I’ve never been someone with a lot of school spirit, so campus involvement never crossed my mind. It wasn’t until my junior year of undergrad that I knew I had to start building up my journalism portfolio, so I sought out the campus paper, The Daily Cougar.
At this point I had very few friends. I had lost touch with everyone from high school because we just weren’t the same people, and long distance exacerbated our differences. My roommates from freshman year and I didn’t have as much in common as previously thought, and it’s just hard to make friends when you’re not in multiple classes with the same people.
When I came in to interview to be a writer for the paper I was nervous. I had only written one journalism story and the office was busy. I looked at all of these other students who looked like they knew what they were doing and I was intimidated. When I was told they’d love to have me and assigned me my first story I was surprised at how easy it was to join.
That’s the thing, joining an on campus organization is so easy that the biggest hurdle is finding one to join.
My first year there I learned a lot, and while I didn’t come away from that year with a ton of friends that summer an entirely new team of editorial board members came in. Little did I know that these people were going to be the group that I had been looking for my entire college career.
This new team worked really well together. We were all passionate about journalism, photography, politics and on top of it we all had similar senses of humor. We won a scavenger hunt as a team building exercise, went to media events together and made memes of one another.
Now, three and a half years later, I still consider them my best friends. Although the last time we saw one another was Halloween, (thanks, Omicron) we have a group chat that’s updated regularly, have been through major life events with one another, like job changes, graduate school graduations, moving in with a boyfriend and one of them getting a dog we all love dearly.
Even outside of my core group of friends, The Daily Cougar brought me a friend whose wedding I was in, another who I simply just love to death and more that I’m getting to know because the Cooglife office is right next to The Cougar’s.
All of the people I have met are the people that I imagine as my bridesmaids, seeing pictures of their babies and being friends with until I’m old and gray.
If I had decided to take a different route and instead of joining The Daily Cougar in 2018 I applied for internships, joined a different Center for Student Media organization or something else altogether, I wouldn’t be as happy and loved as I am today. The people that I met through getting involved on campus not only opened my eyes to a side of UH I had never known about, but they’ve become some of the people I love most in this world.
Joining The Daily Cougar was also how I ended up here, as the executive editor of Cooglife. This position has given me skills that I previously had no interest in, helped me branch out as a writer and given me even more opportunties to discover myself.
If you’ve ever thought about joining an on campus organization, or any program, I urge you to do it. You may find your lifelong friends you never even knew existed, and even if you don’t you will better yourself along the way.