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I leave my memories with The Bruin and my hopes for the future on the Photo wall -30-

Anika Chakrabarti stands for a portrait. (Joseph Jimenez/Photo editor)

By Anika Chakrabarti

June 11, 2023 9:16 p.m.

A chaotic and ever-growing collection of photos and quotes hangs on the wall above the Photo computers in the Daily Bruin office.

As the end of the year neared, I sat in the office looking through the contents of that wall, reliving some of the best memories of my college years. I observed the generations of photographers that came before me, and I thought about how the wall will change over the years after I graduate. It is an honor to have a part of me on that Photo wall alongside so many wonderful people who I get to call my friends.

I remember during the fall quarter of my freshman year, I attended a Daily Bruin info session. Having just moved to Westwood from a small town in Northern California, I was overwhelmed by the size of the student body here and was desperately searching for something to help make the campus feel a little smaller. During the info session, we got to tour the office and meet the current Photo editors, and I immediately knew that this place would become my home on campus. Something just clicked, and I had that gut feeling. The humor and camaraderie shared between the Photo editors made me feel safe and welcome, and I aspired to be like all of the talented photographers whose photos I saw on the Daily Bruin website.

A few weeks later, I received a rejection email. I did not get accepted as a Photo intern that quarter.

While devastated, I still had my heart set on Daily Bruin. When winter quarter came around, I reworked my application and resubmitted it, this time with more confidence. I was accepted the second time and could not wait to start contributing.

I took a handful of photography assignments as a newly admitted Photo intern before the pandemic hit. My contributions to the Daily Bruin became an occasional FaceTime photoshoot and stating the pits and peaks of my week at Zoom section meetings. I tried to make the most of the experience, and being one of the few photographers in Westwood at the time, I contributed to galleries about the empty campus and voting during the 2020 election. I enjoyed reporting on issues that were directly relevant to my peers, and I had the Photo editors to help guide me in my caption writing and offer critiques of my photos. Despite the remote conditions, I still had a support system and community within Daily Bruin Photo.

As I wrapped up my fourth quarter of online school, I got accepted as an assistant Photo editor on the News beat. I gradually got to know my fellow “oatmilkers” – Ashley Kenney, Sakshi Joglekar and David Rimer – whom I had only met once or twice in person before. I cannot express enough gratitude for these three individuals. The constant jokes in our “oatmilkers” Slack channel, our quarterly fancy dinner traditions and the care they put into the Photo section made all of our work worth it. We were not only a team, but also a family.

The opportunity to become top Photo editor was then too promising to give up. I could not pass up the chance to have another year of those close relationships and memories that I forged as an assistant Photo editor, not to mention the opportunity to take as many photos as I could before I graduated and to carry out my ideas for the section. At this point, I transitioned from an “oatmilker” to a “bluebirder.” The bluebirders – Megan Cai, Jeremy Chen and Joseph Jimenez – became part of my Photo family for my senior year.

Being an editor for two years was chaotic, rewarding, exhausting and overwhelming, and I would relive all of it in a heartbeat.

From cooking nights at Photo staffer Shengfeng Chien’s apartment to playing Monopoly Deal and Catan with Megan, Jeremy and Joseph, there are countless memories that have defined my time here. I will never forget eating at Nobu Malibu with my fellow Photo editors and then waking up at 4 a.m. the next day to ski on Mammoth Mountain with David and then-Photo senior staffer Lauren Man. I will miss the frequent Wanderlust Creamery trips we took whenever new monthly flavors dropped. I am grateful for the quarterly Zoom life updates with the “blue-milkers.” I still relive the moment when the Photo editors and I delivered food to Jeremy via a 17-story-long trash bag rope.

Looking back at the photographer I was in my first year at UCLA, I never would have dreamed of getting to photograph events such as March Madness or Vice President Kamala Harris’ visit to UCLA. However, as a first-year, I followed my gut feeling and put my faith in Daily Bruin, and as a result, I eventually grew into the position of top Photo editor.

I became more passionate about photojournalism with each new experience, and I learned how to lead a section while balancing school, relationships and other responsibilities.

As I browse through the Photo wall in the office, a wall that encapsulates so much of my college experience, I feel nothing but gratitude. I am honored to leave my memories with this paper up there for the upcoming generations of photographers to add to.

And I cannot wait to see how this wall evolves over time.

Chakrabarti was a Photo contributor 2020-2021, assistant Photo editor 2021-2022 and Photo editor 2022-2023.

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Anika Chakrabarti | Photo editor
Chakrabarti is the 2022-2023 Photo editor. She was previously the 2021-2022 assistant Photo editor on the News beat. She is a fourth-year mathematics of computation student at UCLA, and she is from Sacramento, California.
Chakrabarti is the 2022-2023 Photo editor. She was previously the 2021-2022 assistant Photo editor on the News beat. She is a fourth-year mathematics of computation student at UCLA, and she is from Sacramento, California.
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