I still remember the weekend back in May of my freshman year when I was still sports photo editor. I was sitting in front of my beloved Photoshop, tirelessly working on columnist headshot cutouts. I was told that this was for the farewell columns. “Hmmm, seniors. Sounds like in forever.”

And now I’m one of them.

It feels equally hard now to try putting myself into my freshman mindset at the beginning of my college career. When I joined The Daily Pennsylvanian four years ago, my reasoning was simple: I love photography, and taking photos for the DP means I get to work with some cool people and my work will be everywhere on campus. I joined as a photographer, then ran to be sports photo editor after Ellen approached me and asked whether I was interested, and a bit unexpectedly, I won.

I was not the best editor in my first few weeks. The time commitment was suffocating, and I constantly felt frustrated with how little I knew about campus sports compared to the awesome team of sports editors. There were doubts and stress, but I received a lot of help and understanding. I know that there is a stubbornness in me in that I never give up on things I deem worthwhile. We managed to turn things around to the right track, and before I knew it, the DP had become an essential part of my life.

Strongly encouraged by the journalistic spirit floating around 4015 Walnut, around the end of my time on the 128th Board I started writing as a general assignments reporter. Having declared my computer science major in addition to PPE, I later became a technology beat to embrace my passion in the technology sector and met some truly inspiring people in the eye-opening tech scene. Four years. From photo to beat reporter, from production to the Blue Room, from being mentored to mentoring, from liberal arts to tech, my experience in the DP came so hand in hand with my college life and my intellectual exploration that I could not have become who I am without it.

I am often amazed by the seeming randomness from which comes some of our most important life opportunities. We may or may not have had a story planned out, but either way, life often does not take our plan. It goes at its own pace, throws at you opportunities whose importance you did not understand at the time, gives you good and bad surprises, yet always works out in its own way.

Have we changed through college? Yes and no. We transformed from the freshmen nervously speaking up in the first meeting to veterans who can write an article in a snap or can remember the number of each player, where his or her photo is in the archive, and what camera setting works the best for an evening game. We know more or less what we want or do not want to do with our lives , or which part of the world we want to be in. Yet deep inside, we are still the people we were before. We still remember each other’s accomplishments and inside jokes, and true friendships never go away when our friends need us.

So in the end, what is the DP? To me, the DP is all those evenings running back and forth between 40th Street and the Palestra, all the meetings and crunching in the Large and the Small, all the champagne and pizza and wings, all the cheers and tears, and all those lovely people who took that road with me.

To Ellen and Justin: We are the best photo board ever! I cannot explain how much I have learned from you. Thank you for everything.

To Megan, Mike, Alyssa and Sushaan: Thank you for putting up with my slow learning curve on sports and helping me navigate PennAthletics! Those, and that couch in Sports.

To Christine, Dan, Matt and other people who shared my Pandora Disney station in Production: I can still hear all the laughter we had in production! Thank you for always having my back, and if you ever get into Game of Thrones, let me know.

To Sarah, Harry and Glenn: It was such a pleasure working with you and I owe you the world for helping me write better and learn what journalism truly means. There is so much in Penn that I would not have been able to see if not for working as a reporter!

To Connie, Amanda, Luke, Carolyn, Yolanda, Sam, Irina and many others in the Photo department: Photo Love <3 I am so proud of you!

We still have no idea what is waiting for us in the long years ahead, but we know we will survive and thrive. Until next time, Daily Pennsylvanian.

JING RAN is a College senior from China. She is a former sports photo editor, staff reporter and photographer. Her email address is ranjing0216@gmail.com. 

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