30: Life&Arts senior reporter leaves basement home for the thrill of a new adventure

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Photo Credit: Gabriel Lopez | Daily Texan Staff

Editor’s note: A 30 column is a chance for departing permanent staff to say farewell and reflect on their time spent in the The Daily Texan. The term comes from the old typesetting mark (-30-) to denote the end of a line.

The second week of my first semester at the University of Texas School of Journalism, I walked into a basement that changed my life forever.

The stairs looked like the scene in any scary movie where the audience yells at the main character, “Don’t go down there,” but, as always, I left common sense behind and chased adventure. Nevertheless, I opened the big, metal door. Instead of finding fear, I found a home.

The first time I heard about The Daily Texan I was 10 years old, on a rainy UT Explore afternoon, when I was handed a flyer as I sought refuge from the rain on my way to the science school. Needless to say, I never found my way there.

On a warm August afternoon almost a decade later, I was ready to join without a clue of what to expect and a shaking fear. But that all went away when Elizabeth came and assured me this was my place, even after my first story turned into a manhunt for sources and an unreadable blur of edits.

Elizabeth, Cat and KT — my first editors, mentors and journalism role models. Thank you for taking a chance on the terrified 18-year-old girl who walked in with dreams of journalism.

The next few semesters, Life&Arts showed me a world of opportunities that reshaped my goals and checked my bucket list a thousand times over. As a senior reporter, each week of 2017 held two new adventures, at least six new friends and more stress than I could have ever imagined.

The Texan allowed me to interview my favorite bands, artists and authors, understand the beautifully weird Austin community through its citizens and celebrate the history and milestones of the University of my dreams. I traveled the world through the eyes of professors and believed in love through the stories of Longhorns in love.

But above all, I found a community — a fellow group of misfit writers that shared the same goals and passions but with entirely different and compelling stories. I was always told it was hard to feel at home at a university with 53,000 people, but I did.

Mae: You made my first stressful semester of senior reporting the most rewarding experience. Thank you for always supporting me.

Morgan: Thank you for always taking my calls, on off days, week days and everything in-between and having patience with this amateur reporter and her late stories.

Daisy: You are the sweetest, kindest editor I could have ever asked for, so thank you.

Justin: Your edits always made my day. I will miss the memes and all the laughs in between.

Peter: Thank you for teaching me to take critiques, learn from my mistakes and become better.

And to all the friends I met along the way, especially my Life&Arts family, thank you for always inspiring me. Collyn, it only took one semester of writing together and a day of you nursing me back to health so I could go to work for our last day of writing together in Belo to feel surreal. Alex, thank you for talking me into applying for Life&Arts that day after FIG, encouraging me through every story and believing in my writing more than me.

Thank you to all of the incredible people that allowed me to tell their stories — my writing would be nothing without your experiences and I do this for you.

At the start of the semester, I had no idea it would be my last. But as my mom once told me, the only permanent thing in life is change. So it’s time for the next terrifying adventure. Through God, I know I won’t find fear, but hope.