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Monday, June 24, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

Seize your opportunity and run with it

Being editor-in-chief was always a terrifying thought, but it became the crowning achievement of my time at UB

I want to make one thing clear: Heading into this year, I never wanted this job.

Don’t get me wrong, I love The Spectrum

I’ve been here since my freshman year, and this place helped me find my passion on campus.

I was the sports editor for three years, and I was more than content with keeping that position.

But when last year’s seniors were set to graduate — namely former editor-in-chief Reilly Mullen and former managing editor Justin Weiss — two people had to step up and fill those shoes.

I was the longest-tenured returning member of the staff, and my initial response to the idea of becoming editor-in-chief? 

Hell no.

Why would I want to give up going to games and covering sports to edit stories about art galleries and SA Senate meetings?

I’m a sports writer, not whatever the hell this position wants me to be.

But after some convincing from people on the staff, I decided to run for editor-in-chief. I wasn’t even sure if I really wanted to win. All of the added responsibilities and increased workload were terrifying for a kid who wrote about football and basketball for the past three years.

Running for this position was a leap of faith, and I didn’t think I was ready for it.

But after a year of running this newspaper, it’s safe to say taking this job was one of the best decisions of my life.

As much fun as I had attending March Madness and interviewing future NFL players, being editor-in-chief has been the most fun I’ve ever had at The Spectrum.

But like most things in my life, it didn’t come easy. 

In the beginning, I tried to be something I wasn’t. I was uptight, intimidated and scared of messing up. I would come home from the office and cry my eyes out because I felt I was a disappointment to those who came before me. I didn’t think I was capable of doing the job. I was tortured by my lack of confidence.

But then I learned that people just wanted me for who I was.

I leaned on my managing editor Grant Ashley and my assistant managing editor Andrew Lauricella for support, and ENG 394 instructor Matt Parrino for guidance. I was able to discover my identity as a leader: the same goofy and passionate sports nerd that I always was.

I learned to manage a group of over 25 editors and 30 staff writers in my own way. Was it the right way? I’m not sure. But it was kind of like Gary Sheffield’s swing or Shawn Marrion’s jumper — unconventional, but effective. 

I was like a kid learning to swim in the deep end of the pool. The beginning was scary (and involved some crying), but by the end, I was having a blast.

If there’s anything that I want people to take away from this column, it’s that I earned this incredible experience through hard work and taking a chance.

I joined The Spectrum as an insecure freshman, and that alone was a risk for me. What would my friends think? What if I’m not a good enough writer? What if nobody at the newspaper likes me? Is it even worth it? 

I didn’t know if I loved journalism, but I loved sports, so I stuck with it. I covered as many basketball games as I could. I didn’t care if it was a Friday night tip-off or a Sunday during the NFL season: if there was an opening to write a game recap, I was there.

I worked my way up the totem pole and became a sports editor, which was my biggest accomplishment in life up to that point. I continued to stick with it, and with the help of former Spectrum faculty advisor Jody Biehl, even got a national journalism award out of it.

I never had the most talent (and I still don’t), but nobody was going to outwork me.

Now, as I look back at the last four years of my life, I can’t help but be thankful to those who helped me on my journey through The Spectrum.

Brent, you were the first person I ever met at The Spectrum. Thank you for taking a chance on a nerdy freshman who didn’t know what to do with himself. Your kindness has inspired me to be the person I am today. 

Jacklyn, thank you for teaching me what accountability is. I knew deadlines had to be met because you were up waiting for my story to be done.

Reilly, you showed me the way. You never shied away from who you were, and the staff benefitted from that. The lessons you taught me shaped the way I led this staff.

Justin, I don’t know where to even begin. You are the reason I fell in love with The Spectrum. You were there from the start, and you made me excited to come into the office. You brought the best out of me, as well as everybody else you worked with. I’ll always look forward to our weekly texts about sports or whatever else we have going on in our lives.

Hunter, Kayla Sterner and Sophie, you three gave me such joy. It was so incredible to watch you all grow and become great sports writers.

Kyle, you are the best storyteller I have ever encountered. Continue to blow people away with your talent and ability to share the human experience like nobody else.

Paul, you are the coolest person ever. Your calming presence made me so comfortable, no matter the situation. Kayla Estrada, your enthusiasm is one-of-a-kind. Be that inspiration you are capable of being. 

Alex Falter, thanks for all the hip-hop debates and the good vibes. I’ll never forget you. Jack, I can’t wait to share a can of RC Cola with you again. You are an incredible person and it makes me so happy to see you following your passions.

Kara, thank you for being you. You’ve worn a couple of different hats at The Spectrum, but your exuberant personality has never changed. Good luck in Spain and in the future. I’m so happy I found someone who shared my affinity for McDonald’s and Taco Bell. Every time I drink a Diet Coke (which frankly won’t be very often), I’ll think of you.

Meret and Alex Novak, you are two of the most talented writers I’ve ever worked with. Meret, without you, we wouldn’t have had an arts desk. Your vibes radiate throughout the office, and you know how to make people smile. Alex, thank you for making me laugh constantly — whether it be through conversation or your writing. I can’t wait to see what you do next year.

