Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Leaving in a better place than when it found me

(Robert Rigo)

I first walked into the Massachusetts Daily Collegian offices when I was 18 years old.

Classes for my freshman year hadn’t even started yet. The photo editor, Justin Surgent (who I went to high school with) told me to join back in June 2013, two days after I had graduated high school.

His Facebook message read: “… I hope you’re still taking pictures, because the Massachusetts Daily Collegian is always looking for photographers, and as photo editor, I’d love to see you come and shoot some events for us! Anyway, enjoy your summer, and I’m sure I’ll run into you this fall.”

So, I did what he said. I came and photographed some events for the Collegian.

And just as a disclaimer, if anyone has a problem with the mess I’ve made, you have Justin to blame for it.

Four years, eight semesters, 1,421 photos and six different Collegian positions later, I sit here at 22 years old as the editor in chief of this incredible, legendary institution. And I’ve loved every minute of it.

We have a mantra here that I’ve always sort of hated, “Leave the Collegian in a better place than when you found it.” To that I say B.S. To me, being here has always been the best. I sit here four years later in a better place than when the Collegian found me.

This experience has been more than eight pages every Monday through Thursday for the last 1,460 days of my life.

The Collegian, to me, has challenged every preconceived notion I’ve had of myself. It has lifted me to prove myself as a journalist, as a leader and as someone who refused to fit the mold of tradition.

But most importantly, it has given me life, it has given me the confidence to not only come out of the darkness, but to come out of the closet.

This place is a home I thought I’d never find and has given me a family of friends I will never deserve. People who believed in me, who counted on me, who loved me for everything that I am and didn’t care about everything I wasn’t.

Working here is almost annoyingly endearing, almost. Whether you like it or not, when you are here you become a part of the family, or as I like to call it, the cult.

It is nothing short of amazing to be surrounded by 55 editors and a staff that totals over 100 students who care so passionately about the work that they do. Arguments in the office late at night over properly sourced Op/Eds, rapid communication and execution of breaking news in the middle of class, the over 35 hours a week that we put into just laying out the paper; all of it was worthwhile.

It’s a real challenge and is probably the realest thing people have ever done. Some people quit because of how high the standards are or how demanding it can be, and who can blame them when you are a student who is simultaneously trying to balance the rest of life on their shoulders.

Leading this team has been the greatest accomplishment of my life and being elected as editor in chief has been the most amazing honor. I love these people with everything I have and I’ve pushed them to be the best they can be regardless of the circumstances.

That is what I’m going to miss the most.

I’m going to miss growing with these people and continuously pushing forward. To creating something everyday with my best friends, to having experience in place that is only matched by the age of the grout in the tiles. To seeing my friends succeed and become something greater.

My experience here has taken me to Fenway Park, New York Fashion Week, Barclays Center, Gillette Stadium, the TD Garden, countless concerts that range from Kishi Bashi to Fetty Wap.

It has taken me to my friends’ homes to spend the day, the night, the weekend, meeting their families, or better yet their dogs. But after all this time my favorite place it has taken me is room 113 in the Campus Center of the University of Massachusetts.

It has filled me with so much laughter I could cry and has led me to so many tears that I could fill an ocean. And I wouldn’t change that for the world.

I will never be the perfect editor, the perfect journalist or the perfect person. But this has been the perfect job for me. If the past four years here are as fun or are at all a reflection of what work in the “real world” is supposed to be like than I don’t expect to work a single day in my whole life.

Thank you, Daily Collegian, for giving me so much more than I could ever give back to you.

Robert Rigo was the Collegian Editor in Chief and can be reached at [email protected].

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  • B

    best wishes!May 2, 2017 at 9:33 pm

    Love you! Your work ethic, commitment to excellence, determination, and ability to make the Collegian GREAT will be remembered and not go unnoticed. The change you made has pushed the standards of the paper and you have made your team of journalists better.