Coming into college, I was absolutely terrified. I was coming from a high school of 1,118 students, a fraction of UB’s more than 30,000.
It was intimidating, but I adjusted. I came in as an undecided major and ultimately settled on a bachelor of arts in psychology.
Then, just as I started to adapt to college life, COVID-19 hit. I spent the second half of my freshman year and my entire sophomore year online at home in Cornwall, New York.
Over that year and a half, I became a bit of a shell of a human. I wasn’t used to interacting with people like I did pre-pandemic.
My anxiety spiked again. I didn’t realize the toll the pandemic took on me until about halfway through my junior year. I was sick and tired of feeling this anxious dread before doing simple tasks — going out with friends, going to classes, etc. I became scarily accustomed to being alone and isolated with my own thoughts.
I’m not going to blame the pandemic entirely for my unclear career path, but it did make me think I had more time to figure out my plans post-college. I knew what I was interested in, but I couldn’t quite hone in on what I wanted to do up until a couple of months ago.
One of my classes junior year, Fundamentals of Journalism, led me to interview Kayla Estrada, the then-news editor for The Spectrum.
That interview changed everything for me.
She told me all about The Spectrum, and I was sold. I added the Journalism Certificate Program to my studies, which led me to intern with The Spectrum for a year.
Although I joined late, I am forever grateful that I did.
The prospect of interviewing random people petrified my post-COVID-19 self. But I told myself I needed to do it to grow. And besides, I’ve always loved writing, ever since I was a child. I’ve kept multitudes of journals throughout the years with stickers plastered all over the covers.
So why not try this out?
The pursuit of these stories led me to learn about the different pockets of UB’s community. The people I’ve met and the events I’ve covered quickly became the highlights of my college experience — from walking around campus with “accordion guy” as he plays to watching people battling robots for six hours.
I was fortunate enough to have the guidance of Matt, Anthony, Grant and Andrew. Thank you for being so supportive throughout this time and helping me navigate journalism. You all truly inspire me with your wonderful work and your unwavering dedication to the job.
And thank you to Amy for being there for me and reassuring me during this scary, yet exciting transition into the “real world.” I am eternally grateful for the “interview an editor” assignment that led to our friendship. I’ve only known you for nine months, but it feels like we’re old friends.
As I’ve been preparing for graduation and my entrance into the “real world,” I’ve also been dreading leaving the Spectrum crew. I love how each and every person brings something different to the table. The environment we have created as a team this past year has been something quite special.
I’m trying to think of this as a “see you later” instead of a goodbye.
These past couple of months have been particularly difficult. The thoughts of not being ready to graduate and being ready to move onto the next chapter of my life have been in contention every day.
The uncertainty is overwhelming. I was terrified that I would be stumped post-graduation, unable to find something in the ever-changing field of journalism.
Can I really do this? Am I cut out for this? I love to write, but am I even good enough?
These thoughts have been bombarding me for weeks.
Fortunately, I’ve recently secured a position as a full-time reporter.
I’m looking forward to this new adventure and the uncertainty is fading, but the anxiety still remains.
Thank you again to Matt for encouraging me to pursue my passions with unequivocal support.
The Spectrum has truly broken me out of my shell. This experience is something I will hold close to my heart for the rest of my life.
I’ve become more confident in myself and my abilities. I am more able to genuinely and fully appreciate everything I bring to the table — something that seemed impossible two years ago.
I’ve learned to embrace criticism and feedback with open arms instead of anxiously avoiding it. Now, I constantly ask myself what I can do to improve, learn and gain more experience.
I have learned to be OK with imperfection and have come to view it as an opportunity to grow instead of as a negative trait.
Thank you to The Spectrum for helping me see this in myself.
I will miss you all. I will miss the hectic production days in the office with everyone scrambling around to put the paper together. I will (surprisingly) miss staying up late after an event to write coverage — rapidly bouncing ideas off each other with our eyes straining at our computers.
I am so proud of everyone’s work this past year, and I cannot wait to see all of the amazing things you guys accomplish next year.
Thank you to The Spectrum for always supporting me and helping me further find myself. I know I’ve only been on this staff for a year, but it is a year I will never forget.
Katie Skoog is a features editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org