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The Daily Bruin, imperfections and all, will always hold a special place in my heart -30-

(Amy Dixon/Daily Bruin senior staff)

By Kristie-Valerie Hoang

June 10, 2020 6:22 p.m.

I thought about quitting the Daily Bruin.

More than once, actually.

The first time, as I’ve written (and talked) about dozens of times, was freshman year. I failed another introductory biology exam, and it was time for me to go. Time for me to pack away the camera, clock more hours in Powell and finish up recruiting for summer internships at local hospitals.

The second time was last year.

I sat with then-Photo editor Amy Dixon at the Kerckhoff patio. The blue hour light cast shadows – shadows so solemn they dimmed the rich, orange orbs spilling out of the coffee shop.

“It doesn’t look too good,” Amy said.

My vision blurred, obscured by the tears building up in my eyes for perhaps the billionth time that day. Crying, literally spilling my emotions from my body and allowing the feelings to escape my heart, usually helps me cope.

But the pools of tears I left on my pillowcase, or in this case, the patio tables, could not discard the pain left in my body. Despite winning the staff’s endorsement, I was not appointed editor in chief – a decision so unprecedented the staff went on strike.

“No one is asking you to come back,” she said. “Don’t feel obligated to.”

I wrung my hands. Perhaps I could pursue internship opportunities at local news organizations during the school year, or finally spend a quarter studying in Washington, D.C. – all things being a contributor and editor at The Bruin for the three years leading up to my senior year prevented me from doing.

I didn’t mind, however, that the biggest portion of my resume detailed my contributions to The Bruin. I didn’t mind having @dailybruin as the only organization tagged on my Twitter profile. And I definitely didn’t mind devoting everything I had to this paper.

The Daily Bruin was everything to me.

Angry whispers, riddled with frustration and passive aggressive Slack messages flooding my notifications couldn’t dampen the love I held for this paper. Accusations contesting the merit of my own journalistic accolades could not shatter my perseverance. And even knowing that I could not – no matter how sharp my photos were, how many retweets my posts gained or how compelling my stories read – earn respect from some of my colleagues, I held my head high and did my job the very best I could.

I tried to imagine my life without the dusty office chairs that created traffic jams in an overcrowded office, or the incessant chatter, a glorious symphony singing notes of investigations, shenanigans and the half-working printer, beating a constant drum accompanying my everyday.

I couldn’t imagine leaving my home base, the scrappy, leaky, room on the first floor of Kerckhoff where I never entered without seeing a smiling face.

Every time I tried to leave, something pulled me back.

I could go on about the endless opportunities I’ve received through this paper. The chance to photograph Taylor Swift not just once, but twice, and land a cameo in her Netflix documentary. An internship with The Washington Post, the very publication that sparked my interest in journalism during high school. Editors who sharpened my writing skills and taught me to think critically about the world around me.

I will certainly say my year as Digital Managing editor was the hardest in my three years of editorship. But it was also the most unforgettable.

I somewhat learned how to navigate the digital ocean, understanding servers and code deployment a little better than the average college student. I managed to prevent angry Airbnb owners from kicking 40 of my staff members out of their households, twice! And I skipped class to snag Taylor Swift tickets alongside other members of the #holy-ground in the office.

These are experiences I will carry, and relentlessly reminisce on, for the rest of my life.

But aside from flashy red carpet gigs or a sideline seat to nail-biting football games, I learned about myself through The Bruin. Yes, I prefer writing to mathematics, and I am most definitely not cut out for a career in STEM. But more intimately, I understood who I was – Asian American, Vietnamese – identities I’ve internalized but neglected to embody.

This paper isn’t perfect. The lack of diversity, in race and ethnicity, sexuality, income level and more, is devastating. The stipends offered and the amount of work required is almost despicable. And let’s not forget the toxic work environment that can exist.

But even with its flaws, the Daily Bruin is a force of good.

The council meetings that can feel like they drag on for eternity or the number of times InDesign crashes – these resentments are the price to pay for the privilege we hold. After all, the work inscribed in these very pages marks the first draft of history. We tell stories that move hearts and souls, stories that embolden change for the better.

The Daily Bruin is not perfect. But I still believe in it.

Perhaps it is the people that make Daily Bruin so great. After all, I wouldn’t be “Krust” to anyone else. And there really is no one else in the world that would listen to my diatribes about digital journalism or allow me to hang a “Frozen” poster at my office desk.

There’s a whole list of people who have touched my life through this paper: Mitansh, Linda, Ed, Amy (B), Andrew, Angie, Joy, Axel, MacKenzie, Liz, Aileen, Christine, Tanmay, Kanishka, Niveda, Justin, Eli, Melissa, EJ, the online bros and the entire digital-first squad, thank you for being my favorite people in the world.

To Amy Dixon, you are my best friend, partner-in-crime, fellow pesto fanatic and natural parks lover.

To Michael Zshornack, you believed in me before I believed in myself.

And to Daily Bruin. I had the time of my life with you.

I owe you my career and most importantly, my heart.

Hoang was a photographer 2016-2017, News contributor 2018-2020, assistant Photo editor 2017-2018, Social Media director 2018-2019 and Digital Managing editor 2019-2020.

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Kristie-Valerie Hoang | Alumna
Hoang was the 2019-2020 Digital Managing editor of the Daily Bruin. She was last year's Social Media Director and was previously an Assistant Photo editor on the Arts and Entertainment beat before that. Hoang additionally covers campus politics, national and higher education and is a senior staff photographer.
Hoang was the 2019-2020 Digital Managing editor of the Daily Bruin. She was last year's Social Media Director and was previously an Assistant Photo editor on the Arts and Entertainment beat before that. Hoang additionally covers campus politics, national and higher education and is a senior staff photographer.
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