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Tuesday, June 11, 2024

A long-winded love letter to stories

That’s all she wrote (not actually I’ve just always wanted to say that)

 

By KATIE DEBENEDETTI

 

At some point, someone has probably lied to you and told you that if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. This definitely isn’t true. But I will admit, I have spent the last four years telling everyone I talk to that I would work for The Aggie for free. That probably is true. Because as cliché as it sounds, doing work that’s really a hobby, with coworkers who are more like friends, in a place that has come to feel like home, is pretty ideal. 

At my high school graduation, my mom gave me a piece of advice in the form of her favorite quote, which reads: “Fall in Love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.” And while I can’t say I agree with her use of the Oxford comma, I do wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment of the message.

Over the past four years, I’ve fallen in love with The Aggie — its publication, its people, and, yes, its free parking spot (thank you A Street office). While I’m not sure this is exactly what the quote — or my mom — meant, I can say that my Aggie experience truly has decided everything. 

Through covering local events and stories, I’ve seen parts of Davis’s city and campus I never would have ventured to, like the STEM facilities and the ARC. On managing staff, I’ve met some of the best friends I could have asked for, like Sophie, my partner in crime, Anjini and Margo, the dynamic duo that set a great example for us, and two amazingly curious, funny and kind Editorial Boards. 

While sending Slack messages and Doodle Polls definitely does feel like work, spending upwards of five hours a week at Ed Board deciding what contexts we should use “where” in and whether “which” is a better-fitting transition never does. I feel so grateful for getting to serve on the Editorial Board for the past two years, and can honestly say that I don’t think there’s ever been a meeting I’ve dreaded going to or left feeling unhappy. And while I am certainly going to miss long days in the office, even when there’s no working light and the alarm system we don’t have is beeping every 10 seconds, I know that The Aggie is in very capable hands. 

I also know that even though I won’t get to write for The Aggie for much longer, I’ll stay in love with what it has given me long after I graduate. Let me explain. My favorite part of journalism is getting to hear and tell stories about what people love, what makes them tick so to speak. Whether it’s climate activism or tea, stand-up comedy or bike repairs, when someone is really passionate about a thing, it shows, and it allows the rest of us to understand that thing, and maybe more importantly, that person, in a different way. 

For a while, I think I thought about writing for The Aggie as the way I would find my thing. Like, one day, I would be writing a story and hear about an on-campus club or someone’s super niche major (like my amazing Freshman year roommate who literally studied global diseases during the whole pandemic) and decide, ‘here it is!’” But as time went on, no matter how much I enjoyed learning from my sources and listening to their stories, that moment never came.

I’m a bit embarrassed to say, it wasn’t until earlier this year when I took an introductory fiction writing class that I really realized that storytelling was that thing for me — and that I had said ‘this is it’ a looooong time ago. When I wandered down to the basement of Lower Freeborn on my first Friday of college ever, desperately looking for something to be a part of on a huge campus — and for the office where my interview was, because Lower Freeborn is a maze I’m still not sure I can navigate — I was asked to write a fake news story about the new prices of Unitrans bus fares. This probably sounds like the most boring assignment ever, but I loved it. 

Since then, I’ve gotten to tell some objectively more exciting stories — like those of teachers navigating online and hybrid learning during the pandemic, the all-female Friday crew at the Bike Barn and a group of researchers and study participants involved in a a first-of-its-kind male contraceptive trial — but  I’ll always remember writing about that $0.10 increase of the L line fare (which is thankfully entirely fictional by the way). 

I’m known for being long-winded, so I think it’s best if I end this column before it gets completely off course, but not before a few final thanks. Thank you, The Aggie, for all of the boring and exciting stories, the amazing friendships and all of the experiences along the way. Even though my time writing and editing these stories might be done, I always said I would do this work for free, so be careful Sonora, you might catch me lurking in Google Drive for years to come. 

 

Written by: Katie DeBenedetti 

 

Katie DeBenedetti is The California Aggie’s current managing editor. She joined The Aggie in September 2019 as a features staff writer and took on the role of assistant features editor in the spring of 2021. In June of 2021, she joined the Editorial Board as the features editor. She became the managing editor in June 2022. She is graduating with honors with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a double minor in environmental policy analysis and planning and professional writing.