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Credit: Isabel Liang , Ana Glassman

A few weeks ago, I was recruited by a friend to help film a video for his class. The topic? Positive takeaways from the past year.

On first thought, finding those positive takeaways might not be that easy. We’re 14 months into a pandemic, we’ve had to deal with online classes and periods of social isolation, and my fellow seniors and I have had to adapt to a rocky final year at Penn. But behind all the negatives, there are silver linings.

Each of these statements can be thought of either as an obstacle in our path or what we’ve surpassed to get to where we are today. When our world changed forever in March of last year, nobody expected to still be bearing the brunt of pandemic fatigue. But here we are, chugging along, as unstoppable as ever.

Maybe it’s because I was raised to always look at the glass half-full, or maybe it’s because I tend to appreciate what I have rather than what I don’t. But what we had is a year no other senior class in history has had before.

Take my time at The Daily Pennsylvanian as an example. I came into 2020 anxious but energized to co-lead the sports department during a year of so much possibility. Our men’s and women’s basketball teams were challenging for Ivy League titles, the lacrosse teams had their eyes on national title runs, and our talented football team would wrap up the year in style.

But all that came screeching to a halt just two months into my term. In the matter of a week, classes were moved online, students were sent home, and sports were canceled with no set return date. We lost our avenue of coverage, and it felt like the hope and vision I had spent years building was crashing down around me.

We may have been down, but we were certainly not out. In true DPOSTM fashion, the department kicked back into high gear in the summer and fall, doubling our staff even with virtual recruitment and finding a way to publish impactful stories that still grabbed readers’ attention.

Don’t even get me started on the people. To my fellow DPOSTMites, thank you for coming through when Landau and I needed you. When everything fell apart last spring, I had no clue how we would pick up the pieces and continue as a functioning department. But, despite the challenges of remote writing, interviewing, and editing, I’m so proud of how we were able to recover as one big team.

Photo provided by author. 

To my fellow members of the 135th and 136th Board of Editors and Managers, we finally made it. It wasn’t always easy, it wasn’t always pretty, and it wasn’t always smooth, but at the end of the day, we came together because we cared about each other. And although the work was time-consuming, there’s something special about seeing the final print product that made the struggle all worth it.

The DP was where I met some of my closest friends, both in and out of sports, as we bonded over late-night pizza, awards show watch parties, and balancing our rigorous academics with our full-time editing schedule, even over Zoom.

But if there’s anything the last year taught me, it’s that flexibility is crucial in any team operation. You never know what curveballs life will throw your way, not the least being an ongoing worldwide disaster, but it’s how you react and respond that matters.

DPOSTM came back stronger than ever, including our most recent Kamin Cup victory — our fourth in a row — in a fierce kickball game against the rest of the company.

However, sometimes the beauty in how life unfolds can only be seen by looking back. When I arrived back home last March, I was surprised to learn my grandma would be staying with us for a while. 

Grandma’s habit of watching religious programs at full volume and sharing the same funny stories from her long life certainly made the months in quarantine memorable for my parents, my sisters, and myself. But only after she passed away last month could I truly appreciate the extra time we got to spend together. I’ll always be grateful for those valuable moments I never would have had in a normal year.

When you think about the last year, you might be overwhelmed by the mass of difficulties jumping out at first. But when you look for things to celebrate — learning something new, spending more time with your loved ones, finishing your exams — you’ll find there are more gems than you thought.

WILL DiGRANDE is a graduating College senior from Warren, N.J. studying political science. He served as a sports editor on The Daily Pennsylvanian’s 135th and 136th Board of Editors and Managers and was previously a sports associate editor and sports reporter.