An Anteater Departs

During school breaks, I return to my hometown of Fullerton and try to hang out with my close friends from high school. Now, the last time I met with one such friend, he asked me if I thought that I was different at the time compared to myself back during high school. I responded in the affirmative, telling him that I felt that I had grown up emotionally, that I was more accepting of people, and that I had broadened my interests and knowledge of certain subjects.

As I prepare myself for that inevitable walk across the stage next week to bring the curtain down on my undergraduate education, I find myself thinking back to my response to my friend and reflecting upon my four years here at UCI. I then wondered, what should we be doing in college?

Inevitably, I think back to that shy, introverted Korean teenager I was, who set foot in Mesa Court four Septembers ago. He was apprehensive about living away from home for five days a week. He was disappointed that none of his closest friends attended the same university. And he was praying that his roommate wouldn’t turn out to be the oddball that he was visualizing in his head. In essence, he didn’t like the idea of leaving his comfort zone.

But in the following four years, that teenager has come some ways. He went from chickening out of attending weekly Tear-Up meetings for the New University to holding a senior editor position. He went from attempting to make himself invisible in public to putting himself out there. He went from being fearful of people to warmly greeting them and being acquainted with them.

I would say that what we should do in college is to put ourselves out of our comfort zones, to boldly venture to where we thought we would have gone before in order to pursue our interests and further educate ourselves. For those of you who still have some time before you graduate, I encourage you to dare yourself to do more. When the time comes for you to leave UCI, you should leave proud of more than just your diploma — be proud of the memories you made here, of the legacy you’ll leave behind (even if most people won’t notice it).

I would say that I’m proud of my accomplishments and years here. I’ve shed my teenage identity and developed into a young adult. It’s been a rewarding, wonderful maturation process, and yet I’m still growing and learning. But it’s not solely from my own effort; there are plenty of people who have helped me become the man I am now.

The New University. It was here where I became a leader and learned the value of professionalism. It was here where I made perhaps my closest college friends who shared my passions. It was here where I found my Irvine family and home.

To our advisers, Stephanie van Ginkel and Natasha Monnereau, thank you for being so patient with us and always giving us advice. I can only imagine how you helped us achieve so much this year.

To Aaron Echols and Irvin Huang, you two do an incredible job of making sure our tech works smoothly. Thank you for responding to my multiple urgent calls for help over the course of this year.

To James Kim, Vinh Nguyen, Ryan Wallace, Logan Payne, Zach Risinger, Colleen Bromberger, Olivia Phelps, Ian Massey, Aleece Reynaga, Belester Benitez and Doris Kwan, I couldn’t have asked for a more fantastic group of editors to not only work with, but graduate with. I’m proud of you all, and I wish all of you the best.

To the returning editors, I can’t wait to see where the New U goes with you at the helm. To Jessica Pratt, it’s been a honor to have been your Managing Editor. You got another year left, so take a deep breath and take this newspaper to greater heights. To my successor, Ryan Cady, you have already made me proud. What matters to me is that you enjoy your work next year, and I have a strong feeling you’ll do just that. To Sarah Menendez, Taylor Weik, Archel Arindaeng, Joyce Chen and James Yu, I believe in all of you, and I know that you’ll do outstanding jobs.

To David, who will be an RA next year, I can’t think of a better person than you who deserves such a distinguished post.

To our hardworking advertising team, thank you. Stephanie Bai, Mina Choe, Elmore Villaruel and Jake Gavino, all of you are fantastic individuals with bright prospects ahead of you. I hope that you will encounter much fortune in your post-grad endeavors. Aleksis Ancheta, Dae-Sun Yoo, Dina Khourey and Devin Le, I believe the New U bodes well with you all here. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you four.

I admit that I’m slightly nervous of heading into the real world. However, I do believe that my experiences here at UCI have prepared me for it. And so, into the unknown I go. I may not know what exactly lies ahead, but I think that I’ll be alright.