The Final Payoff Pitch: I Love You All

How does one adequately condense four years into 1,000 words? How do you capture the salient without missing out on the hilariously uncouth? It’s been one heck of a ride as Editor-in-Chief of the New University this year; here are some parting thoughts.

Challenge your comfort zone, but stay true to yourself. The greatest thing about being an Anteater is all the different opportunities that are available to students. I’ve learned that sometimes you just have to take the plunge, even if you think you aren’t ready. You’ll learn along the way. At the same time, childhood passions and ambitions shouldn’t be abandoned. On the contrary, college can be the perfect time to take them to new heights, fully developing whatever it is that energizes you, that makes you happy, that makes you feel at home.

Invest in UCI, and it will invest back in you. For those students who float through their college career without joining anything, simply going to their classes and going home — you’re missing out. I know it’s old hat to proclaim that you learn more from the organizations and people interactions than you do from classes, but it’s so true. Years down the line, I will cherish my accomplishments outside of the classroom so much more.

To Da Ambalamps, the 122, thank you guys for everything. I will never forget our improbable Squids run. To Mwen and Yeebs, thank you guys for sticking with me since Day One. It has been a blessing beyond paltry words in this limited space to see how all of us have grown and matured and become men in these four years. I don’t know where I’d be without you guys.

To Scrappy McScrapsters, Sandlot, Big Boppas, VDCN-Gao and all of those that I have had the pleasure of playing ARC intramural softball with, thank you for teaching me to persevere. I will never forget our 0-4 regular season and 4-0 playoff run. Reliving the childhood magic of nine friends on a baseball diamond sharing some good old fashioned camaraderie will never get old.

To the Edge, all of my small groups, worship team, 126, BWAM LA and Boise, thank you for giving me a loving community. Thank you for reading my articles even when you weren’t interested in the topic, for being a smiling face when I looked melancholy, even if it was unintentional. But more than that, thank you for caring and embracing communitas. Special shoutouts to Mike Koo, Michael Fukuda and Matt Cheah. I love you all.

To the literary journalism department here at UCI, you all have been a real godsend. I never forget how lucky I am to have stumbled into this one-of-a-kind program here at UCI. Thank you for making me feel like more than just a number. Amy Depaul, Barry Siegel, Miles Corwin, Erika Hayasaki, Amy Wilentz and Henry Weinstein, thank you for teaching me the priceless value of telling a story and telling it well.

To UCI Athletics, and especially the men’s basketball team, thank you for allowing me to live and die with you guys. I always told everyone who would listen that being an ’Eaters fan was like following that up-and-coming indie band that maybe didn’t have the chart toppers but had a special spot in your heart, instead. Everyone can be a USC or UCLA fan; but you’re an elite and select company when you’re in the Anteater Den.

Without being Sports Editor last year, I would not be where I am today. Thanks to Bob Olson, Fumi Kimura and Stacey Shackleford for being a gracious media relations team. Thanks to Coach Turner, Coach Juniper and the rest of the leaders of UCI athletics for being class acts. Special thanks to Coach Speraw — your innovation and holistic approach is inspirational. Thanks to Tyler Davis for giving me the chance to write my first sports story in the New U on Darren Fells even though I was a mere freshman. Thanks to Andrew Melkonian for being the trustiest and most dependable associate one could ask for, and big ups to Emmanuel Martinez and Ian Massey for taking over the reins and making an old sports editor proud.

Last but not least, it’s hard to believe that it’s already time to pass the proverbial baton on to my successor as Editor-in-Chief, Gregory Yee. It hasn’t been the easiest ride this year, and I don’t pretend for one second that I was the perfect leader, but I can look back at this year and smile. I can leave the New U knowing the editorial board of 2010-2011 tried our best to inform the UCI community accurately, fairly and to the best of our abilities. For this, I am most grateful to my fellow editors, but also to all the writers, artists and photographers who did their part in making this puzzle click together and this machine churn forward. Cheers to Natasha Monnereau and the lovely advertising team, for without all your efforts, this paper would not exist.

Special props to my partner in crime, Traci Garling Lee, for always being supportive and doing so much more than what is listed in the job description. I’m glad that we both know that the Cleveland newspaper is called the Plain Dealer and also the value of doing things for posterity sake. Years down the line, I know we’ll be able to flip open the bound archives of this year and take pride in our 31 issues.

Alas, room is running short in this column, and it is darn near impossible to include everyone that I owe a great deal of gratitude toward.

I realize that this farewell probably comes off as overly happy and optimistic. This is not to say that every single thing that happened at UCI was the greatest. But I choose to go forward holding on to that which worked, while entrusting the future generations to improve what didn’t. I will leave UCI with friendships and memories that will carry on long after I stop traipsing along Ring Road, and that’s all one can really ask for.

Godspeed UCI, may you live long and prosper. Zot Zot.

David Gao is a fourth-year literary journalism major. He can be reached at