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

The progress we made and what’s still left to achieve

A bittersweet goodbye
Srija Nagireddy / Daily Collegian

When I first heard of the Massachusetts Daily Collegian, I was still a wide-eyed freshman wandering confused through the chaos of the activities fair. I was drawn towards its booth by the cool stickers and the vague notion of continuing my work in my high school’s paper.

Walking into the all-staff meeting though, made me realize just how different this was from high school. It was something much larger, an organization emblematic of the massive student population it represents.

My first pitch required every ounce of courage I had, watching all the faces turn towards me as we sat in a circle in the basement dungeon of the old office and hoping my voice didn’t falter halfway through. But it was all worth it when that story was published. I still remember the walk up to my dorm that evening, paying no attention to my surroundings as I gripped the paper tight and admired my name (in print!) in the byline.

My work was out there, now available to the entire campus and beyond. This was it, I realized, what it meant to have my voice matter.

I was always the kid with “needs participation” highlighted and bolded on her report card, the one paralyzed by anxiety to the point she could never break her silence. College was an opportunity for me to change that, and of all the small leaps of courage I made throughout my time here, joining this paper was the most significant one.

I found people that I will love forever here. I’ve found a confidence I could never dream of having, a strong belief in the power of my own words.

I’ve also found that it is possible, and necessary, to hold a critical eye to the things you care about and push for their improvement. I’m so proud of the work the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion section has done this year (shoutout to the amazing co-heads Jarius and Aaron), but there is still so much left to do. Our writers come from richly varied backgrounds, and it’s always a pleasure watching people across majors and different walks of life come together at our meetings.

That’s the kind of diversity I want to see across all parts of the Collegian. It’s important for our writers to see people like them reflected in the upper levels of staff, to know that they have the opportunity to shape the future of this paper. The year I applied to be an assistant Op/Ed editor, the head editor of the section was also a woman of color, which made me realize that there was a place for people like me here. Without that, I would have missed out on every experience being in this position has given me. Watching the growth of the Op/Ed section, the strides in representation we have made and the ways in which each of our writers have made strides in their work has been a gift.

I’m so grateful that I picked Op/Ed that day at the all-staff, that I was given the chance to become an assistant editor, and that I was able to write about the issues that matter to me and see others do the same.

I’m so excited for the future of the section, and Luke, Asha and Zach will undoubtedly make Op/Ed even stronger and continue all the great work Catherine has headed this year.

It’s a bittersweet feeling knowing that I won’t be around to witness all this. I will miss this place and UMass so much, but I am truly proud of all I have done in my four years. I am also leaving with something invaluable I’ve been given here: the knowledge that my voice is one worth listening to.

Srija Nagireddy can be reached at [email protected].

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