ALTHOUGH this may seem like a faux pas for a graduation issue dedicated to reliving wonderful memories and experiences at the University, I cannot help but look back to my first year in Charlottesville and remember how much I wanted to transfer. That's right, as graduation is now upon us, I have to remember how I spent the better part of my first year silently plotting and planning ways to escape from the University of Virginia.
It's not that I did not enjoy the academic courses I was taking, the many activities in which I was involved, or the fun and amazing times I spent with the many diverse friends I made throughout my "first-year experience," but something inside me kept saying that I did not exactly fit in at U.Va. This feeling never quite made sense, but as first year went on, I felt more and more like I didn't belong in a small town, and that the somewhat homogenous environment at the University was somehow stifling me. A part of me felt like I was missing something in the outside world. In retrospect it all seems kind of amusing - but honestly it is the truth, for some conglomeration of reasons I was ready to leave.
At first I tried remedying the situation, becoming involved in a fraternity, a variety of clubs, making tons of friends and acquaintances, and even engaging in various romantic relationships, all in an endeavor to make the University feel the way I thought it should. I simply tried to impose upon the school a vision of the place I wanted it to be.
Of course my temporary remedies did not succeed, and I continued to plan my transfer until I discovered something that changed everything. It wasn't a bang realization, but more of a gradual process where I came to realize that I couldn't impose a vision of my ideal collegiate experience on the University - and that what I needed was a place where I felt attached, where I felt that I was really a part of U.Va. and that my contributions really mattered. For me, the place I discovered was The Cavalier Daily.
I don't mean for this to sound trite, and that everyone needs to become heavily involved in a University organization, or to even find a place "where everybody knows your name" to enjoy university life. But what I have discovered during these four years is that one of the keys to finding happiness and success in college is finding a certain place, a place where you matter and feel like your efforts are truly important.
This theme of "place" is really something that unifies almost all of us. We can have our classes, our friends and our parties, but part of what helped to make most of our experiences at U.Va. so amazing was that we found a place. Whether it was in a fraternity or sorority, a club, an honor society, an intramural sport, or even a residence hall council - those of us that were lucky enough found a place where we could escape the rigors of university life to explore our interests and talents.
For me, this place was The Cavalier Daily. I cannot say that the only reason I decided not to transfer was a result of my involvement with The Cavalier Daily, because my friends and other activities certainly had strong influences. But somehow this newspaper provided me with a place where I felt grounded, where week after week, and semester after semester I found myself returning - taking on responsibility upon responsibility until any former thoughts of leaving the University just vanished. Somehow the people at the paper, combined with my love of the job of editing and writing, helped create this niche for me - this place that satisfied whatever it was I felt was lacking from my college experience.
But of course it is not only the place itself that makes an organization or an activity so special - it is the people that are involved - people who deserve both my thanks and praise before I leave the University. First, to Sharon Bradley for creating the wonderful atmosphere in the "basement," and embodying the legacy of this paper's history. Then to Elizabeth Williams, Nancy Youssef, Robin Pinnel, Tom Yergeau and Mandy Biles for pushing me forward and encouraging my efforts to excel. Next to Emily Kane, Sonia Karim, Mike Greenwald, Masha Herbst and Dan Cooper - I thank you for involving me in such an amazing team, and for providing such an exceptional atmosphere for the continued success of this organization. Lastly, to Tom Bednar, Lindsay Wise, Michael Gillespie, Nicola White, Ed Hock and Aditi Vaish - we all started together at the University, and you have remained passionate and committed to this paper, and you have truly taken it to new levels through your dedication. And to all of the underclass staff with whom I've worked - keep on doing such a fantastic job and always strive to excel.
Finally, I must also remember that The Cavalier Daily was not the only aspect of my University experience that was amazing, and I must also thank individual professors and teachers who have made my time at the University so special. To Jennifer Wicke, Fred Diehl, Stephen Cushman, Michael Levenson, Sydney Blair, Marion Rust, Cynthia Wall, Leonard Berlanstein, Jennie Donnellon and Eric Lott - teachers like you are the backbone of this school, and your amazing talents and wonderful support have been greatly appreciated. And in closing, I must also thank Justin Valentine, Holly Suter and Jeff Darrah - the remarkable friends with whom I know I will always have a place.
(D.J. Moore was a 1999-2000 assistant managing editor and a 1998-1999 copy editor.)