For the past four years, I’ve spent most of my time in the company of stories, whether that be writing and editing articles for the Nexus, reading books or going to the movies. I love recurring themes, how meaning can be extracted from the tiniest of details, the comfort of knowing everything will resolve in the third act.
It’s easy to feel like the main character in your own story when things go according to plan. I’ve enjoyed my fair share of moments that lived up to my expectations of “the college experience,” those magical moments that made me feel like I was doing college right. Cue the memories of devouring Freebirds nachos on a Deltopia afternoon, soaking up the sun outside the Arbor after class and an endless montage of flawless I.V. sunsets.
There were also many moments that made me want to yell, “HEY, this wasn’t in the script!” On an epic scale, there were fires, floods, rogue mountain lions on campus and of course a pandemic. Not to mention the surprises and sudden changes that characterize everyday life.
All this to say: If there’s one thing I’ve learned from serving as the Nexus’ first (and hopefully, last) pandemic editor in chief (EIC), it’s that life rarely conforms to the narratives we feed ourselves.
Leading this newspaper through a year of utter chaos forced me to throw all my plans and preconceptions out the window. In the absence of a blueprint, I had to lean on other people more than I had ever anticipated. Asking for help can be uncomfortable, especially when you feel like you’re supposed to have all the answers. The kindness and encouragement so many have shown me throughout college, particularly this year, is proof that people are always willing to lend a hand — if you can find the courage to ask.
With that in mind, I first want to thank everyone who opened a door for me when I was too afraid to knock. I wish I could say I knew UC Santa Barbara and I were meant to be the second I stepped foot onto its vacation resort of a campus. In truth, my feeling of belonging was hard-won. The first journal entry that didn’t contain the word “transfer” was one I wrote after attending a Nexus party my freshman year. Without people like Laurel, Ali, Zoë, Merk, Hannah, Emma, Brandon, Omar, Emma and Shomik I may never have found my place.
To anyone who feels like they haven’t found theirs yet, I want to say that community can be found in the most unexpected of places. Whether you find it in your freshman year friend group or a random org you decide to try out, I promise that like-minded people are out there. Don’t feel beholden to anyone else’s timeline or conception of what these four years are supposed to look like. There is no “the” college experience, only your college experience.
To my fellow Nexites, who trusted me to virtually lead: thank you. Many of them are well on their way to glorious journalism careers (I’m looking at you Hannah Jackson and Max Abrams!) but there are easier ways to pad your resume than dedicating all of your free time (and un-free time) to this grueling, important and often thankless work. I never fail to be amazed by the meticulous detail and genuine care you all put into this paper. Missing out on your company, the most joyful part of this job, only increases my appreciation for the past three years.
Witnessing Isla Vista and the UCSB community from an insider perspective has been an eye-opening experience. It taught me that you never, ever know what’s going on in someone else’s world. Whether or not you’re in the business of telling other people’s stories, it is essential to be kinder than you may feel and to give people the benefit of the doubt.
The person to whom I owe that lesson is my managing editor, Evelyn Spence. The most unlikely subplot of my time as EIC is the friendship we developed, which went above and beyond the obligations of a work partnership. Thank you, Ev, for restoring my faith in collaboration. I know that Katherine Swartz and Melanie Ziment, respectively the incoming EIC and managing editor, will pick up the mantle perfectly. Nobody is more qualified to lead the Nexus through the transition back to normalcy, or whatever comes next.
It takes a village to run a newspaper, and also to raise the people who run it. I’ve long believed that those who can’t teach, do, and I cannot thank my teachers enough for doing what I never could. Thank you to my family, my first editors and eternal support system; to everyone who has let me pace around a room and talk through my ideas; and to anyone who, knowingly or not, has given me something to write about. Thank you to the Daily Nexus for making me feel seen and heard and for allowing me to find my voice.
Alone together is not an oxymoron. My whole world shrunk to just a few people for almost a year, and I consider them family. Thank you Charli, Tess, Natalie and Sarah for constantly being there for me this year and the three before it.
This year, when I felt overwhelmed by nostalgia or regret about what could have been, I’d take a solo trip to the office just to sit among the hundred-year-old archives, broken cassette players, ancient print issues, forgotten blue books, chalk quotes and polaroids. If you are lucky enough to call the Storke Tower dungeon your home, I recommend that you (respectfully) ransack the place. It feels special to know that you are part of a living history, that beautifully messy patchwork of the stories and people who came before you.
I can’t fret too much about leaving my mark on this place, because I know I leave a piece of myself behind there. With the Nexus, the story never really ends.
Signing off for good,
Editor in Chief 2020-21
A version of this article appeared on p. 3 of the May 20, 2021 print edition of the Daily Nexus.