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Saturday, May 25, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

I took a risk by joining The Spectrum as a freshman — you should too

Sometimes, you just have to take that leap

The neon lawn chairs stared back at me as I walked into the small theater. They stood out against the whitewashed walls that were starting to shed little flecks of paint. 

But it wasn’t the brightly-colored chairs that made me do a double take — it was one of the people sitting in them.

Orientation and welcome weekend is usually a mixed bag. For most people, it’s about making friends you’ll never talk to again after the first two weeks of classes, or navigating the unfamiliar halls of a college campus you’re not even an official student at yet. 

But aside from drowning in my sweat in the Buffalo humidity, orientation was the launchpad for one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. 

That person in the neon chair?

It was The Spectrum’s assistant managing editor, Moaz Elazzazi. 

I went to a “small” high school (at least in the eyes of all you Long Islanders with your 2,000+-person schools). We only had a graduating class of around 200 kids, and around 590 students total. 

As a freshman in that “small” high school, I made a terrible decision: I joined the varsity swim team despite not knowing how to swim. 

I’ll spare you the gruesome details, but know that I somehow made it to the end of the year. I was awful in the water, but the team, and especially the seniors, were supportive. 

Moaz was one of those seniors. Four years had passed since the last time we talked, but I remembered him.  

When he saw me, he immediately recognized me, flashing a smile. The fact that he remembered me was an instant relief after hours of speeches and presentations hours away from home. 

Moaz was one of four students at the panel set to talk about their UB experiences, but it wasn’t until the end of the hour-long session that he mentioned this newspaper. In a shameless self-promotion (one that I’m glad he did, for the record), he said anyone interested in writing for it should see him after the panel.

As someone who wrote for my high school’s newspaper, I felt extra obligated to talk to him afterward. 

I never planned on writing for The Spectrum. I always enjoyed writing, but when I say that I “wrote” for our newspaper, I really just sent them a story or two every month and never felt connected to it. We never planned out our issues or had an office like we do at UB. 

The more Moaz described it to me, the more I wanted to be a part of it — so much so that I continued talking to him and missed being a part of the post-panel class photo outside. 

Considering where I am now, I couldn’t be happier that I missed it. 

Sometimes you have moments where you feel like you’ve come to a crossroads, and you have to leap in one direction or the other. No matter what you choose, you can’t just sit in the middle. 

The day after talking to him, I marched to my counselor’s office without an appointment and signed up for the class associated with the newspaper: ENG 394. I felt at home in my first class and haven’t looked back since. 

Now, at the end of my freshman year, rising from staff writer to assistant editor, I’ve fully accepted UB’s student newspaper as part of my life. I love everything about it, and I would do it all over again the same way. 

In case it wasn’t clear, this is a shameless self-promo, just like the one Moaz gave at the panel. I encourage everyone who asks me about it to write for The Spectrum and to take the ENG 394 class with our faculty advisor, Matt Parrino. Through The Spectrum, I’ve met some of my closest friends here and improved drastically as a writer. 

If you have no interest in writing for us, at least take away this: I believe everything happens for a reason, and sometimes you should follow life to see where it leads you — or else who knows what you missed out on. 

If I never went up to talk to Moaz and never signed up for swimming in ninth grade, I wouldn’t be writing this article. For that reason, thank you, Moaz, for always being approachable and available when people need it. 

Along that same vein, a big thank you to our editor-in-chief and managing editor, Grant and Ryan. Thank you for listening to all my terrible pitches, and for encouraging me to keep writing at the beginning of the year. 

To Evan, Ricardo and Rodrigo, my fellow sports editors: thank you for all the time you’ve spent with me showing me the ropes and covering games with me. I couldn’t be more proud of what our desk has accomplished. 

To Matt, who I’ve learned so much from this year: I don’t know where I’d be if you hadn’t spent the time to go over my writing with me. 

To all the editors and everyone I’ve interacted with at The Spectrum and the behind-the-scenes crew who are always saving us, you have no idea what it means to me to be able to write for this newspaper. Thank you for all the hard work you’ve put in this year. 

To everyone else reading this article, if you’re ever presented with an opportunity, take it and run with it. You never know where it might take you. 

Who knows? Maybe it’ll change your life.

Henry Daley is an assistant sports editor and can be reached at  


Henry Daley is an assistant sports editor at The Spectrum. His work has featured on other platforms such as Medium and Last Word on Sports. Outside of the newspaper, he enjoys running and watching sports (when he’s not writing about them). 



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