To the Sum of These Parts, Thank You for Making Me Whole

Previously published by The Campus

In the least sociopathic way possible, I have several notecards with scribbled thoughts and unfinished theories displayed around my room. In fact, I considered equipping my walls with chalkboard paint and sleeping with chalk next to me for those pitch ideas that are fleeting but vital. In lieu of this desire, I utilize the notes on my phone – 859 and growing!

You have likely found yourself on this page for one of two reasons:

  1. You know me, hey, good to see you – I genuinely appreciate you and if I have not said it within the last 72 hours, you’re just the bees knees.
  2. You made it this far! I am astounded by your patience and dedication. We worked hard on this and I hope you dig it.

Either way, thank you for taking the time to read a little about me. I cannot promise brevity – but what I lack in conciseness, I make up in excitement.

Although I have written dozens of articles for this publication, essays that exceed the word limit by a LOT for classes, and a poetry book that I published 12 copies of to look pretty on my bookshelf, describing the impact these past three years have had on me leaves me nearly speechless. Since moving to New York City on August 14, 2016 from Arizona, I have been blessed to experience things I would have never deemed probable, let alone possible.

Thanks be to God, I am graduating a year early with a 3.9 GPA, double majoring in international studies and sociology with a minor in journalism, while being honored among those considered for valedictorian. I end this semester having received the Beatrice and L. Richard Guylay Class of 1934 Prize for outstanding service and leadership to The Campus newsmagazine and in celebration of journalistic abilities, as well as the Cedric J. Robinson Award for Outstanding Work in Service of Global Social Justice. I was also able to work as a Resident Assistant at The Towers at CCNY last year. The dorms served as my first home here and the people who checked in on me at hour nine writing in the lounges became my New York family.

Because of professors who never fail to write me last minute letters of recommendation, I interned with the New York Public Interest Research Group, a special election campaign, and both MSNBC’s Weekend News team and their All In with Chris Hayes crew. Additionally, I freelance published with the New York Times Magazine and Women 2.0, reporting on love in the five boroughs and women breaking through the glass ceiling, respectively. Looking forward, in the Fall I will be attending the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism to pursue my M.A. in International Journalism.

Yet, do not be mistaken, I moved with next to no idea what the heck I was doing.

Starting off officially as an English major and unofficially super undeclared, all I knew was that I wanted to write. I needed to communicate and delineate and theorize and challenge and, luckily, I was met with open arms who valued my indecisiveness and saw it as passion. I eventually remembered taking a quiz that I overlooked in my senior economics class. It was infamously “So, what do you want to do with your life?” season in High School and we took one of those placement career tests.

Comically, my three top choices were wildly underpaid and competitive. While most of them seemed boring, mainly centered around sitting at a desk, journalism stuck in my head. I knew I had to write, but I do not really jive with fiction. I like talking to people, but I’m a little too unsteady to be a therapist. In this logic, I found what would become my living, my breathing, and my future.

After officially deciding that I want to be a foreign correspondent journalist (YAY!), I became utterly obsessed with global culture and communication. In my wholly biased opinion, I can not imagine a more exciting life than problematizing the way I think about the world and actually going to places with painted assumptions to hear from the source.

Put simply, there is no better place than City College to do just that – be challenged and hear from a community that transcends borders.

In my Immigration and Refugee Movements class, immigrants to my left and right shared their story. In my Language and Power class, students spoke in their mother tongue. In my Reporting and Writing class, aspiring journalists discussed how their home countries are portrayed on the news. The vulnerability and strength found in these classrooms has irreparably shifted the fabric of how I walk through this world. I deeply respect my peers propensity to both create a space where I felt comfortable sharing my lived experiences and where they participated recklessly themselves.

Tied with these moments, the greatest honor of my undergraduate life has been to serve as Editor in Chief of the thing you hold in your hands. I started off at the magazine as a staff writer, raising my hand to write anything that was needed. In my second year, I worked as the news editor for the first semester, then transitioned to managing editor when Anthony Viola took the helm as EIC. Anthony, who you’ll find on the next page, encouraged me to join the team in the first place. I am forever indebted to his friendship, example, and support.

This year, I stepped into the position as EIC and have been impacted more than these pages can contain. Since August, we have published around 240 articles, with 130 of those being online – a number more than doubling the previous years’ digital presence. My staff has worked long hours and stretched to the very edges of this campus to report on those who truly represent this institution. These feats, of course, would not be possible without my beautifully talented and ambitious staff, as well as those who allow us to tell their stories across campus.

I want to specifically give a huge shoutout to my managing editor, my right hand, Aurora Soriano, and my art director, Loretta Violante, the mastermind behind our beautiful issues. Both of these incredible individuals have went with my crazy ideas, always making the final product nuanced and thoughtful. To my staff as a whole, thank you for showing up, day in and day out. Your work has made real waves on and off this campus, and I hope you know your efforts are seen and prized.

To the people a part of the CCNY and Harlem communities that I have been lucky enough to interview, my work inseparably depends on you and your transparency. In my time at The Campus, I interviewed women claiming their seat at the table, muslims mourning the loss of their brothers and sisters in faith who passed during the New Zealand shooting, President Boudreau describing his hopes and dreams for this college, adjuncts struggling to survive while working multiple jobs, alumni efforting to bring back hockey to CCNY after decades away, a hijabi fencer breaking stereotypes, along with what feels like City’s 16,000 other students. Thank you.

I am already nostalgic for late nights in The Campus office – a room that has acted as my concert hall, bedroom, cry space, kitchen, and everything in-between. I will miss its holedwalls and mice-ridden carpets, but I know the next EIC Celia Tsampas and her staff will hold down the fort.

*Deep breathe* I would be remiss if I did not thank a few more people before peacing out.

Thank you to my God, who grants me peace in my storms of life. Thank you to my mom, who taught me that it is okay if the painting on the wall is not perfectly straight. Thank you to my dad, who lets me be weak and makes me feel strong. Thank you to my sister, my person, who being away from is harder than writing a 15-pager in one night. Thank you to my brother, who gave me a precedent for breaching to the unknown. Thank you to my stepmom, who understands her evil redheaded stepdaughter without me saying a word. Thank you to my stepdad, who shows me how to live with a kind heart and open ears. Thank you to my friends, who bring me back down to earth and back into the oddest situations I’m lucky enough to experience. Thank you to Professor Villarosa, who took a chance on me approximately 48,294,710 times. Thank you to Professor Nevins Taylor, who emailed me every opportunity in the tri-state area, and some more beyond that. Thank you to Professor Muir, who introduced me to literature I now casually bring up in conversation. Thank you to every adjunct, who chose to give above and beyond how much they are appreciated. Thank you to NYPIRG, who threw me into New York politics and opened my eyes. Thank you to NBC, who allowed me to work amongst giants. Thank you to City College, who welcomed me even though I “don’t pronounce things the right way for a New Yorker.” Thank you to you, the reader, who challenges me to be better every day.

See – I told you I’m a wordy gal.

Let me end with this, in my article with Boudreau earlier in this issue, he told me “people that graduated from this place [should] feel like, ‘I’m marked indelibly with the mission of City College.’”

I can say with the utmost confidence that who I am after this journey at CCNY is bound to this university’s mantra: “Respice, Adspice, Prospice,” or “Look Back, Look At, Look Ahead.” For at my core, as I move my tassel today, I am nothing but the compilation of those before, beside, and after me.

Design by Loretta Violante