To UCI, With Love

From beginning as a Layout intern to becoming Managing Editor, I’ve seen UCI through the eyes of the New University for three years of highs and lows. Though it hasn’t always been a stroll through the park, I’ve loved my time at the New U because it’s given me the opportunity to meet people all over campus, to talk with administrators and student leaders and to learn about everything from budgets to athletics.

The field of journalism is changing. We’re past the days of Woodward and Bernstein. It’s a bleak future for this profession I studied for four years, but I strongly believe that there will always be a place for the written word. I went into journalism because I wanted to tell truths, to write the stories that so often go untold and to hold people accountable – whether it be individuals or society as a whole – for their words and actions.

I won’t say I don’t believe in that anymore, but those reasons were challenged for me this year, and it’s been tough to emerge on the other side of it all. I could wax poetic about all of the lessons I’ve learned, but none of those things would be possible without the people who’ve helped me realize them, and so my farewell is dedicated to those who have shaped my experience at UCI in the most profound and extraordinary ways:

To my Editor-in-Chief and partner in crime, David Gao – We’ve had one hell of a year, haven’t we? In a very short amount of time, you became one of my most trusted friends, and I’m so incredibly blessed to know you. You challenged me in the subtlest of ways and have truly led by example, something that has inspired me to continue to consciously put my best foot forward and act with intention and integrity. You’ve helped me reflect upon my own actions and acknowledge all of the mistakes I made in being too headstrong, too impatient, too impractical, too emotional and too stubborn. I will miss our weekly lunches, our Starbucks runs, our silly G-chats (full of your classic puns!) and our Sunday night exits from the newsroom. But at least we’ll always have WordFeud.

To the 2010-11 section editors, copy editors and layout team – Words cannot begin to describe how grateful I am for the work you’ve put into this year. I have been blessed with the opportunity to spend 31 really long Sundays with you all, and it feels strange that this is now the end. Your support during the most difficult times has made this job worthwhile. Whether I’ve known you for four years, two years or just this one, I count you all as dear friends and am grateful for the opportunity to have worked with you, even when you were stealing my pens. Also, to our writers, photographers and artists: thank you for your contributions! And a special shout-out to next year’s Managing Editor, the lovely Miss Amanda Robbins — Kick ass and take names, Charmandar!

To Stephanie Van Ginkel and Natasha Monnereau, the people whose offices are my sanctuary — Your wisdom and guidance this year has been the glue that held the New U together, and I wouldn’t have been able to complete this year as Managing Editor without your help.

More work-related salutes of appreciation: to Irvin Huang, my knight in sustainable armor, for keeping our production running smoothly; to the Advertising team, for their hard work that keeps our paper funded; and to Aaron Echols, for not yelling at me when I accidentally delete things that cause the website or computers to stop functioning.

To the faculty of the literary journalism department — The unique and diverse professors that fill the LJ department incite a passion for journalism I never expected to find and I will always be grateful for this amazing program here at UCI. A special thank you to Barry Siegel, Amy DePaul, Amy Wilentz, Jesse Katz, Henry Weinstein and Miles Corwin for your advice and words of encouragement this year.

To everyone in the Dean’s Office at the Claire Trevor School of the Arts — Thank you for giving me a home for four years and teaching me the skills to enter the workforce with precision, patience and efficiency, especially to my wonderful boss, Lesly Martin, and my amazing office buddy/mystery-solving friend/fellow printer hater, Christina Weber.

A salute to my LJ/Pub-going comrades of past and present, for your endless support, unconditional love and borderline alcoholism (especially to Jason and Ravind, for their incredible strength that carried me through the winter); to the friends I’ve made during my time at UCI, thank you for the coffee dates, late-night talks and life advice; and to Dave, for every moment since our first conversation and for changing my life in ways I may never be able to articulate.

And last, but not least, to our readers — Whether you’ve loved, hated, criticized, praised or mocked us, it is with humility and gratitude that I tip my hat to you for picking up our paper (or reading us online!) from week to week — even if it was just for the Lollicup coupons.

A wise and wonderful person once told me to “embrace the absurd,” and that’s my advice to you all, too: look down that open road and run toward the unknown. After all, you may never get the chance to live like this again. It’ll be scary and it’ll be weird, but you never know who or what you will find. I took that risk when I arrived at UCI, and I’m leaving it with four years of amazing experiences under my belt; now, I’m ready for more.

So long, UCI, and thanks for all the fish.

Traci Garling Lee is a fourth-year literary journalism and global cultures double major. She can be reached at leetg@uci.edu.