The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

PARTING SHOT: Embracing my journeys

Ankit Agrawal was the Operations Manager for the 132nd and 131st terms and the Production Editor for the 130th term of The Cavalier Daily. Prior to this, he was a Copy Staffer and a Production Staffer for the 129th term

<p>In my journey on The Cavalier Daily and in my journey of self-acceptance as a queer person of color, the more I embraced each, the more I felt at home in both.</p>

In my journey on The Cavalier Daily and in my journey of self-acceptance as a queer person of color, the more I embraced each, the more I felt at home in both.

619 hours. To be honest, that number is probably a bit of an underestimate. It’s hard trying to quantify how much time I spent on The Cavalier Daily over the past four years. A few hours went into Sunday night copy shifts, watching students swipe in and out of the office as I waited to fact-check articles. Others were spent rushing to put together a print edition of the paper at 1:55 AM. And even more were spent in weekly meetings, either with fellow Junior Board or Managing Board members, or just in the office waiting to see who would swing by. But no matter how I used those hours, 100 percent of them were spent learning how to bring my full self into wherever I go.

Anyone who knows me knows I spent the majority of my first year in the basement of Newcomb Hall. That basement is home to The Cavalier Daily office and is the former home of the Multicultural Student Center and the LGBTQ Center. It was in all these spaces where I began a four-year journey — not only one of professional and academic growth — but also of personal growth.

In my journey on The Cavalier Daily and in my journey of self-acceptance as a queer person of color, the more I embraced each, the more I felt at home in both. Each time I swiped into the The Cavalier Daily office for a spot on the couches, I was unlocking the world of collegiate journalism — helping out with article reviews and page layouts, overhearing conversations of the stories-to-come and hot topics of coverage for the week and understanding what it meant to give to something bigger than myself. Right across the hall, every opportunity I had to stop by the MSC or LGBTQ Center, I was getting one step closer to finding the key to understanding my own identity. Over time, more and more strangers in these spaces began transforming into friends with whom my relationship would extend beyond the confines of Newcomb’s low-ceiling basement.

And through these sources of community, I finally began to recognize these journeys not as parallels, but rather as converging stories of growth. It started by coming to the office wearing one of the QC’s “Love Is…” campaign t-shirts. Then by creating an informal private Slack channel, #QueerDaily, in our online workspace with a few other LGBTQ+-identifying staff members. Later by raising my hand in brainstorming meetings to share what events were happening from Multicultural Student Services. In retrospect, these actions may not seem like much, but seeing my confidence grow was like a microcosm of the increasing strength I felt in bringing my full self to the paper and being authentically who I am.

As the semesters passed and I went from spending a few hours on The Cavalier Daily to multiple days each week as a Managing Board member, I soon realized that being fully who I am was not only a privilege, but also a responsibility. Having been involved in student journalism since my freshman year of high school, I’ve come to learn how the diversity of stories we tell is, in part, shaped by those that have a seat at the table in the newsroom. By not drawing on my experiences as a queer person of color, I would be doing a disservice to those whose stories and experiences deserved to be heard. Both through my connection to other editors on the paper and through my own efforts to create content — such as a video I made in the summer of 2020 on the intersection of LGBTQ+ identities and the Black Lives Matter movement — I could use my position to make an impact across the paper.

And as much as I hoped to make an impact on the paper, I could not begin to describe how much the paper did the same for me. Learning how to navigate my identity in the workplace occurred at the same time as I learned the ins-and-outs of how to produce a paper, how to manage digital platforms with tens of thousands of followers, how to lead a team and so much more. This development eventually expanded into other parts of my life, manifesting in projects like a podcast about my identity that first-year me would have never thought was possible.

Now, as I reflect on my time on the paper and count the days until I’m tossing my graduation cap on the Lawn, I can confidently say that those shifts on the The Cavalier Daily couches, those late nights in the office, and the many other memories that originate from Newcomb’s basement have brought some of the greatest joy in my journey through U.Va. To put it simply, I would not have spent those 619 hours any other way, and I truly can’t envision what my time at the University would have been like without The Cavalier Daily — a community from which I’ve found some of my closest friends, and from which I’ve finally found myself.

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