I loved this job because there’s always a story in sports, something beyond the score of the game that brings people together: Triumph, heartbreak, drama, unity, politics. Serving as sports editor was a lesson that at the core of everything is people and relationships. I’ll take with me the importance of telling real people’s stories and how these stories impact real life in ways that make a difference.
I’m even grateful for the most negative and ridiculous comments, which usually lurk under the Facebook posts. For every cruel comment expressing that only men, usually white men, are truly deserving of getting into engineering school there were two or three more comments underneath debating and disagreeing.
I joined The Sun in fall 2017 for reasons I no longer remember, but I was certain that I would not last a semester. I had never done any journalism in my life, and before college, I had never written anything in English more than 300 words. Somehow, I stuck around and even made it to editorship, but every single day I was down at The Sun’s red brick office in the Commons, I questioned if I was qualified to be there. When I had to call the shots on something, I wondered if the swarm of talented people in the newsroom was actually convinced by my reasonings, or if they were just being nice. I’ve been hyper-aware of who I am since the very beginning of my time in this country, when a customs officer at John F. Kennedy airport commented on how well I speak English “for a Chinese student” as he stamped my passport.
One evening, while editing at The Sun’s office, a fellow editor walked into the building and informed us that a car had hit an elderly woman a few blocks away from the office. The other news editor in the room was busy writing an article, which meant that I was the only one available to go outside and check out the scene. I was used to timidly playing a secondary role and relying on other news editors to step up to solve a problem in the newsroom. But, at this moment, I was the one who had to cover the task at hand. I walked out of The Sun’s office, excited for this chance to cover breaking news.
My senior year of college has been a whole lot of “lasts” that happened without me even realizing them. I slammed down my pencil and released a big sigh as I submitted my last prelim without noting it was my last. My last Ithaca snow — dreadfully late into spring — fell onto my unsuspecting head without any consideration for how this would never happen again. When would be my last time crying in office hours? My last all-nighter, making ramen and a soft-boiled egg at 3:00 a.m.?
The first time I appeared in The Sun, I was barely a year old. A photo of me bouncing in a highchair next to my dad lay under the title “Sloppy Supper” with a caption that read, “A sweetly messy toddler chows down at the Chariot recently.” This was on page eight, the page that, two decades later, I would spend hours piecing together each week down at the Sun office. I started as a news writer. I still clearly remember running out of Balch Hall to get to my first interview on time, wearing an outfit that I thought made me look more intelligent than I actually felt. It was a story about the Big Red Barn that got buried away in the back of the paper, but I didn’t care, because my name was on the byline and I felt like I was part of something important. I began as a news writer and ended as the Dining editor.
Kurt Vonnegut once opined on The Sun’s role in his life saying, “I was happiest when I was all alone — and it was very late at night, and I was walking up the hill after having helped put The Sun to bed.” After signing out the day’s pages and switching off the office lights I’ve done that walk and I know that hill. But I was never all alone. I tend to rant about The Sun. I rant and argue about why The Sun matters — the crucial role it serves in holding Cornell’s administration accountable, telling important stories and uplifting a diverse array of voices. I fervently believe that more people should join The Sun, talk to The Sun and read The Sun every day.
I joined The Sun because I loved sports. And partially because my best friend Scott joined his college newspaper and I figured if Scott, a decidedly average writer, could cover sports in college, then so could I. But mostly because I loved sports. It’s been four years, and my love for sports has diminished. Yes, I still follow LeBron James way too closely for anyone outside of Cleveland and I could rattle off far too many Division I college mascots, but I find myself disinterested in games or standings or even entire sports (sorry, baseball). Yet, thanks to my time on The Sun, that passion for sports has been replaced with a love of writing, an appreciation for journalism and a community of talented, caring friends.
Divining is a pseudo-scientific and semi-magical practice where with just the aid of a bi-pronged stick, one walks across an expanse of land in an attempt to find underground water by feel and faith alone. It is, perhaps, the only way I can describe how the last four years here at Cornell have felt. After wandering around largely aimlessly with an intense yet misplaced thirst for success driven by a strong aversion to letting people down, while looking objectively silly, I will be the first to admit that despite my best efforts, I did not find water. The Cornell Daily Sun, however, was the closest thing to it. I was one of those overeager high school newspaper editors-in-chief, which is unfortunately more of a personality type than a job, and I sought out The Sun as a first semester freshman. I remember bussing down to the brick and ivy offices near the Commons and thinking that while it was pretty neat that there were so many people buzzing around and looking so serious, I would just write a few articles and bail.