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Friday, June 21, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

‘Graduate already’

After seven semesters, I’m ready to retire — but boy, will I miss making the donuts with my friends

Well, s—t.

I always intellectually knew that this moment would come. 

In my seven semesters as a Spectrum editor, I’ve watched three rounds of seniors come and go. I’ve read dozens of goodbye columns, posed for photos by the pillars with the graduating seniors, and said my goodbyes (and see you soons) to plenty of friends. 

But now it’s my turn. 

And it’s really sad. 

For as often as I’ve complained about breaking up block quotes, realizing that we don’t have a photo for a story and going home from the office at 3 a.m., I’m really going to miss The Spectrum

I’m going to miss all the inside jokes, all the arguments over how to phrase something, all the group hangouts, all the office decorations, all the massive FOIL requests, and making fun of Faculty Advisor Matt Parrino. 

Saying goodbye is so much harder when you don’t have another year ahead of you. 

That’s not to say I haven’t had a good run. I’ve been here so long that the staff have started joking about my walker, my weekly bingo sessions, my propensity for yelling at clouds and my life during the Great Spectrum Depression. 

During my time here, I’ve covered a pandemic, a mass shooting, a coup halfway around the world, a homicide investigation, elections (student and otherwise), union disputes, more than a few protests (some more eventful than others) and geese

Wow, a lot happened.

It’s a portfolio I couldn’t have dreamed of having as a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed freshman.

Before coming to UB, I’d spent four years working for my high school’s monthly student newspaper. By the end of my senior year, I’d written a couple articles approaching actual news stories and was thinking about a career in journalism. 

But it’s a tough career. Long (and weird) hours, less-than-stellar pay and rounds of job cuts are all common. I wasn’t sure if I could make the cut.

But I decided to give it a shot and join The Spectrum. And I’m so, so glad I did. 

I’m already working a job I wasn’t sure was possible as an 18-year-old: reporter and on-air host for WBFO, the local NPR station. And with any luck, the best is yet to come. 

But The Spectrum gave me much more than a journalism career. It gave me the best mentors and friends I could ever ask for. That’s worth so much more than a job.  

The real news was the friends we made along the way. And on that note:

Ryan — it sure has been a whirlwind running The Spectrum with you. I never thought the kid with the cue ball haircut in ENG 398 would become one of my best friends, but when do things turn out the way we think they will? 

Almost all of my favorite memories from this year’s iteration of The Spectrum involve the two of us laughing. I’m going to miss going insane in the office with you, learning basic sports information from you and grabbing a drink with you after production day, but I can’t wait to visit you at Syracuse — and to see what you do with that JD. Just stay away from open flames, loaded dice and women named Carol. 

Moaz — I have to confess: I had a friend crush on you sophomore year — and then we actually became friends! I never thought we’d end up going to Vegas, riding in the Vice Presidential motorcade or winning an award together, but I’m so glad we did. My only regret is not asking Kamala Harris, “What da dog doin’?”

But in all seriousness, you’re a great photojournalist, an excellent leader and an even better friend. Keep doing what you know is right and what brings you joy. And just remember: It’s never too late to quit engineering and become a photographer.

Anthony — you wrote last year that “some would say we’re an unlikely duo, but I’d like to say that we’re friends for life.” I couldn’t agree more. Maybe that’s what the trauma of doin’ it live week after week does to you, but I’m glad it happened anyway. You were a better EIC — and are a better friend — than you give yourself credit for. I miss you and can’t wait to see you again soon. (By the way, sorry not sorry for all the “s—t music” I used to play on production day.)

Andrew — I always knew you were the only thing keeping the DeCicco-Ashley iteration of The Spectrum going in the fall of 2022, but I needed a year as EIC to really understand just how crucial you were. Thank you for that, but more importantly, thank you for being a great friend. You kept us alive on production day with enough jokes to fill a comedy special, and you’re one of the most dependable people I know. 

Ricardo — watching you rise from staff writer to editor-in-chief made me feel incredibly old, but it also made me incredibly proud. Your quiet, empathetic and steady leadership is exactly what The Spectrum needs. I know you’ll do a great job. Don’t be afraid to lean on your staff (they’re great too) or to reach out if you need help. I can’t wait to see where you take The Spectrum

Xiola — I’m honored to call you my “little sister.” You’re far more prepared to be managing editor than you think. Just trust your gut, don’t be afraid to “do it live,” and remember that this isn’t goodbye, it’s see you later.  

Darcy — you’re my oldest friend on this campus, and I’m so glad I got to spend the last two years of our friendship (partly) in the Spectrum office together. You’re genuine, kind, smart, never afraid to tell me when I’m being an absolute Mimi Imfurst, and a damn good fact-checker. 

Sol — you’re one of the kindest people and most talented reporters I know. Thank you for making writing the news at 2 a.m. fun, for catching me up on all the Livingston and Wyoming County gossip, and for making all those posters. I’ve got to say, seeing my head on six of the seven members of BTS at 3 a.m. really broke my brain. I really hope we wind up in the same newsroom so we can make the donuts together once again. If nothing else, I’m sure we’ll have some more adventures that have nothing to do with newsgathering. 