A.J., thanks for always staying late on production day and being my buddy for the midnight ride home. I look forward to seeing you become the mayor of Buffalo one day, blaring Kendrick Lamar as you take the podium. 

Jasmin, you might be the sweetest person in the history of the world. Continue to cover the small businesses on campus and the other stories that would slip through the cracks if it weren’t for you.

Jade and John, you both have such bright futures ahead of you. Build off the legacy that Moaz and so many others created to document the history of this university.

Moaz, you are just the G.O.A.T. I’ve never met somebody so willing to help out. I can’t help but smile every time I’m with you. You could quite possibly go down as the most talented photographer in the history of The Spectrum. The fact that you might even be a better person than a photographer says everything anybody needs to know about you. You are going to be an incredible assistant managing editor.

Jake, I’m so happy we stumbled upon you in the Spectrum class. We quite literally wouldn’t be able to print a weekly paper — or make any income — without you. It’s been great getting to know you and I can’t wait to surprise you at one of your standup sets.

Tenzin and Darcy, thank you for cleaning up our mess-ups each week. You are both incredible people, as well as two of the best-dressed members of the staff. You are both gems.

Amy, watching you grow as a writer and person has been one of my crowning achievements at The Spectrum. Your work ethic and compassion continue to amaze me. We’ve come a long way from your one-on-one editing sessions, and I’ll value our friendship forever.

Katie, thank you for handling Amy. But I also want to thank you for the person you are. Your sense of humor and funny voices make you a hit in the office, but you’re seriously one of the most improved members of the staff. You’re gonna kill it with the Bee Group.

Brandon and Hayden, I look forward to reading your incredible sports coverage. You two have already improved so much, but your potential is limitless. 

Ryan, good luck dealing with Grant next year. In all seriousness, you are meant to be a managing editor. When we had our first one-on-one meeting, you blew me away. You are an incredible writer and one of the funniest people I know. Know that you have all the tools necessary to succeed in your future role.

Victoria and Kiana, you two have come so far in such a short time. The news desk is what makes The Spectrum, and you guys covered some of the biggest events in the history of this campus. But it wasn’t only the big stuff, you two were reliable. You never hesitated to cover a breaking news story or head to an SA Senate meeting. Both of you have incredibly bright futures. Focus on being the great people you are and believing in yourselves, you’ll end up where you want to be.

Dylan, you bring the vibes in the office up 1000%. Thank you for being patient with us in your transition from staff writer, to sports editor, to opinion editor. You are a Swiss army knife.

Emma, like Jake, you are an unsung hero. There also wouldn’t be a newspaper without you. From late-night Mighty Taco orders to putting up with Grant’s awful music taste on production day, I’m so happy The Spectrum’s windowless office brought us together. You are the reason our newspaper looked so incredible, and we couldn’t have pulled this off without you.

Lauren and Sam, thank you for continuing to believe in the journalism we’re producing here. It means the world when alumni like you stick around and help future generations. Sam, I hope one day we can watch a Knicks championship parade together.

Matt, thank you for being my mentor. Thank you for allowing me to be your intern, for listening to my 1 a.m. Spectrum-induced rants and for helping me with job interviews. You’re always there for whatever I need, and — despite my constant thoughts of self-doubt — you gave me the confidence I needed to run this operation. 

And finally, Andrew and Grant, thank you for always having my back. If it weren’t for you two, I don’t think I’d be writing this column right now. You both inspire me to be better, and you helped me become more secure with myself. We did it live, and the memories I made with you two will last a lifetime.

Grant, you are the most talented reporter I’ve ever worked with. You pushed me to become a better editor and journalist, and I can’t thank you enough for that. You’re also a great friend. Some would say we’re an unlikely duo, but I’d like to say that we’re friends for life. You are going to be one of the best editor-in-chiefs this publication has ever seen.

Andrew, you are quite possibly the hardest worker I’ve ever met. You don’t even want a career in journalism, but you treated The Spectrum like your own baby. Thanks for being a friend I can depend on through thick or thin. You are going to be incredibly successful, and I can’t imagine doing this without you.

The people I listed are the reason I became editor-in-chief, either because they helped me get to this position, or because they let me love my job.

I’ve never been the most talented journalist. But I never had to be.

My journey through The Spectrum is a tale of hard work and seizing the opportunity, even if you aren’t ready for it.

This newspaper provided me with the tools I’ll need to succeed in life, but it also provided me with friendships that will last a lifetime.

My biggest piece of advice to anybody presented with an opportunity: just show up and open that door.

Because if you don’t, you’ll never know what memories could be made on the other side.

Anthony DeCicco is the Editor-in-Chief and can be reached at 

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Anthony DeCicco is the Editor-in-Chief of The Spectrum. His words have appeared in outlets such as SLAM Magazine In 2020, he was awarded First Prize for Sports Column Writing at the Society of Professional Journalists' Region 1 Mark of Excellence Awards. In his free time, he can be found watching ‘90s Knicks games and reading NFL Mock Drafts at 3 a.m. 



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