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Thank yous, shout-outs and goodbyes

WELL THIS is it. This is the last time that I will be enlightening the University community with my insightful prose and the last time that I will be writing an opinion column for The Cavalier Daily.

It is still sinking in that four years have gone by since I wrote my first piece on a computer requirement for first-year students, but those four years have taught me more than I ever could have imagined. Most of all, the University community for which I wrote taught me many important things and for that I would like to say thank you.

I wouldn't truly be a columnist if I didn't have readers. I could put my words in print each week, but if none of you read them, they would not mean a thing, not even to me. What I remember most about being a columnist is not what I wrote, but how the community reacted to it.

It was amazing to get response from across the country when I argued that drug offenses in college should be grounds for loss of financial aid - it's not every day that a girl gets letters and even a phone call from the Pike's Peak Hemp Association! I will always remember the letters and e-mails from sports fans when I wrote about the tragic end to golfer Payne Stewart. And I'll never be afraid to tell someone they aren't doing the best they can, even though I got less than cordial letters from the Fourth-Year Class Trustees when I called them out this year. Good and bad, the response from the University and surrounding communities have let me know that what I was doing was necessary and was having an effect on people's lives.

Related Links

  • Erin Perucci's columnist Web page
  • I know that just writing these pieces has had a profound effect on my life as well. I started writing opinion columns in high school, mainly because telling people what I thought was easier to do on paper than in person. I was shy back then, believe it or not, and never would have guessed that I would find my niche in the world of editorials. I had a great mentor, however, and he made sure that I never was afraid to say something about which I felt passionate. He was the one that gave me the courage to make the jump from saying that stuff to 1,500 people every three weeks to 10,000 people once a week.

    Since I made that leap four years ago, I feel that through my opinions and others' opinions about mine, I have been able to take a closer look at myself and what I believe in. I cringe when I think about some of the things about which I used to write, but know that writing those words was all part of my journey to who I am now. I hope for some of you, reading my opinions and those of other columnists have been part of your journey.

    As a columnist, I hope that I have aided in creating an open dialogue at the University. We all, students, faculty and administrators, have done great things and things that were utterly deplorable. Both ends of the spectrum need to be discussed. They need to be praised and sometimes harshly criticized.

    There have been so many great issues during my time at the University and there will be new ones when I leave, but it is important that the most important never are forgotten. Honor must be reformed and brought into the 21st century. Preserving diversity in our academic community is of utmost importance. The University's highest honor, living on the Lawn, must be examined and made fair. These are just a few of the myriad issues that the University must resolve in order to better the community as a whole.

    And that's what I am going to miss. Getting the chance once a week to make the University community a better place as an undergraduate student. I still will have a connection with the University. as an alumna, but it won't be the same. I will miss giving myself wholeheartedly to an organization that I truly believe is the hardest working and most efficient group on Grounds. I will miss hate mail and nights that are so late, but so fun. I will miss seeing my name (and this year my picture - I never was a fan of columnist pics) each week and the feeling I got from having my friends, sorority sisters and even kids I had never met say, "Hey, I read your column!"

    So, again, thank you. Thank you to all those who took the time to read each week. Thanks to all those who took even more time to write back. Thank you to all those who made my time at The Cavalier Daily so fun. Thanks U.Va.

    (Erin Perucci's column appeared Mondays in The Cavalier Daily. She was a 2000-2001 opinion editor and 2001-2002 assistant managing editor. She can be reached at eperucci@cavalierdaily.com.)

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