By Dylan Kaufman
Following the spring 2021 semester, I wanted nothing to do with college. The school experience I’d grown to love bore zero resemblance to its pre-COVID days, and I spent every open-ended assignment finding ways to channel my depressive state into something I could get a passing grade on.
“Divided by a Digital Ocean, Students Seek Hope a Year into Remote Learning” read the title of one article I wrote for a journalism course. It may as well have been a journal entry. Each week I felt more hopeless about the degree I’d eagerly begun and by the time finals came around, I felt about the same as my college experience — a shell of my former self.
It had only been a few weeks into summer, and while the relief of completing the semester was nice, I still felt lost, disillusioned by how higher education now looked to me. I had plans to graduate over the summer, but things went awry and before I knew it, I had another semester to look forward to. Then I heard from John.
He reached out to me through LinkedIn, a platform that at the time, gave me headaches. But John’s message gave me hope for the first time in a while. He asked if I wanted to join The Vanguard as Photo Editor and explained the responsibilities. I was uncertain but figured if he believed in me, and I was going to be returning next semester anyway, why not?
We did a practice issue over the summer to get a sense of our roles, and it was cool, but it wasn’t until mid-semester when we had a Zoom call with a university employee that I began to truly appreciate my experience at The Vanguard as I do now.
It was on an off day, and we all slowly joined the call as we could. As we described what we do to this guy, he started to seem a little puzzled. He couldn’t believe what we’ve been able to accomplish being nearly fully remote. I felt a sense of admiration for my team here, for John and Gabi’s steadfast leadership and organizational skills, and for the communication and dedication each of the editors and writers put in every week to make things come together.
Everybody is a student, most working outside of class too, and somehow this beautiful work of journalism came to be each week. But it wasn’t magic, it was the result of the care, time, and effort put in by each of us (and I’d be remiss not to reiterate the inhumanly impressive contributions of Gabi and John, who I am fully convinced deserve a salary over a stipend).
It was an honor to be a part of The Vanguard. It was, without question, the best thing to come out of this final, unexpected semester of mine. I leave with gratitude, pride, and admiration — for the opportunity, for my peers, and all we’ve accomplished here together.