A love letter to The Highlander

One final goodbye to the community who helped me find my voice.

I was an entirely different person when I was a freshman at UCR. Stuck in a bad relationship, and lacking a solid circle of people to rely on, I felt completely alone. Looking back now as a college graduate, there are a lot of things I would change. However, I will forever look back fondly on my time at The Highlander and I am so grateful for the love, happiness, and support it has given me. And although I’m starting this new chapter in my life, I feel like I owe everything to The Highlander and am extremely humbled to have led such a talented group of people for the past two years. 

Nervous was an understatement when I entered The Highlander office. It was on a whim during week four of the fall quarter of my freshman year, and I had just been rejected from becoming a freshman fellow at ASUCR. I was frustrated and scorned to say the least, but that would soon turn out to be a blessing in disguise. I remember sitting on the old, dusty couches alone as people filed into the newspaper office. As the previous Editor-in-Chief, Jonathan gave his spiel on what the sections do. I was eager to join the Opinions team and hopeful I could make a name for myself in this organization. 

Courtesy of Grace Sun- The Highlander
Courtesy of Grace Sun- The Highlander

Pretty soon I was publishing week after week for the Opinions section and it gave me a strong sense of purpose my freshman year that I very much lacked in the beginning. I remember grabbing the printed issues every Tuesday and cutting out my articles, taping them to my wall and hoping that someday I would become Assistant Opinions Editor. 

Fast forward to my third year of college and I was elected Editor-in-Chief of The Highlander. As EIC, I was tasked with building my own staff and as the manual states, “make decisions and live with them.” It was quite a daunting task — especially since this was the year that school was going to be completely in-person again. I had to find ways to market The Highlander, make sure our issues were flawless and also work with all of the different personalities on staff to make sure everyone was feeling comfortable and supported. Everything was up to me and I was ready for the challenge. From doing a full remodel of the office space to planning the first-ever retreat post-COVID, I felt like I learned something new every day. 

Of course, I would not have been able to manage everything if it hadn’t been for the neverending support and encouragement of my lovely staff. Seeing them for meetings whether it be pitch or prod, and watching them all grow these past two years has been my greatest joy. I want them all to know that they are my biggest inspiration and I will never forget our silly, goofy times together. 

These people are more than just students I work with — they’re my best friends. I will miss seeing the excellent advertising representatives at the front desk. I will miss sitting on the blue velvet couch in the Opinions office and gossiping about the wildest things. I will miss the girls’ trips to Vegas, the sleepovers and the countless hours spent at prod. But mostly, I will miss their laughter and how my days instantly improved when I spent time with these people. 

I remember being so scared coming into the UCR. I was even more frightened to lead a whole organization on my own. If I could go back and tell myself one thing though, I would grab my hand and give me the reassurance that the best is yet to come and that I will never be alone. In a few weeks, I will be walking the stage at the Toyota Arena with my besties and my days at The Highlander will be behind me for good, but the friendships and memories I’ve made will last a lifetime.