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Credit: Gillian Diebold , Isabel Liang

If COVID-19 taught us anything, it's that things change in an instant. In the fall of 2019, I ran for The Daily Pennsylvanian’s 136th Board of Editors and Managers, feeling ready to give my all to the company and neatly wrap up my last year at the DP. It didn’t work out — and to those familiar with the situation, that could not be more of an understatement. But this isn’t really a story about that at all. It’s about change, for better or worse.

Something unique about The Daily Pennsylvanian is working with, leading, and electing your peers. Getting a phone call at 4:30 a.m. telling you that you just weren’t good enough is never an easy thing. I thought I lost a lot of friends seemingly overnight and definitely felt alienated from everything and everyone.

I thought elections had changed everything, and that now I was a junior with one-and-a-half years left and needed to somehow find a new group at Penn. I never got very far into that exploration as we soon got sent back to our childhood bedrooms for what turned out to be the rest of my college career.

Time has given me the space to realize most of that loss was in my head, that those friends I lost are still here more than ever. I didn’t really find myself until I had to at Penn, and I don’t think there was ever one instance where I really did, just a series of happy mistakes that ended up taking me four years. 

I didn’t find myself at the DP, really, until I thought I was no longer welcome. Having time to take a step back from the night-to-night grind of production in the design department helped me reflect on how important those specific connections are to me. Despite all the higher-level drama, Design stayed constant. Despite the pandemic, Design stayed constant.

Design at the DP has given me more than I could ever give it, even in just two years as editor. It’s given me some of my best friends, my weirdest friends, a disgusting couch, and more late nights than any college kid should endure. I’m grateful someone allowed me into the department even though I had never used a design program beforehand. It is my greatest pride and joy to see and feel the friendships formed in the chaos of the 135th Board continue, and I am so happy to have been a part of that. 

In the fall of 2019, I thought my DP career was over. Then, I thought I might never get back to Penn to see my friends because of the pandemic. Things change in an instant, but what matters most to me now are the memories and friendships made in Design, in Street, and at 2 a.m. on a production night.

GILLIAN DIEBOLD is a graduating College senior studying Communications and Political Science from Haverford, Pa. She served as Senior Design Editor on the 135th Board of Editors and Managers and previously held positions as Design Editor on the 134th Board and 34th Street Magazine’s Audience Engagement Director.