The first time I entered the Daily Nexus office, I was overwhelmed. Our little Storke Tower basement is by no means an uncluttered space. There are photos, quote sheets, chalkings, beer bottles, cardboard cutouts of Anchorman, inflatable aliens, unwashed blankets and broken electronic devices strewn about. 

Mark Alfred / Daily Nexus

Journalists usually learn how to work in chaos. After all, our jobs demand that we bring order and clarity to the news happening all around us. But, those of us who work at the Nexus have the gift of learning and working in a chaotic office that carries almost 100 years of history, legacy and lore. 

I consider journalists to be chroniclers of history, but who remembers the writer behind the news? Who records and preserves the history of the college journalists who are willing to leave a party on a Friday night because breaking news had to be attended to? 

We do. Every random item that clutters our space carries a memory, a story — some that even predate me, some with outlandish origins that are passed from editor to editor. Our time at the Nexus may be finite, but our memories and our work occupy a state of permanence in that office. 

As the winner of the 2021-22 Nexus award for “Basically Lives in the Office,” I can tell you that soon enough, the office felt less overwhelming and more a provider of strength. Every piece of clutter served as an important reminder of the great journalists who came before us and struggled with the same issues we contend with today. Every memento I contributed served as a reminder that my editorial staff and I carried and preserved our history, our legacy and our lore within those four neon green and blue walls. With the utmost gratitude, I can say that I found my purpose and my people in that dingy, leaking, horribly painted basement office. 

Serving as the 2022-23 editor-in-chief of the Daily Nexus has been the greatest honor of my 21 years of life. I joined the Nexus my freshman year to test myself, to see if I had the resilience, gumption and eloquence to be a good journalist. It wasn’t long before I realized what a foolish notion that was. There is no formula of characteristics that comprise a good journalist — just one very important ingredient: community. 

A good journalist makes every effort to understand their community and serve their community. We are tasked with upholding honesty and transparency, platforming local issues and giving a voice to every member of the communities we report for. 

A good journalist also relies on their community of colleagues to cover issues through multiple mediums, asks for support and advice and derives strength through camaraderie and solidarity. The point I’m driving at is every article and every paper we put out has a crew of writers and editors behind it. Our work and our accomplishments are a team effort — and I am damn proud of my team. 

The 2022-23 Daily Nexus Editorial Staff was composed of some of the most talented writers and journalists I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. Every single person brought new perspectives and ideas that continually elevated the quality of our content. 

All of our dedication, leadership and talent led us to win seven awards at this year’s California Collegiate Media Awards: first place for best infographic, first place for best news series, second place for best editorial, second place for best photo series, third place for best newspaper column, third place for best feature story and third place for best newspaper. 

Pictured above: Daniela Gomez, Toni Shindler-Ruberg, Olive Howden, Atmika Iyer, Emily Kocis, Zoë Lo, Holly Rusch and Mark Alfred. Nisha Malley / Daily Nexus

The Daily Nexus has no formal advisor and — in comparison to many California college newspapers — very little funding. Despite those disadvantages, we are a scrappy and committed team, and we brought home third place for best newspaper for the first time since the ‘90s. All I can say is that I’m blessed to have been surrounded by innovative and honest story-tellers who value community the way any good journalist should. 

My time at the Nexus has largely been defined by the laughter, the raw conversations and the adventures I’ve had with my community of journalists. I will forever cherish being carried on Zoë Lo’s shoulders into the hole in the ceiling of our dark room — just to see what’s going on in there — while shrieking out of fear; I will always remember belting “My Best Friend’s Brother” with everyone at our fall quarter karaoke night. 

Asumi Shuda / Daily Nexus

Our experiences and memories bring me great joy, but the friendships and community I was lucky enough to have are what I will take away from my tenure. 

No matter the severity of the challenges we’ve faced together, Holly Rusch, I have always found strength from your compassion, resilience and wit. I cannot condense my love for and gratitude toward you into a singular graph; what I can do is tell you that you will forever occupy the intersection of love and admiration in my heart. Thank you for your companionship, your honesty and your fierce loyalty. Most of all, thank you for making me feel loved and supported through the chaos that occupies our lives. 

When print nights were rough, when emotionally taxing stories compelled some of our bleakest moments, Sindhu Ananthavel and Asumi Shuda, the laughter and hope you provided created an encouraging and empowering environment to shed powerlessness and embrace the task at hand. When your friends are your colleagues, rising together to meet the demands of any given challenge becomes a simple task. Thank you for your wonderful senses of humor and the warm arms with which you embraced me. I can only hope I have been as instrumental a support system to the two of you as you have been for me. 

I have never felt as celebrated and appreciated as I do when I’m with you, Daniela Gomez and Devanshi Tomar. The joy and love I share with the two of you grounds me and reminds me that the world will not stop spinning simply because we forgot to delete an oxford comma. Thank you for reminding me to drink water and take a walk in the middle of a seven-hour shift. I am a better person for having you both in my life. 

Nisha Malley and Mark Alfred, the two of you continuously inspire me to be a better editor and a better journalist. Nisha, I have learned a lot from your inquisitive and meticulous approach to writing and editing every single article, and I’m a better writer for it. I hold your opinion in high regard — personally and professionally. I am so grateful to call you a friend and colleague. Though I would never say it to your face, Mark, every single investigative piece you wrote astounded me. I greatly admire the lengths to which you are willing to go to find every piece of the puzzle. Thank you for the persistence and determination you brought to this newspaper. 

The moment you first walked into the Nexus office as an incoming freshman, Alex Levin, I knew you were going to do great things at this paper. Your talent is beyond your years, and you inspire great confidence for the future of student-journalism at this paper. Thank you for the uplifting energy and thoughtful efforts you bring to every print night. 

Jorge Mercado and Evelyn Spence, your guidance and support helped me refine my values as a journalist. I stand here as a far more mature and confident leader in journalism than I began as a result of both of your advice and perspectives. I will always look up to the two of you for the invaluable insight you provide and the high bar of journalistic quality and integrity you uphold.

Emily Kocis, I never cease to appreciate our partnership. You spotted the corners of the mat, and consistently looked to take things off my plate. I hope you know how much I appreciate your attentiveness, the grace you provided me and your ability to handle my incessant phone calls of paranoia. I could not have asked for a better managing editor. 

I have the utmost faith in you, Pricila Flores, to take this paper to new heights. Your positive attitude and firm leadership are two strengths I greatly admire. I’ve relied on you greatly for advice and support throughout this year, and confidently hand the reins of this paper knowing you will lead the charge thoughtfully and with great integrity. 

The first article I ever wrote for the Nexus was an opinion article called, “Roll Call Racism: The Power In Pronunciation” where I unpacked how I would enforce the proper pronunciation of my name in my new college space. The Daily Nexus was the first space I felt confident enough to demand my name be pronounced accurately. It was the first place the people around me respected me enough to try. I leave this paper a more confident and mature person and journalist, and I will always have the Daily Nexus to thank for that. 

To the 2023-24 Daily Nexus editorial staff, and every journalist that finds a home in our cluttered and chaotic office thereafter, please look at our walls and know you stand on the shoulders of giants, but most of all, give them hell.

Atmika Iyer
Atmika Iyer (she/her/hers) is the Daily Nexus editor in chief for the 2022-23 school year. Previously, Iyer was the County News and co-Lead News Editor for the 2021-22 school year. She's a lover of loud music, loud laughs and loud prints.