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Bruins in Paris

The Bruin gave me the community that my online, remote freshman year lacked -30-

Riley De Jong stands for a portrait. (Joseph Jimenez/Photo editor)

By Riley De Jong

June 11, 2023 9:31 p.m.

The first time I walked into the Daily Bruin office I was, first and foremost, nervous.

I was a sophomore at the time, and my first year at UCLA had been entirely online thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. I spent the year at home in New Jersey, thousands of miles from campus and my new college friends. Long story short, I was craving the opportunity to get involved in my new community.

Throughout my freshman year, a few of my friends informed me about the Daily Bruin – the student-run newspaper at UCLA. They raved about the experience of writing for a large publication and meeting new friends across the many different sections of the paper. By the time we were welcomed back onto campus in the fall of 2021, I knew I had to apply.

I spent weeks contemplating which section to apply for. Opinion would let me use my position to voice my perspective, but PRIME would allow me to explore nuanced topics related to student life. Finally, I applied for a position at the Quad, intrigued by the style of explanatory journalism and the idea that I would have a great deal of freedom in what I chose to write about.

My first time in the office, my stomach was in knots as I was led to the managing editors’ nook to interview for an intern position.

As my eyes nervously darted around the room, I spotted one of the first friends I made during freshman orientation: Abi Siatkowski, the content editor for PRIME at the time. She flashed me a smile and a quick wave, easing my nerves with a quiet, “Good luck.”

That small interaction made me feel at home in the office, knowing I was surrounded by people who care about writing and journalism as much as I do. I readily accepted when I was offered a position at the Quad, excited to form new friendships and develop my skills at the newspaper.

Over the past two years that I have been involved in the paper, this feeling has not wavered. The relationships I have made within the Daily Bruin community continue to be some of my most steady and treasured friendships. No matter where the relationship started – in classes, other clubs, through friends or simply in the office – there was always a feeling of kinship and belonging when I met someone else involved with the Daily Bruin.

The feeling of a welcoming community is what drew me to UCLA in the first place, and to find an organization that embodies these characteristics was a gift. I could not be more grateful for the hours spent in the office, the relationships I have formed and the way The Bruin has shaped me as a writer, a coworker and a friend.

I can only hope that my time as a Quad contributor serves to inspire future Daily Bruin staffers to pursue their passions for writing and publishing.

Before I sign off, there are many people that I would like to thank for making my time at UCLA better than I could have ever imagined.

Thank you to my editors, past and present, for working with me to shape my stories into the best versions they could be.

Thank you to all The Bruin staffers I have worked with, for inspiring me to work harder and to make the most of my college experience.

Most of all, thank you to my friends, of whom there are too many to list, who have supported me in and outside of the Daily Bruin, and who have pushed me to be a better writer, listener, editor and overall better person.

While I will dearly miss spending long hours in the office, answering Slack messages at all times of the day and night and running into staffers all over campus, I cannot wait to cheer you all on from the outside.

De Jong was a Quad contributor 2021-2023.

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