My time with The Cavalier Daily began in the spring of my first year with a grainy photo of Newcomb Theater to complement a life article about weekly movie screenings held by the University Program Council. I remember standing in the dimly lit theater, just down the hall from The Cavalier Daily’s office, fumbling with the manual settings on my camera in an attempt to capture a good photo. “Oh dear,” I thought to myself.
This “oh dear” feeling came up more than I would like to admit in my three and a half years with The Cavalier Daily’s Photo section as a staffer, senior associate and editor.
As a first-year staffer, I eagerly accepted photo requests because it brought me joy to visually represent student journalism at the University and to have a creative outlet as well. I quickly learned that each “oh dear” moment that occurred while completing a photo request of the Women’s Center or Peabody Hall would also be a learning experience that would take me out of my comfort zone. Slowly, I became more comfortable with manual settings such as ISO, aperture and shutter speed while embracing their nuances. “It’ll be okay,” I thought to myself.
And it was. As a second-year senior associate, I not only took on more leadership within the Photo section, but I felt more confident behind my camera and prepared to work through inevitable “oh dear” moments. As I looked through the viewfinder in the fall semester, I saw football games at Scott Stadium and Multicultural Student Center events aimed at increasing diversity in selective schools at the University. In the spring semester, I saw the makings of my first print cover and a basketball game at John Paul Jones Arena as a newly elected photo editor.
Then, the pandemic hit.
I have been on a vulnerable journey with my mental health since the onset of the pandemic two years ago. My ability to fulfill aspects of my role as photo editor was adversely affected by the complexity of my mental health challenges, leaving me feeling disappointed in myself for letting down the brilliant student journalists at the University. But one day, I had an open and honest conversation with two managing board members who reached out to me after noticing changes in my work ethic. After hearing my story, they were not only incredibly understanding but also encouraged me to use the support system around me at the paper to fulfill aspects of my role that I could use an extra hand with. Albeit difficult to admit one's shortcomings, not only did this conversation warm my heart, but it left me feeling incredibly grateful for The Cavalier Daily.
The Cavalier Daily is a group of awe-inspiring students who have encouraged and motivated me to be a better photographer, student and person through their kindness, humor and intelligence.
I may not have been the most talented photographer or savvy with manual camera settings, but I was left in a perpetual state of awe. I was in awe of the writers who report on all aspects of student life — but especially the latest news affecting the University and Charlottesville communities with impeccably written stories. I was in awe of the photographers who capture once-in-a-lifetime moments at sporting, protest and University-wide events to accompany these phenomenal articles. And I was also in awe of the editors and other leadership who come together not just at weekly meetings but also at print night where an immeasurable amount of effort is put into designing the cover and formatting the pages to create the print edition of the paper.
Throughout it all, I have been in admiration of the sheer talent that exists within this leading University paper. I consider myself lucky to have been given the opportunity to have been a part of this community at the University because I will cherish these memories for years to come.
Thank you, The Cavalier Daily.