Standing on the bridge leading away from the not-yet-opened Student Center, I snapped a picture on my phone of HIB and Humanities Hall. I was an incoming freshman, preparing to leave mini-SPOP, and I remember thinking to myself, “Well, this is my home for the next four years.” I didn’t know at that time how deeply rich that statement would be, or how many more thousands of words that picture could say now that I am a graduating senior.
In a very literal sense, the Humanities really did depict my home — as an English major and Spanish minor, I took the majority of my classes there, quickly familiarizing myself with the cracks and crevices of Humanities Hall. But what I found there wasn’t what I expected — though I came into UC Irvine with a declared major and wasted no time straight-shooting the path to complete it, most of my growth didn’t occur on the path at all. It was in the cracks and crevices that I learned the most about who I am, what the world is and what I can be in that world.
English majors are taught to search for life in everything, to awaken hope and passion out of paper. But what I’ve discovered in my four years of trained life-searching is that, in the process, we end up finding ourselves. I think that my progression through the English degree paralleled my soul search through college as a whole, and the things that I learned in the classroom were only heightened by the infinitely more expansive things that I learned from the people around it. This column is my last publication in the New University, and it is dedicated to those people, because their impressions on me far surpass the bounds of a camera-phone picture.
To the Edge Ministry: All I can really say is that you guys truly saved my life. You found me when I was hiding, you pushed me when I was comfortable and, even in those places where a person becomes their most raw, true self, you loved me. Community at its purest, God knew what he was doing.
To Echo Run: I had no idea when I moved into VDC with you guys almost three years ago that I would be living with my soul mates for the rest of my college career. We’ve definitely developed our own language over the years that only we can understand, shaped in part by the countless all-nighters, the “full hearts, empty wallets” shopping trips and the various (successful?) cooking experiments. I’ve gotten so used to our way of life and our family dynamic that I can’t imagine coming home without you all in the next room, available whenever I need you. But I know that the Echo Run family is something uniquely ours, and the life that I learned here will remain with me wherever I go.
And of course, to the New University staff: I never knew how desperately thirsty I was to release all of my English nerdy-ness until you guys provided that outlet. We share a lot of the same sentiments when it comes to the arts or literature, and I love how we can giggle together about commas and kittens when many people would not. There’s this extraordinarily refreshing feeling when ideas and passions resonate with each other, and I feel like this happens every time I’m in the newsroom. You guys may be some of the most obnoxiously first-world, crude, apolitically correct people I know, but you’re also among some of the funniest, brightest and inspiring. Thanks for the headaches and the gut-wrenching laughs. Special note to the future Copy Editors: Keep your heads up. Copy editing is one of the most difficult and sometimes frustrating jobs because you have to read every article, but it is also one of the most rewarding jobs because you get to read every article. Love you, babies.
With two more weeks left until graduation, I was reminded of something that J.R.R. Tolkien wrote: “It’s a dangerous business … going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” So here’s to those last two weeks, to that ever-elusive road and to how freaking excited I am to discover the cracks along the way.
Traci Louie is a fourth-year English major. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.