I’m going to tell you the story that I tell every interviewer when they ask me to tell them about myself.
I’m a storyteller and always have been. My mother read me stories growing up, and she never let me say my day was simply “good,” I had to tell her a story. Later, I experimented with visual storytelling, and by high school I was known as “the camera girl” — you could find me at any and all school events with a camera in hand. By the time I got to college, I had the idea, as many others do, that I had to reinvent myself. I didn’t want to be the camera girl anymore. But I soon realized how unhappy I was, so I joined one thing in my first semester, and that was The Cavalier Daily.
I had been desperate to join The Cavalier Daily. I wrote the photo editor at the time and somehow ended up accidentally breaking into the office in the Newcomb Hall basement to take a photo of that infamous trifold that we use at all of our activities fairs.
Thanks to the photo editors at the time, Emma Klein and Riley Walsh, I found myself on the field of Scott Stadium. I’d called the football stadium at my high school home, and soon enough, Scott would be too. That day, I raced back to my dorm after learning to use one of our massive 300mm lenses for the first time and stayed up all night editing my photos. As I sat in my lofted bed with nothing but the fairy lights along the wall and computer screen lighting up my face, I knew this was what I wanted to be doing.
I love repeating this to every interviewer because it tells them about my passion, but also reminds me when I got my spark — through The Cavalier Daily.
The Cavalier Daily was a blessing in disguise. It allowed me access to the field, court, and press conferences. You could find me on the field of Scott or the court of John Paul Jones on any given day. The basement of Newcomb, JPJ, Scott and Klöckner Stadium also became my homes. And quicker than I realized, the people of The Cavalier Daily became my family.
I never thought that telling my mom stories in the backseat of her car driving home from kindergarten would lead to an entire career, from my high school yearbook classroom, to The Cavalier Daily office in the basement of Newcomb, which ultimately turned into the studios of ESPN.
But it was more than these places, it was about the people I shared them with. I can’t count how many hours I spent with people on staff at The Cavalier Daily. Beyond the meetings and print nights until 2 a.m., picking fonts and photos and moving pixels until my head hurt – I found myself going on walks with Jenn Brice, taking naps on Zack Pasciak’s couch and bothering Ankit Agrawal while he did very important Commerce things. I would sit on the Lawn every day for weeks with Eva Surovell and consume endless amounts of queso with Ava Proehl and Dom Fini. I hung out with Ava MacBlane at a cappella concerts and taught Ethan Fingerhut what long exposure meant. This would translate into larger moments too, like when Jenn came to visit me in Los Angeles and we flew up to see Ankit in San Francisco, or when I visited Zack in New York, Ava and I traveled to Chicago, and Eva and I went to Miami. But my favorite memory of all was when Eva and I made Jenn and Zack build forts with us in the office until we all fell asleep watching “Little Women.”
I’ve hated writing this. Not because I prefer taking photos but because it has made me so sad to be leaving — while I am so happy to be leaving that dark and cold basement of Newcomb, I am not ready to leave the people. I chose this University because everyone here is so passionate and cares so much about everything they’re doing.
Thank you to everyone who has made me feel like more than just “the camera girl.”
The last graduating class confirmed that these friendships are for the long haul. I can’t wait for the countless visits and laughs to come, but now it’s my turn to be publishing my parting shot and graduating. I’ve had three things published during my time at this University — my Common App Essay for Virginia Magazine in 2019, a UVAToday article about my time at ESPN and the amazing mentor that is Anna Katherine Clay in 2022, and my IfYou’reReadingThis in 2023. But funny enough, despite my passion for journalism and four years on this staff, this is the first and last thing I will ever write for the Cavalier Daily. It has been an honor and a privilege to photograph and document this University for you.
Khuyen Dinh was the Photo Editor for the 132nd and 133rd term of The Cavalier Daily, and a Photo Senior Associate Editor for the 131st term.