It was a day during our first week as editors. My fellow news editor turned to me and said, “You know we’re going to see the best and worst of each other this year, right?”
That we did. In our 40-plus hours a week together at The Daily Pennsylvanian and countless more on email, I saw my peers write phenomenal stories, celebrate birthdays and produce papers we were all proud of. I also saw them cry behind closed doors, miss important deadlines and carry that I-have-to-start-my-10-page-paper-at-2a.m. despair in their eyes.
But that’s what’s so awesome about it — we had people we could show our best and worst selves to. I was fortunate enough to find those people during my two years as a DP editor. I may have taken them for granted at the time, but those bleary-eyed, blurry 4 a.m. conversations about journalism, about Penn, about our fears were the best of times.
We swiveled around on those soot-and grease-coated red desk chairs. When guilt over the undone 10-page paper crept up, we dismissed that growing pit in our stomachs and chose to revel in each other’s company. Our eyes started to burn from soaking in too much fluorescent lighting. We wondered if it would be gross to heat up the leftover pizza.
Having to put out a daily paper and manage a website seven days a week brings people together. That we were all in it together and collectively screwed for upcoming exams eased our stress. That we were willing to give so much of ourselves to this organization pushed us to work even harder. Put aside the occasional disputes and passive aggression, the DP somehow cultivated a common purpose and a common understanding in us. We didn’t want to let each other down.
Of the memorable stories and projects I was involved in, I remember working with the people more than the outcome itself: a photographer and I running to the scene of a UPennAlert; all of our eyes hastily proofreading the Election Day issue, scrambling to make the printing press deadline; five or six of us huddling over one laptop frantically praying the website we coded from scratch would scroll (it didn’t).
It was the paper and theDP.com that made me proud every morning; it was the people who made it so memorable. Despite my own frustration at times, working with my fellow editors and reporters at the DP made my four years at Penn worth it.
I hope every student graduating this weekend was able to find these people in their niches at Penn. I hope we will continue to meet these people in our new communities. To be able to truly open yourself up to another person is a privilege, and whether we graduate with a high-paying banking job or with a ton of student debt, we should consider ourselves lucky.
I want to thank my parents and grandparents for further privileging me by endowing me with an education and the opportunity to pursue my dreams. Mom and Dad, you came to America with only two small suitcases and look at where you are now. You are the hardest working people I know, and that inspires me every day. I hope I can continue to make you proud.
To my friends, inside and outside the DP, who saw the best and worst of me these four years, thanks for letting me share my stories and telling me yours. To Mike, thanks for showing me by example how to be a selfless and loving person (aka, a homo sapiens with a full-sized aortic pump), and for editing just about everything I write these days, including this. To my editors and mentors, thanks for teaching me how to write and reason.
Unlike many people, it seems, Penn wasn’t my first-choice college and it wasn’t everything I hoped it would be. That would be too perfect. But I did some pretty cool things and met some pretty meaningful people, and I’m happy with that.
Julie Xie is a College senior from Boston, Mass. and a former (online) managing editor and city news editor of the DP. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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