1. The paper can be a home for anyone
As a first-year, I was depressed. I had never been away from home for so long, and I wasn’t making friends as easily as everyone else. My dad, who was a sports writer in the late 1980s, suggested I join The Cavalier Daily. Although it was a bit too late to the sign-up, and I could only join the Social Media section, that decision led to years of happiness and friendship. Even though I don’t want to be a journalist or have a career in social media managing, I wouldn’t trade this time for anything. I’ve never felt more at home.
2. How to be a leader, but more importantly, a friend
I held many leadership positions in the paper, and it wasn’t easy, especially when it came to being responsible for other people your age. Sometimes I had to make tough decisions or deal with people that I would rather avoid. Although my time as a leader was full of ups and downs, it also helped me learn just how significant a good friend can be.
3. Not everyone will like you
One scroll through Twitter after a controversial opinion article drops will show you just what people think of the paper. It can be frustrating to be criticized, but I understand how difficult it is to provide media to a community. But despite the haters, my mom still likes my articles, so that’s all that matters.
4. I can be endlessly creative
I wrote a Top 10 article on just about every topic. I wrote articles for President Jim Ryan twice — he still hasn’t replied — as well as Coach Tony Bennett. I shared my most embarrassing stories — also twice. Sometimes I even got a little too creative, like making up new rules for basketball in the midst of March Madness. Perhaps I shouldn’t be allowed to write.
5. The em dash is underappreciated and underused
As I told all new recruits when training them in AP Style, the em dash is the bread and butter of every journalist. It adds a little spice to every piece of writing, and it isn’t as scary as it looks. I admit, I didn’t know how to use the em dash before joining the paper, but now I’ll never look back.
6. U.Va. is a weird place
I still have not gotten over just how strange the University is. We love our founder so much that a secret society had to form to protest the celebration of a slave owner. We have a room on the Range that will never be used again because Edgar Allan Poe slept there for one semester. We even have our own secret language. But will I continue saying things like “When I was a first-year …?” Of course.
7. Journalists deserve the most
Let’s be honest, we were dealt a pretty rotten hand with the Events of August 11 and 12 and then COVID-19 ruining the end of the 2020 school year. But my friends have been there through it all. They reported and published no matter what. Some of my friends still have nightmares to this day about alt-right protestors. The strength it takes to do this job is extraordinary, and I applaud them every day.
8. Time passes in weird ways
The longest nights I’ve ever experienced were putting the print paper together each Wednesday. I would be in the office for about four hours each print night, and no matter how hard I tried, I could not get any schoolwork done. At the same time, my terms on the Junior Board have passed by faster than the blink of an eye. I wish I had taken the time as a first-year to really appreciate what I had and the community I was building.
9. Cats are the best mascots
Those of you that have kept up with my articles through the years know how important my cat is to me and the paper. He became The CavDaily Copycat and made multiple appearances in print — see page 10 of the 2019 Valentine’s Day issue. I would bring him to the office for meetings, and he spread smiles wherever he went. I highly recommend anyone looking for a new mascot give Ancho a try. Contact me for his hourly rates.
10. My friends made it all worth it
The endless amount of friends I made is almost too long to fit, but I will try my best. Thank you Christina Anton, who takes the best cat portraits ever. Thank you Nate Bolon, for aiding me in sneaky escapades. Thank you Jake Lichtenstein, for your overwhelming positivity. Thank you Ben Tobin, for encouraging me and making me feel at home. Thank you Dan Goff, the Moon Daddy to my Earth Mama. Thank you Libby Scully, who was my co-manager for one year and friend for life. Thank you Tim Dodson, who I still have a Snapchat streak with to this day. Thank you Gracie Kreth for taking me on the Arkansas adventure of a lifetime. Thank you Abby Clukey, for late nights and endless laughter. Thank you Kate Granruth, who will forever be my women’s basketball watching partner. Thank you to my best friends — Gabby Fuller, Alexis Gravely and Aaron Rose — who are never getting rid of me at this point.
Ashley Botkin was an Assistant Managing Editor for the 130th term of The Cavalier Daily. Prior to this, she served as social media manager during the 129th and 128th terms.