The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

PARTING SHOT: Sometimes it’s okay to fake a smile

<p>I had joined the Copy desk to connect to the University and Charlottesville, and ultimately, this is why I couldn’t leave.&nbsp;</p>

I had joined the Copy desk to connect to the University and Charlottesville, and ultimately, this is why I couldn’t leave. 

If you search me up on The Cavalier Daily website, you will not find much. After all, it’s not often that you get to hear from a member of the Copy desk — we operate entirely behind-the-scenes. And since you don’t hear from us often, I want to brag about us a little — for every single piece of content that appears on The Cavalier Daily’s website, in print issues and on social media pages, at least one copy staff member has thoroughly read, fact-checked and edited it before publication. We read through every interview transcript, confirm every statistic, double-check every link and point out every stray Oxford comma. In short, an article cannot get published without us. 

When I first met The Cavalier Daily, I didn’t anticipate what it would come to mean to me. My journey to The Cavalier Daily was incredibly simple — it was one of the only student-run organizations that was still operating through the pandemic. Desperate for any opportunity to get involved with anything on Grounds, I put in my application, despite having absolutely no experience in journalism to speak of. Ever the slow decision-maker, I applied to the Copy desk because I couldn’t decide what section I wanted to write for, and the copy desk would allow me to read content from all literary desks. I wanted the chance to understand more about journalism and The Cavalier Daily’s style before actually writing for the paper myself. 

In the interest of transparency, I was also a little terrified to write for a desk. The Cavalier Daily prides itself on writing about the unique circumstances facing University students and Charlottesville residents, but I thought I simply didn’t know enough as a first-year during a very atypical semester to write on those topics. It was fully my intention to switch desks after one semester, after I felt more settled at the University.  Somehow, I ended up staying on Copy for all four years of my undergraduate life. As a Copy editor, then a Copy Senior associate and finally Assistant Managing Editor, there were times that every headlining story, more than half our print articles and back-to-back social media posts were all copy-edited by me. 

I had joined the Copy desk to connect to the University and Charlottesville, and ultimately, this is why I couldn’t leave. Anyone involved in journalism knows that news moves so fast, and I quickly realized that there would always be more to learn about the University that I now call home. It felt like every other week there was a large or historic event happening on or around Grounds, and staying on copy was the only way to keep up with the ever-changing local landscape. Though I did eventually write a few articles of my own, I could never shake the desire to read more, edit more and learn more. And, as a result, I know more than I ever thought possible on everything from the University’s Honor system, to obscure statistics on every single Virginia sports team, to the exact distribution of the Student Council budget, to the latest new restaurant on the Downtown Mall and quite literally everything in between

Fittingly, in my search to learn more about the community around me, I also found a community of my own on the Copy desk. I cannot leave without thanking them for giving me a place where I felt at home. I want to thank Ellie, Eva and Hanna for validating my work on the paper — I don’t think I would’ve continued to pursue a higher level of involvement in The Cavalier Daily without you all. I want to thank Claire, my co-editor for the 134th term and more importantly one of my best friends, and Lexi, for her compassion and flexibility during a tough time in my life. To the members of the Friday copy shift — Blaine, Issy, Evelyn, Delores and Matthew — thank you for all the laughs and honest conversations. And to the current 135th Junior Board — you all are truly some of the best people I have ever had the pleasure to meet. While I know round-the-clock publication is not easy, don’t take this opportunity for granted because it ends too soon. 

Most everyone has heard about that interesting phenomenon that happens when you smile — just the pure act of smiling releases dopamine and serotonin, thus lowering stress and improving mood. This applies even if the smile is fake — the specific contraction of the numerous facial muscles that allow us to smile can convince our brain that we are happy even if we are not. I like to think that the same thing happened when I joined The Cavalier Daily. Day in and day out, I surrounded myself with people who were so enthusiastic about the University and its potential, that after a while, it was impossible not to feel their passion and their convictions rub off on me. I didn’t come to the University with an innate sense of belonging. However, just like smiling, the pure act of being with so many people so passionate about this place convinced me that I loved it, too, flaws and all. 

Alexandra Holmes was Assistant Managing Editor for the 134th term of The Cavalier Daily, copy senior associate for the 133rd term, and copy editor for the 131st and 132nd terms. 


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