Editor’s note: A 30 column is a chance for departing permanent staff to say farewell and reflect on their time spent in The Daily Texan’s basement office. The term comes from the old typesetting mark (-30-) to denote the end of a line.
I couldn’t tell you about the first time I walked into a college class, but I distinctly remember walking into the HSM building in the fall of 2012. I didn’t know how to get to the Daily Texan office, was too scared to ask anyone how to get there and left the building quickly, blushing all the while.
I tried again the next spring, and finally found the office — and was immediately scared once more, seeing only strangers talking to one another with a confidence I still lacked. Before I could run away again, though, an editor pounced on me and asked what department I was interested in. I managed to squeak out “photo” — and I’m so glad I did.
Being a part of the photo department was a gift. It brought me out of my shell, forcing me to experience Austin and find wild art (...kind of), all while introducing me to the best photographers I’ve ever known. Sure, you’ll always have people more self-serving than others, but at its core, the photo department sought to make everyone a better photographer — and that, it did.
I ran across football fields, fought my way through photo pits at concerts and toured the UT System plane. I drove halfway across the U.S. to talk about boys and life and cover a shutout football game against Kansas one fall season, then spent the night in O’Hare the next fall after the Longhorns lost terribly to open the season against Notre Dame. I went to more events in honor of Republicans running for office than I’ll go to for the rest of my life. Many highlights of my college career were spent with a camera around my neck, and I’m grateful for the literal thousands of frames I have to document them.
In being an editor, though, I’ve had the honor of watching photographers flourish and seeing reporters write powerful, important stories. This semester was a challenge from start to finish, but at the end of the day, the Texan was always there for me. No matter how stressed I was, no matter what classes were going wrong, no matter what I was worried about — the basement was always there, terrible fluorescent lighting and all.
Within it, I found people full of love and intelligence, people who have taught me more than I thought college ever would. I found a lot of conflict, and messed up more times than my perfectionist self could ever imagine, but the Texan was always there to bandage me up, and let me know that the next day — or some day in the future — would be kinder, and pushed me to do better all the while.
There were several moments this semester where I thought giving up on everything would be the best option. The Texan never accepted that, and always made me put myself in order so I could face the next day.
Working at The Daily Texan is a gift I didn’t deserve. I told myself I’d leave after literally every semester, but found myself hanging on — and I won’t regret that, ever. I’m so grateful for every second I spent in this office, and I’m blessed to have met so many wonderful people.