Wednesday, October 16

Paper serves as a platform for jumping into other pursuits


During the giant student Activities Fair the first week of my first year, I went straight to one booth: that of the Daily Bruin. I spent hours on my application to the News department, convinced that the Daily Bruin would be my niche, whereas in high school, I would feel most at home in the newsroom.

When I was accepted, I was utterly ecstatic. But when I received my first assignment, I was terrified.

I had two days to write a story about cuts to the Student Health Advocate program, and no one wanted to talk to me. My editor, Julia Erlandson, told me I would just have to write that they refused to comment. “Great,” I thought. I had been at UCLA for a month, and I was already pissing off the administration. But the moment I turned in that first story (as stressful as it was) was the first time I really felt like a college student. I wasn’t in high school anymore; I was on to bigger and better things.

For me, though the Daily Bruin was not the close-knit community I had hoped for, it still was a defining part of my college experience. The Daily Bruin pushed me. I learned how to approach an interview and ask the right questions, even when I knew very little about the interviewee’s expertise. I gained the courage to call back experts who said they didn’t have the time to talk to me or that claimed they hated all reporters. It is thanks to the Daily Bruin that I have a greater appreciation for UCLA as an institution, for how decisions concerning academics, housing, etc. are made, and for how impressive and inspiring professors and students are across all departments. Because of the Daily Bruin, I was able to talk to vice chancellors, Pulitzer Prize winners, students on the forefront of the Obama campaign; people I might have never met. But most importantly, it was through complaining about flaky sources and stressing about deadlines that I met two of my closest friends. And for them, I am eternally grateful to the Daily Bruin.

The Daily Bruin was my first foray into campus involvement. It was where I gained the confidence to become more involved in campus groups that were outside my comfort zone. It was because I was used to nagging sources that I continually called Project Literacy directors, asking to join the group even though they initially never responded to my phone calls. It was because of the Daily Bruin that I had the strength to get involved in research, even though I secretly doubted my abilities. The Daily Bruin was the jumping off point for these two activities that have shaped my time at UCLA.

But as busy as I became with ProLit, my research, my friends and my classes, I could never give up the Daily Bruin. For me, the Daily Bruin has always been like that younger sibling that drives you crazy when you are home but that you always surprisingly miss when you are gone.

Ben-Shachar was a News reporter from 2006-2010.

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