This will be both the first and last column I write for The Spectrum.
It feels daunting to reflect on three years packed with experiences which shaped me as a student, friend, artist and person. But all good stories start at the beginning, so I’m sitting here reminiscing on my first days at The Spectrum.
Yeah, this looks fun. I’ll give it a shot.
During my first week on campus in fall 2019, I spotted The Spectrum’s table at UB’s involvement fair during Welcome Weekend. I’d taken my first graphic design class in high school the year prior and the call for graphic designers on the poster piqued my interest.
I don’t have much to show, but I hope it’s good enough.
I scrambled together a meager portfolio from the handful of assignments and projects I’d done so far. Looking back now, some of them are still pretty good, just definitely not “portfolio material” — I don’t think they’ll be getting me a job anytime soon. But hey, it worked, and I became an assistant creative director for my college newspaper.
Over the following months, I began finding my place in this bustling office. One of my favorite parts about The Spectrum is that the news never stops. As soon as we finished a story about a softball player tied for UB’s home run record, she broke it. Days after a student-led protest of a guest speaker reached national news, the talk of the campus shifted to the potentially grossest controversy of recent years, regarding certain student club events in a lecture hall. As I parked at my freshman year dorm ahead of what I thought would be a regularly scheduled production day, I found out it was on fire.
And as soon as we thought a semester wasn’t interesting enough, we were thrust into one of the most historically significant events of the 21st century.
This is so cool! I can’t wait to see what’s in store this spri-
The email announcing UB would shift to remote learning for the indefinite future circulated through campus seemingly at light-speed. That day, I found myself taking photos of an apocalyptic Teddy’s Convenience Store as students rushed to redeem their remaining dining dollars and record their first impressions of potentially life-changing news.
This campus never stops, and neither does The Spectrum, and that’s something I was taught by every person I’ve shared 132 Student Union with. Every single day, the editors and multimedia teams pose questions about the world around them. I’ve watched them laugh, cry and feel everything in between while digesting life’s crazy events, our school’s unique characters and their own vulnerabilities as they etch it all into the written record of this paper.
Whoa, this is important. It should look at least a little bit nice.
The work I do is quite different from The Spectrum’s usual product, but it has been my sincere privilege and pleasure to contribute to it. I’m in constant awe of the drive and commitment exhibited by all of my colleagues over the years. The least I can do to honor the consistently stellar writing and reporting I’ve seen is to match my commitment to making it look good.
I’ve grown to love the little budget breakdowns, infographics and social media announcements I put together just as much as the sprawling front-page illustrations and ornate title graphics for some brilliantly-written features. I find myself a week away from graduation wishing for just one more production day and one more dataset to color code.
Besides the obvious perk of having the inside scoop on tomorrow’s news, the most rewarding bits that I’ll take with me forever are the connections I’ve been blessed to make with the exceptionally kind, smart, talented and cheerful souls of The Spectrum. Giving proper thanks to everyone who’s made me smile seems futile, but the best I can do is try.
Looping back to the beginning, thank you, Brent, for hiring me. Straight up, I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you. Thank you for always seeing value in my work and teaching me to do so as well. You set the bar high with your quality of work and shining humanity. I look up to you more than you can imagine.
Thank you, Jess and Matt, for being my mentors. In the single semester we shared, you taught me everything you could about the software and techniques I’d be glued to for the ensuing years. You were always patient and willing to help. You both set a high standard that I strove to match ever since.
Thank you, Justin, for being the living embodiment of positive reinforcement. The work environment you helped cultivate is one of constant support, reassurance and recognition. It’s a high I’ll be chasing for the rest of my professional life.
Thank you, Reilly, for being an exemplary leader. You always handled the trials and challenges (oftentimes unseen to the rest of us) of running a student newspaper with tremendous grace and the best interests of your staff above all else. I think you deserve to play Webkinz whenever you wish, boss.
Thank you, Jiayi, for being so indispensable. I can’t imagine a more creative, talented and hardworking person to share the creative office with. I’ll cherish our chats about galleries, food and holiday traditions and eagerly await the dope art you’ll put out into the world.
Thank you, Jack, Julie, Dan and Moaz, for visiting me in my little cave. It gets lonely being tucked away in the creative office some days and I appreciate everyone who took the time to stop in and chat about anything for a little while.
Thank you, Kara, for covering that arts event with me. Your work is always stellar and writing with you taught me more than I could explain. It makes me wish I’d gotten into writing stories far sooner.
Thank you, Sophie and Jenna, for the laughs we’ve shared. From Bisons games to Oozefest, you two find the fun in everything; keep spreading it to those around you.
Thank you to everyone else I’ve had the privilege of calling a friend: Grant, Anthony, Sai, Sabrina, Kayla S., Kayla E., Alex and Andrew. You are all so special and lovely and I’m thankful for any time we shared together.
Thank you, Emma and Kailo, for continuing the story. I really wish we had more time together. There’s a lot to learn and cherish from The Spectrum, and I can’t wait for you two to find out for yourselves.
Sooner or later, you’ll learn, as everyone does: The Spectrum never stops.
Paolo Blanchi is the creative director and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org