Sellner reflects on his time at the Collegian

By Stephen Sellner

 

Courtesy of Stephen Sellner
Courtesy of Stephen Sellner

You take a room, one as gloomy and, at times, ugly as the Collegian offices, and from an outside perspective, it doesn’t look like much.

There are walls, desks, chairs, even a green and blue checkerboard floor, but the beauty of that ugly office isn’t always visible to naked eye. There are the memories and the exciting and fulfilling career paths that have been paved for so many lucky University of Massachusetts students, including myself, in that windowless space.

I owe so much to that ugly office. Much more than can be fit into a single column.

When I first strolled down to the basement of the Campus Center as a freshman, merely days into my college career, I felt in over my head. I mean, I had known that I wanted to be a sports writer since I was 15 years old, but the idea of becoming one seemed like a daunting task and, frankly, an impossible dream to achieve.

But with the help of some tremendous people, and a few breaks along the way, I found a field that I not only wanted to make my career, but also one I wanted to make my life as well. Some students might be graduating in May with a degree in some field that will surely lead to some great paydays at the end of every week, but will they feel the excitement, fulfillment and thrill of waking up on Monday morning to go to a job they love?

That’s what so many people down at the Collegian are chasing. Sure, there were the rough nights of doing layout until 2 or 3 a.m., or the stress of finding the perfect way to construct a basketball game into a 700-word game story. But I’ll be damned if every second of it wasn’t worth it.

There were the hectic but triumphant road trips to Foxborough, New York City, Atlantic City, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Philadelphia and so many more. And while each trip had a different destination, they all ended with impeccable renditions of late 90s, early 2000s hip-hop songs in the car. Those are some of the memories that will always bring a smile to my face.

So much about college is stressing over final exams and end results. But the one thing I’ll treasure the most about my four years at UMass is how it allowed me to find myself and helped me realize what kind of person I want to be and what kind of life I want to live.

I found that in journalism, I found that down at the Collegian and I found that at UMass.

Sure, we’re all looking for that job that pays the bills, gives us time to hang out with friends and maybe allows us to move out of our parents’ house within a year. But remember that choosing a career to simply fulfill those qualifications, rather than finding a field that you’re motivated to grow into and excel at, can leave you looking at your life years down the road and wondering what you did with all that time.

There’s not one set blueprint on how to live this life, just like there’s not one set way to ask a girl out on a date, study for an exam or even build a burrito at Chipotle. The beauty of this life and this country is that you can take whatever interests you and speaks to you and turn that into your own path, maybe one that hasn’t been traveled before, and chase down the life you want to live.

For any college student reading this, my hope is that you’ll take your four years and use them wisely. They go by fast. Make sure you get the most out of your time in college and find out what kind of person you want to be, what you want to do, and how you want to live your life. Because before you know it, you’ll be getting emails about fittings for caps and gowns and wonder how in the hell you got to this point.

But if you can look back on it and smile and still be able to look to the future with promise and excitement, you’ll know you’ve done something right.

I know I did. And I owe a lot of it to that raggedy ‘ole office in the basement of the Campus Center.

Stephen Sellner can be reached at [email protected]