When I first committed to UB, I was worried I had made the wrong choice.
Unfortunately, my freshman year did little to subdue my fears. The romanticized view of college my family and friends had painted for me was so far from my reality.
Coming from a small town where everyone doesn’t just know everyone, but also everyone’s grandparents, I struggled to make friends. I was nervous to talk to the people I dormed with, so I chose instead to settle into a routine of relative quiet and to accept my desperate desire to go home. In the spring semester of my freshman year, I started the process to transfer to SUNY Binghamton so I could be a commuter student.
As much as I hate to say it, assistant director of Residential Life Peter Smith was right: My life completely changed when I got a job as an RA in Evans Quad. This position was a sign to me that I did belong in this community; I just hadn’t found my place in it yet.
Amid the late-night staff meetings, bat sightings and eccentric residents, I found my college best friend (hi, Emma) and the friend group that would define my UB experience. Even with COVID-19’s rude interjection, the winding hallways of Evans Quad — with their muted bowling-alley-esque-carpets — became my home. That’s because the friends that had become my family lived throughout them.
The primary reason my college experience took a complete 180 was because I opened myself up to friendship and shared myself with others unapologetically.
Instead of worrying about how I would be perceived and thinking I wasn’t cool enough to hang out with the people I met freshman year, I went into every social situation with the best of intentions and stayed true to my honest self.
Once I did that, college became the life-changing experience everyone told me it would be.
It’s with that same attitude that I came to The Spectrum. Even though my time as an assistant editor was brief, I am so thankful for the amazing and talented people at this paper. Seriously, UB — you don’t understand how great the people behind these pages are.
Grant, your out-of-pocket sass and horrible handwriting will never be lost on me. You have so much to offer this paper and I can’t wait to see how you use your talents. Just make sure you buy the correct Spanish textbook next semester, since I won’t be around to send you the pictures of pages your edition is missing. Don’t forget to gaslight, gatekeep and girl boss — just don’t do any of those things too close to the sun.
Jack, I admire how open and accepting you are to new ideas; I think it’s one of your strongest qualities as a journalist. Let me know the next time you’re lobbying in Albany, I definitely want to be in your corner.
Julie, you are so unconditionally kind, and the world needs more people like you. From the moment we met, I could tell that you had a warmth in your soul that is so rare to find. I wouldn’t want to be thrown into this crazy office as a new assistant editor with anyone else. Please continue to take care of Grant if the two of you end up at Marcella again.
Kara, your imaginative writing will always be an inspiration to me. I’m going to miss complaining about Spanish class, your grandma-core sweatshirts and our constant commiserating about Broome County. I look forward to seeing you again at Tom & Marty’s.
Justin and Reilly, thank you for giving me the opportunity to explore journalism more this semester and for always pushing me to be a better writer and reporter. The two of you are amazing leaders and it was a privilege to work and learn alongside you.
The rest of The Spectrum staff, I could write something about every single one of you, but then this piece would be pages long. You are all talented, selfless and hilarious people with hearts of gold. It’s corny, but true. The fact that we all converged in this office at once is a blessing that I won’t forget, and you shouldn’t forget it either. Keep laughing with each other, and maybe do some stellar reporting every now and then.
As I say goodbye to UB, I want to dispense an indispensable piece of advice I have learned during my time in college (yes, random Spectrum employee who finds this in 10 years, this will still be relevant to you):
Take ownership of your life. Be an active and positive force in it. Lead with the best intentions and don’t hamper your true self. When you do these things, college will become the fantastical, romanticized myth your family and friends built it up to be. This experience is what you make of it, so take advantage of the independence you’ve earned and see where following your whims will take you. A lot of times, it may just take you to The Atrium for a midnight order of mozzarella sticks, the Evans Quad Hall Office for a screening of “Snakes on a Plane” or, if you’re really lucky, to the Walden Galleria Cheesecake Factory for the complimentary bread.
But, most likely, it will take you to the people who know you best and who you care for the most.
And there is nothing better than that.
Natalie Doller is an assistant news/features editor and can be reached at email@example.com