Andy Stevens

(Courtesy of Andrew Stevens)

It’s been almost four years since I first stepped foot onto the University of Oregon campus. As my senior year passes me by, I’m left to reminisce about the times when I felt like an actual student rather than celebrating this final year.

I don’t know what I’m going to do after graduation, and really that’s no one’s fault but my own. UO and all of my professors have provided me with ample support and opportunity to spread my metaphorical wings and find my calling. Yet, as I write this article — only two weeks from the end of college — I still don’t feel confident in what I’m doing. 

Even though I’m not fully confident in my next steps, I want to acknowledge the people and organizations that have made my college experience what it is. 

During my sophomore year I was eager for ways to get involved in the community, and, as a journalism major, the Daily Emerald seemed like a good option. I applied to be on the opinion desk the summer of 2018 and was accepted that September. Fast forward three years, and here I am, writing my final article.

All my editors and peers on the desk have been wonderful, passionate people that have shown me the power of journalism to not only educate and inform, but also spark joy in the writers and reporters themselves.

I can attribute most of my love for writing to the Emerald. Writing an article on a semi-weekly basis for three years has shown me that I can write about almost anything, and, for the most part, will actually enjoy it.

Apart from writing, it was my friends and peers that made up my college experience. I didn’t join Greek life when many of my friends did and, as a result, felt very alone for parts of my freshman and sophomore years. I know that this feeling of loneliness is nearly universal among college students, but I think acknowledging it is always valuable.

Now I’ve found close friends that I’ll have forever, but I know not everyone is so lucky.

As an underclassman, I was constantly told I would “find my people” eventually. But, in my experience, it wasn’t about the people I found, but the relationships I made. I wouldn’t consider myself a spiritual person, but I believe that you’ll receive the same energy that you put out. I think it’s important to remember that you make friends, you don’t find them.

This last year in the pandemic has really reinforced that it was the people, not the university, that made college what it was.

I’m very unhappy that I have to take my final courses online, but I’m comforted by how much I am able to see my friends as a result. No, I was not at any of the many parties photographed throughout the pandemic, but I don’t condemn the party-goers for their actions. I’ve been enjoying the company of a select group of friends for the last year, and I believe we’ve made memories that wouldn’t have the same impact if not for the circumstances.

I want to thank everyone for everything, but especially the Daily Emerald for giving me the opportunity to put my thoughts out into the world and learn from amazing people.