A jack of all trades — that’s what I considered myself until I walked through the Gazette doors in September of my third year. Throughout my time at Western I was involved with sports, sophing and volunteering. But I moved on from those activities once I realized, “Hey, this Gazette thing — there’s no way I’m half-assing this.”

So I dove into the all-consuming world of the Gazette. And I couldn’t be happier that I made that choice.

Other than my love for writing, one thing truly made me truly stick around at the Gazette: the people. The best nugget I’ve gleaned from this experience — and what I hope you take away from this column, dear reader — is the importance of surrounding yourself with people who make you better. Whether it be a better student, a better friend, a better journalist, a better athlete, a better USC rep — surround yourself with people who make you want to be better at what’s important to you.

I don’t mean “be better” in a competitive sense; I mean invest in what you care about. For me, it took one sit-down session with an editor to point out where my writing could improve. I knew I could be a better writer, and that feedback combined with the inspiring crowd that hangs out in UCC 263 made me get there. I could not be more grateful for these people who continually drive me.

From this experience, sure, I’m taking away some journalism skills. But of equal importance are the lessons I learned about collaboration, working on the fly and pushing creative ideas beyond original conception. Have an idea for a written story? Make it multimedia. There’s a weekend-long event? Do live coverage. Found an interesting person to interview? Turn it into a profile feature. Take an idea, let others make it better and run with it as best you can.

I apologize if I ever grimaced in the face of an editor who suggested ways to improve a piece; I was likely un-caffeinated and thinking about the extra work involved. But every single time, running with those suggestions has been worth the extra effort. I’m proud of the work the Gazette has done this year, and don’t believe any of us editors would be as successful without one another.

I hope that you, dear Western student, find your place and people on campus that push you to be better at what you love doing. And once you find that environment, cling on. I hate to end my final piece for the Gazette on a quote (a no-no in the world of journalism), but Amy Poehler forever encapsulates my attitude toward life: “Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.” I promise. 

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