I was a last-minute hire at The Highlander, having been brought during the second week of fall without any of the usual training. It was something of an adjustment period, but the paper needed me, and a year and a half later, I find it is coming to an end just as abruptly as it started.

I’ve been a writer for just about as long as I can say I’ve been anything at all, so I was surprised as anyone that the position I applied for was one related to design and layout. I had the experience, though, and for much of that first fall quarter, I was the only one on the production team, working alone in an empty conference room to turn Word documents and JPEGs into the newspaper you’re reading right now.

Despite that, I have found that some of the closest friendships I have made at UCR have come from The Highlander. Indeed, as a theatre major, almost all of my friendships have been made not through classes or clubs but through working, creating and toiling side by side with another person just as passionate as I am. While the position has its perks — I can’t say I haven’t enjoyed having the office space on a long day — it is not, at the end of the day, the material benefits I will miss, but the people and the experiences.

I am proud of the work I have done here. I might point out in particular such pages as Volume 72, Issue 03’s Vain Fall Runway article — and I might even go so far as to say this experience has inspired me to continue further design or journalistic work. I had my humble beginnings in the far-off year of 2019 as a copy editor for my high school yearbook, and then — in March of 2020, you remember the one — I simply happened to have one of the yearbook club’s laptops, pre-loaded with Adobe Suite, in my possession when we were told that we would not be returning to school. Thus, I was unwittingly and abruptly made into a de facto layout designer and got a crash-course over Zoom by the rest of the team. The next year, I ran for EIC and was unanimously elected — I’d like to think for my having risen to the challenge the prior spring — and continued to hone my skills.

We come full circle now. I was a humble high school writer, suddenly plunged into the world of design and layout when the world was plunged into lockdown. Then I was equally suddenly plunged into designing for The Highlander, and now, having grown more than I’d ever imagined, I am so close to being plunged just as suddenly into the wide, wide world beyond university.