May 26, 2016

BUI | Majoring in The Cornell Daily Sun

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This weekend, I, along with thousands of my fellow graduates, will walk across Schoellkopf Field to receive the degrees we’ve worked on for a long four (or five, or six) years. Mine will be in biology and society, but if you wanted me to tell you the truth, I had two majors, the other being in “The Cornell Daily Sun.”

It was a major that I picked up in the second semester of my freshman year, kind of just for the hell of it. I had no prior experience in journalism, but was fascinated by the thought of writing for a wider audience and working for my college newspaper. So I sent out an email asking about the information session and trekked down to the Commons for my first introductory ‘class’ required for the major: Journalism 1110, taught by the managing editor at the time (Hey, Akane!). My first assignment for the class was a story on a diversity dialogue circle that I’m certain fewer than 10 people attended.

But through the semesters-long process of writing dozens of stories and taking on greater roles at the paper, I came to realize that The Sun wasn’t your run-of-the-mill major.

The exams? Well, sometimes they were more like pop quizzes. They came at unusual times of the day, and there was no way you could be prepared for what you were about to undertake. I remember being woken up at 6 a.m. to word that the Chapter House pub was on fire, and sprinting up East Buffalo Street to the scene with camera and notepad in hand. To put it quite frankly, I had never felt like such a journalist in my life. Another one of my favorite memories working for The Sun was getting the chance to attend the press conference where they were to announce Elizabeth Garrett would become Cornell’s next president — we all had our laptops out in anticipation, and it was another moment where I felt like the job didn’t get any better than this.

The time commitment? Perhaps on par with that of an engineering major but overall, incalculable. Well, I guess there was one time when I was at The Sun’s offices from 11 a.m. to 5 a.m. putting out a special edition of the paper — if you don’t want to count, that’s 18 hours.

The group projects? Five days a week, and there was no way anybody in the group could escape accountability. One of the things that still amazes me about The Sun is that hundreds of editors and staffers before us, and hundreds of editors and staffers to come, have put their all into this paper, whether through stories, reviews, photos or other forms of work. As expected, hiccups occur along the way, but when was the last time you remember seeing The Sun not being on newsstands when it was supposed to?

The responsibilities? A lot — and let me again say a lot — is on the line. There’s a reputation to uphold, relationships to maintain and a community to serve. When any of this went wrong, there were real adult consequences for us.

The overall experience? Unforgettable. The Sun has equipped me with the professional and life skills I could honestly never gain from being just a student. It’s taught me how to remain functional when put in a pressure cooker, how to manage (and how not to manage) a team, how to become more confident, whether in my writing or interactions with people. It’s given me friendships that have lasted through my years here at Cornell and that I know will continue after graduation.

So yeah, I guess you can say majoring in The Cornell Daily Sun isn’t your typical college experience. But I couldn’t have done it without these people:

Mom and Dad, the greatest supporters of all my life’s endeavors. Thank you for constantly reminding me that college isn’t about getting that 4.0, and that sometimes just trying your best is good enough. Thank you for being The Sun’s number one fans, and for those texts at 3 a.m. pointing out that unfortunate typo we made in the top story. And thank you, for being okay with sending your kid 2,644 miles away from home and letting her experience this pretty cool place. I’ll never forget the moment when we pulled up in front of High Rise 5 on Move-In Day in a lime green Ford Fiesta while I tried to hide my face from embarrassment because we ended up with such a ridiculous-looking rental car.

To Tyler, Anushka, Noah, Jayne, Gabriella, Sami, Anna, Zach and the other Sun Swugs I may have forgotten, thank you for making 139 W. State St. — also known as the Sigma Upsilon Nu fraternity house — a place to call home. (Literally. My default Grubhub address is still set to The Sun’s address.) All those calories consumed from rather sketchy food locales and late nights filled with silliness and unproductivity were all worth it because of you guys. My time at The Sun — broken down into easy-to-digest figures — would be 30 percent attempting to craft punny kickers with the news crew, 20 percent waiting for our food at Gorgers because they take forever, another 20 percent fooling around in the newsroom, 15 percent of actually getting work done and 100 percent enjoying the company of the people I was surrounded with. I am forever indebted to your wisdom, your advice, your support and your friendship.

I often joke about the fact that I live closer to The Sun’s offices than to campus, and how that really says something about my priorities. Today, as I wrap up this column under the roof that I’ve called my second home for the past few years, I think about how my time at Cornell would have been drastically different without this place, and for this I am grateful.

Annie Bui is graduating from the College of Human Ecology. She served as the managing editor of The Sun’s 133rd Editorial Board. She may be reached at [email protected]