Matthew — thank you for doing all the paperwork so I didn’t have to. Without you, I think I would’ve actually gotten into my car, driven west and never come back. 

Rachel — every time I hang out with you, I know I’m in for a wild, wild ride. You were such a bright spot in and out of the office, and you never failed to make me smile. Keep doing things your way — for what is a mouse?

Dominick — you’re not only one of the most creative writers at The Spectrum, but one of the most creative people I know. Keep making music and wild feature stories I never would’ve thought of, and I can’t wait to go to one of your shows. 

Jason — I’m so glad you decided to join The Spectrum, even if you didn’t do it as soon as you wish you had. I always looked forward to reading what you’d written, and you were a kind presence in the office. Don’t underestimate yourself. 

Alisha — I can’t thank you enough for — and Anthony and Ryan will be proud of me for this one — the major assist in the proverbial fourth quarter. You made a name for yourself as a great journalist and a great friend in a matter of weeks. I just wish we’d brought you on sooner. 

Mylien, Henry, Sarah, Rodrigo, Evan, Josh and Tenzin — Ryan, Moaz and I were all really worried about the future of The Spectrum last fall. So much of the staff was graduating, and we weren’t sure that there would be enough editors to keep The Spectrum running as well as it is. I couldn’t have asked for a better staff to hand the paper over to. You’re all so kind and so talented, and I know you’ll welcome the newest editors with open arms. I can’t wait to see what you do next. I’m a phone call away if you need anything — Spectrum-related or otherwise. 

Justin — when I joined The Spectrum, we were entirely online, short-staffed and demoralized. You made me feel welcome anyway. I wouldn’t have been able to lead a new generation of Spectrum editors without your one-on-one sessions, story ideas, inspirational baseball videos and edits made me such a better editor. (I also have to apologize to you and Reilly for turning in all my stories at 10 p.m. Just know that I’ve paid it forward with many, many late nights in the office.) 

Matt — let me start by telling you that I don’t actually think you’re (that) old, that you’re not (that) bad at Instagram, and that that headshot of yours doesn’t actually look (that) bad. (Glee is really that terrible though.) Thank you for talking me back from the brink, always taking my phone calls and giving me the advice I needed to succeed. Even with your job, podcast, TV appearances and family of four, you’ve always made time for The Spectrum. I hope to give back to the people and place that got me where I am today as much as you have. (I’m paying for lunch now that I have a real big-boy job, by the way.)

Jody — I might be the last editor who remembers when you were the faculty advisor, but your legacy is still very much a part of what makes The Spectrum what it is. Thank you for putting up with all my anxiety, mediocre writing and freshman-ness. Your lessons and brutally honest critiques made me the journalist I am today (not to mention much better at taking constructive criticism). I hope you’re proud of what we’ve accomplished without you. Let me know if you’re ever in Western New York. I’d love to meet in person now that the pandemic is over. 

Sam — thank you so much for helping Matt run the class when he had no idea what he was doing. I’ve missed having you around, but that makes the days when you make the trip up to Buffalo even more special. 

Andrew Galarneau — thank you for all the story ideas, reporting tips and restaurant recommendations. Your class was one of the only online classes that I looked forward to going to. I can’t wait to see you transform the media market, but in the meantime, I’ll keep reading Four Bites.

Bruce Andriatch — I couldn’t have asked for a kinder, more thoughtful, more knowledgeable professor and editor. Thank you for equipping me to make tough calls at The Spectrum, helping me learn the ropes at the News and for intentionally sending me on man-on-the-street interview assignments. I actually do them willingly now. (Thank you also for being there when the New York State Thruway Authority got really mad at me. I did not have that one on my bingo card for the summer.)

Charles Anzalone — thank you for teaching me how to write. I owe my distaste for the word “however” to you. 

Dr. Healy — it all started at The Trapezoid, and I’ll never forget that. Thank you for all the wisdom, writing tips and tough love. I wouldn’t be where I am without your years of support. I hope to see you soon. (And sorry for painting the office without your permission that one time.) 

To all the Spectrum editors I’ve worked with over the years, but can’t thank individually in the interest of keeping this under book length — you made sticking with The Spectrum worth it, even on the days when the windowless office was really getting to me. I miss you all. Reach out anytime if you feel so inclined. 

And to all the Spectrum editors who’ve yet to join — I’m excited to see what you do here. The sky’s the limit. Always use Times New Roman 12-point font, have fun and don’t hesitate to reach out if you need anything.

That is my statement. Thank you.

Grant Ashley is the now-retired editor-in-chief and can be reached at grant.ashley@ubspectrum.com once he returns from his post-retirement vacation.


GRANT ASHLEY
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Grant Ashley is the editor in chief of The Spectrum. He's also reported for NPR, WBFO, WIVB and The Buffalo News. He enjoys taking long bike rides, baking with his parents’ ingredients and recreating Bob Ross paintings in crayon. He can be found on the platform formerly known as Twitter at @Grantrashley. 

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