelled tattoo appointments to your passion-project columns about your ever-delightful cat Simon, you’re never afraid to be who you are in print and in person. We’ll be friends for quite a long time, but still, this is a sentimental-ass column, so I have to say something like “don’t ever lose that.”
Jody, I can’t thank you enough for your years of lessons and insight. The first day I walked into that Spectrum classroom, I was admittedly petrified of you. But your tough love was exactly what I needed to grow into who I am today. I hope that the things I’ve left the paper with are even somewhat comparable to everything you’ve given me since I was 18. I’m blessed to have called you a teacher and I’m glad I can call you a friend.
Helene, you’re my office mom. Fiscal transitions nearly ruined our lives a year ago. But through it all, we’ve managed to talk trash about anyone who was getting on our nerves and you’ve walked me through how to call an insurance company for the first time as an adult. Thank you. I’ll be sure to call periodically with more comedy routines.
To our 2019-20 editorial staff: You have been the hardest-working and most compassionate staff I’ve ever been a part of in my four years at the paper. Not only have we triumphed during a pandemic, but the memes have been otherworldly. And it’s an honor to know we did this together.
Paul and Lauryn, I literally did not deserve you at all this year. Lauryn, you saved our asses so many times over and Paul, you’ve absolutely shined as a freshman.
Cassi and Savanna, your humor made us all feel welcome during late nights and your tolerance for my Trillers did not go unnoticed. I hope this year was everything you wanted it to be.
Alexandra and Reilly, I’m so grateful to be passing this paper down to two passionate reporters. Alex, never lose your love for uplifting others’ voices. It’s what makes you special. Reilly, I’ve never met someone so willing to take on literally any story ever. Keep that trait. Pass it on. There’s a whole future staff ready to learn from you both.
And to the rest of my lovely news desk, Julian and Liz: You will make excellent reporters wherever you go. Nicole, I have no doubt that you have what it takes to help make students care. To my multimedia friends –– Vindhya, Wayne, Alex and Alexis: We started last summer with a bare desk and it has been a pleasure watching the four of you make it flourish. Wayne, your strength this year has been incredibly admirable. Vindhya, keep trying new things and changing how we approach multimedia.
To my sports desk: It was a weird start to the year without a sports editor (a blessing in disguise), but I still think that decision brought us some of our best yet. Justin, you are the most capable sports reporter I’ve ever met. I have a feeling I’ll start seeing your byline everywhere I turn. Anthony and Alex, you have so many years ahead of you to make this sports section special and you’re already doing it. Myah, I wish we had more time with you, but I have no doubt you have the skills to do something special.
To my lovely arts folks –– Alex, Isabella, Justin and Anya. Alex, I still remember when you walked in my office and told me how much you wanted to be an editor. And I’m so glad you’ve led this crew, because I honestly think your knowledge of music might make you my editor some day, too. The rest of you guys brought something super special to a desk that built me, and I hope you can continue to do that wherever you go.
To the former editors who always encouraged me from the start –– Brian, Maddy, Tom, Max and others: I hope I made you proud reading as alumni this year.
And to my loving family on the outside: Mom, Dad, Nanny, Liam, Carron, Cara, Juliana: I’m only writing this because of the support you’ve shown me throughout the last few years. You’ve read all my articles, encouraged me to be my best self and have held your tongues every time you heard me rant about rising pop stars. I won’t forget it.
Finally, to our readers: I hope this year inspired you to join our staff, read The Spectrum just a bit more or engage with the community. My whole motive for becoming an editor was to make you feel heard, and I hope I did that in some way.
This paper gave me my best friends, strengthened my bond with my brother and led me to my first clips as a music journalist.
Wherever I land after this, I always want to be a leader. But not just a leader; one that handles situations in moderation. I want to always be a leader that cares.
Brenton Blanchet was the editor-in-chief and can now be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @brentonblanchet.
Brenton J. Blanchet is the 2019-20 editor-in-chief of The Spectrum. His work has appeared in Billboard, Clash Magazine, DJBooth, PopCrush, The Face and more. Ask him about Mariah Carey.