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The Daily Bruin helped me build my writing career at UCLA and beyond -30-

EJ Panaligan stands for a portrait. (Joseph Jimenez/Assistant Photo editor)

By EJ Panaligan

June 4, 2022 7:18 p.m.

I realize that whatever I say here will never comprehensively articulate what these past four years have meant to me, so I’m just going to write. I hope it all makes sense by the end.

I came to UCLA with the sole intent of joining the Daily Bruin. My eighth-grade English teacher very innocuously suggested one day that I would do well in journalism, and I never let go of that thought. I just didn’t know early on what area of journalism I felt passionate about. That took some time to figure out.

My time with the Opinion section brought me immense enjoyment and gave me some very meaningful life lessons, coming in as an extremely nervous intern to joining its editorial team with Lucy Carroll and Lena Nguyen and eventually becoming its head honcho with the extremely gracious Jake Brophy and Sabrina Huang by my side. With Opinion, it was always the people — from my fantastic co-editors to our fearless columnists — that brought me the most joy. And I’ll forever be proud of what “Columns From Quarantine” accomplished in underscoring the heartache, isolation and instability that the COVID-19 pandemic brought onto us all. Chancellor Gene Block’s submission and The Washington Post’s shoutout were cool, too.

But what I’ll always be indebted to the Daily Bruin for is its willingness in allowing staffers to explore and cross-train in its different sections. For as long as I’ve had a device with access to the Internet, I’ve been immersed with every facet of music culture. Whether I was reading Complex interviews with Kid Cudi or Pitchfork reviews of Lorde records, I was always curious about exploring its different worlds and genres, the creative processes of different artists and everything in between. So when Brooke Cuzick and Kristin Snyder let me review Kanye West’s “JESUS IS KING” record in fall 2019 with no prior A&E experience (you two are forever awesome for that!), I had no idea at the time what doors it would open for me in the journalism world.

I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I’ve always cared very deeply about music. I’ve pored over so many insightful displays of music journalism in my youth. I can’t tell you why I wasn’t able to put the two together earlier, but the Daily Bruin allotted me the space to figure it out and discover that music journalism was where my heart was at. And man, what a journey it has been since.

My HAIM album review landed me a freelance opportunity and a print byline in a magazine anybody could buy at a grocery or bookstore. My mom, of course, bought multiple copies. Kid Cudi, my childhood musical idol, called me “brother” on Twitter – I had the greatest workout of all time at the gym that day. I got to freelance for another publication that I don’t think I’m publicly allowed to discuss but will forever pinch myself about. My collective body of work at The Bruin got me an editorial internship with Billboard, which wound up being a music industry crash course that further educated me about a world I care so intimately about and gained so much from.

All of this, along with so much more, happened because The Bruin gave me the opportunity to discover who I am professionally. I wouldn’t know where I’d be today without that space to figure myself out, and there’s really nothing more beautiful than that. I’m thankful to all the different editors, staffers and writers I’ve worked with during my time here. Thank you for letting me be me.

Lucy and Lena – our times together in the office were great, but nothing will beat you two convincing me to drunkenly rap Drake’s “Headlines” at some random karaoke bar in Los Angeles. Happy to have called you two my co-editors, but I’m even more proud to call you two my closest friends.

Sam Connon – what happens when you put two sports- and entertainment culture-obsessed nerds in the same newsroom? They become best buds. Thank you for continuing to be such a brother to me.

This past December, I got to visit and work a day at Billboard’s LA office. While listening to an advance stream of unreleased music from one of my favorite artists, I looked up from my desk, which had a skyline view of the nearby Westwood Village and UCLA. Feeling a wave of emotions, I went to the bathroom to cry.

I was reminded of the countless hours I spent in that windowless office in Kerckhoff Hall and how every hour spent there figuring myself out brought me to that particular moment at the Billboard office. Every feeling I had beautifully coalesced in that moment, and I was able to briefly reflect and feel thankful for it all.

Finality scares me. I don’t know what’s next, and frankly, I’m a bit terrified about it. But my time at The Bruin has taught me that pursuing what I’m passionate about will only ever bring about more good in my life.

So, off I go.

Panaligan was an Opinion columnist 2018-2019, assistant Opinion editor 2019-2020, Arts contributor 2019-2021 and Opinion editor 2020-2021.

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EJ Panaligan | Senior staff
Panaligan is a senior staffer for the Arts and Entertainment and Opinion sections. He was previously the Opinion editor in 2020-21, and created the "Columns From Quarantine" Opinion column series. For the Arts and Entertainment section, he regularly contributes features, columns, reviews and Q&As to the Music | Fine Arts beat. He also co-created the "Life and Hip-Hop" Arts column series. He is from Carson, California but unabashedly dreams of a professional life in New York City.
Panaligan is a senior staffer for the Arts and Entertainment and Opinion sections. He was previously the Opinion editor in 2020-21, and created the "Columns From Quarantine" Opinion column series. For the Arts and Entertainment section, he regularly contributes features, columns, reviews and Q&As to the Music | Fine Arts beat. He also co-created the "Life and Hip-Hop" Arts column series. He is from Carson, California but unabashedly dreams of a professional life in New York City.
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