The final quote

I’ll be back in May

Photo+courtesy+of+Sofi+Shlepakov

Photo courtesy of Sofi Shlepakov

By Sofi Shlepakov, Assistant News Editor

It is currently Dec. 5, and I am writing this in my bed, trying to sum up two and a half years of memories and hard work into one final goodbye.

I am not philosophical or inspirational in any way. I find it more enjoyable to transcribe a 45-minute interview than to write a creative piece. In the simplest of terms, being a news journalist has always felt like a math equation for me: find a lead, interview sources and write the story.

For context, I started writing at the Massachusetts Daily Collegian during my sophomore year in 2020 — also the height of the pandemic. At the time, I was considering transferring out of the University of Massachusetts, feeling that I wouldn’t find a sense of community. I decided to declare journalism as my second major on a whim to see if that would change my mind.

As you can see, I am still here and didn’t transfer, and I can confidently say that the Collegian kept me at UMass. This newspaper and the students that run it are some of the most creative and motivated students I know, and I feel inspired having been a part of it.

I started with the news section and stuck with it, only straying once this past year to write an arts story. I’ve written for two beats, starting with the COVID-19 beat, which led me to love investigative journalism after working on the “What Went Wrong” series with Will Katcher and Cassie McGrath, who took me under their wing even though I just started writing.

When I became an assistant news editor and the COVID beat was not as prevalent, Sophie Gardner created the investigative beat for me to lead, and because of that, I can truly say that I have been doing something I love for the past year and a half.

What’s so special about being part of the Collegian is the passion that all these students have for writing. This is a student organized and run agency with no faculty aide or assistance in the editorial process, and everyone truly does this because they want to. Being surrounded by people who love what they are doing, while also loving what you are doing, created a comfortable and safe environment for me.

I keep telling myself I wish I had more time to experience my “lasts” a little longer. But I’ve come to the realization that no amount of time will ever feel like my time is done. If I keep looking for one more “last,” I will never move on, but I appreciate that I have something that is so hard to say goodbye to. I’m trying to enjoy this time as much as possible, but I also know in the back of my mind that the moment is bound to come to an end — even this moment as I write this.

I am horrible at goodbyes and have pushed back the fact that I am graduating a semester early to the back of my mind. The bitter-sweet moment of it is knowing that I am the first to go, and that I am going to get to watch everyone succeed at the paper, but not get to be there in the moment.

Although I am not saying goodbye to the Collegian in all its entirety, because the friendships I have made here will always stay with me, I am saying goodbye to journalism to pursue a different career path.

“So, to the paper that pushed me beyond my limits and made me stay, the people that have provided me with the most memorable moments and the office that felt like home, thank you and goodbye, I love you all,” Shlepakov said.

Sofi Shlepakov can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @SShlepakov.