To every ending, there is always a new beginning
By MARLON ROLON
It was a cold January night in Reno, Nevada — my family and I were eating dinner inside Panda Express after a long three-hour drive to the Silver State. At that moment, I was feeling unsettled, as I felt that my life had no direction. After all, I was working a dead-end job in Berkeley after putting my education on hold; after two years in community college, I elected to take a year off to make some sort of income to help pay the bills (as they say, money doesn’t grow on trees). A year turned into three years and by this point, I felt stuck, I had to pay rent and it’s not like I could just quit my job. Life doesn’t work that way, or does it?
Anyway, as I was sitting on the slightly uncomfortable red chair inside Panda Express, I came across those traditional fortune cookies that come with your meal. I for one don’t like the taste of them but my curiosity to find out what sort of message awaited me led me to break the stale cookie in half — or perhaps I was just desperate for a glimmer of hope.
Suddenly, I felt paralyzed by the resonating message that read “Avoid unchallenging occupations — they waste your talents.” Was this simple message conveyed by the universe during a time when I desperately needed some guidance? I took the message to heart, and from this point on, I learned to understand the unspoken language of the universe which completely changed the trajectory of my life.
Three months later, the pandemic hit and put the world on pause. Classes became remote and as bad as it sounds, it couldn’t have happened at a better time. This meant that I could continue working while taking online classes that I needed to transfer. I took this as another sign from the universe, it was now or never. I registered at Contra Costa City College in the summer of 2020 and completed the required courses that I needed by the end of the fall semester (I had no idea that I had two semesters left of CC). Finally, the dominos were starting to fall into place and for the first time in a long time, I felt a jubilant relief.
A few months went by and I finally heard back from the colleges that I applied to. Ultimately, UC Davis wasn’t a difficult choice to make. The proximity provided comfort, the rural town fit perfectly with my personality and best of all, I could pursue sports journalism through The Aggie. As soon as I arrived in Davis, I received an email for an interview from one of the nicest people I’ve ever met (this still rings true today), Margo Rosenbaum, who at the time was the managing editor. A few days later I was hired as a staff writer on the sports desk and was quickly introduced to the sports editor — the most knowledgeable sports enthusiast I’ve ever come across, Omar Novarro.
I had no trouble settling in due to my previous journalism experience — I was a sports photographer, photo editor and writer at Chabot College. That experience definitely gave me the confidence to excel as a student journalist. However, The Aggie would challenge me in ways that I never imagined. Naturally, I’m a shy, quiet person and interviewing coaches and student-athletes in Division 1 programs was an entirely new experience, but I loved it. Being under the bright lights of UC Davis Health Stadium during the cold nights in the fall made me feel at home, where I belonged.
Through The Aggie, I rediscovered my love for storytelling after it was dormant for so many years. Covering sports and creating narratives about games and players fulfilled me and filled a void that I so deeply desired. As the year went on, my passion grew by each game and each article and before I knew it, my first academic year in Davis (and my third year as a transfer student) was coming to an end. Before the year closed though, I transitioned into the assistant editor role, which was short-lived.
In my senior year, I took on the role and responsibilities of the sports editor. I embraced the new challenges that came attached to that role, and if I’m being honest it was overwhelming at first. But I kept in mind the subliminal message inside that fortune cookie that led me to Davis — I had to face a new challenge to test my talents. Then again, Omar left some big shoes to fill, and I questioned whether I could fit into them.
The best advice Omar gave me was “Just trust yourself.” It took some time for me to develop that inner trust, but when I did, I realized that I didn’t have to be like my previous editor, I could be myself. As time went on, I adapted to my responsibilities and I couldn’t be happier to work in this position. Working with so many talented writers during Editorial Board meetings, reading and editing the amazing content produced by The Aggie’s writers at the sports desk and all the incredible stories from my peers on the editorial staff helped me become a better writer.
My two years at The Aggie have been amazing and I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything in the world. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunities this job has provided, from covering collegiate sports to professional sports and from interviewing talented college athletes to some of my favorite professional soccer players. These experiences wouldn’t have been possible without The Aggie, but that’s not even the best part. Meeting new people and establishing friendships is what I’ll take away as the best experience. It is true what they say about Davis, the nicest people you’ll ever meet go here.
Looking back at my time here, I realize how much I’m going to miss this town. From the lingering smell of cows that I’ve grown used to, to the warm weather, beautiful campus, the small cozy office located on 116 A Street, the long studying sessions that I spent at Shields Library during my first year, the many nights I spent inside The University Union Credit Center and UC Davis Health Stadium, to the many afternoons I spent at La Rue Field. If I had a choice to do it all over again, I wouldn’t think twice about it, I’d choose UC Davis in a heartbeat. They say home is where the heart is and this place holds a special place in my heart.
I dislike goodbyes because goodbye means we won’t ever see each other again and that’s not true so with that being said, I’ll stick to see you later. Omar, thank you for everything you ever did for me during my first year in Davis. Without your guidance, I would have never been able to manage through interviews or even write articles. You instilled the confidence in me to trust myself and to trust the process. Whenever I had a question or needed help you were always kind enough to point me in the right direction, even ‘to this day you remain a great friend. From poking fun at each other about our favorite teams’ results to just talking about sports, you’ve been someone I can always count on.
Thank you to everyone on the Editorial Board, aka the grammar patrol. Sophie, Katie, Sonora, Clara (Fischer), Owen, Levi, Chris, and Brandon, I’ve enjoyed working with all of you so much. Each of you is an extremely talented writer but an even better person and friend. Our time together was short-lived but I truly appreciate all the time we spent together in Ed Board meetings that came with all the laughs during our editing sessions. I especially love how united we were as a collective and how much we supported one another.
Lastly, to my lifelong best friend Martiza from back home, thank you for playing an instrumental role in my life. You’ve inspired me to reach for the stars and imprinted my mind with the belief that dreams don’t just happen while you’re asleep, they happen while you’re awake if you act on them. I’ll never forget the first time I came home from Davis after failing my first exam, I felt like it was the end of the world and you were the first one there for support. Before every exam, you would text me “Good luck, you’ll do great,” and those times when I was overwhelmed you would push me to stay up all night to write my articles and essays and study. These little things meant the world to me. Thank you, because I couldn’t have done this without you.
While it makes me sad to know that I’m nearing the end of my journey here at UC Davis, I also feel accomplished because I poured my heart and soul into every article. I can honestly look back and say I left it all on the field, I have no regrets during my time here. It’s been quite the journey to get to this point, but even when times looked bleak, I worked hard to climb over the hurdles that life presented along the way. After two short years, I’ll walk away knowing how to understand the unspoken language of the universe which has guided me throughout my time here: life works in mysterious ways sometimes. In my case, who would’ve known that a simple innocent cookie would change my life forever? Just because I’m done writing this article doesn’t mean I’m done writing my story. Just flip the page and read my next chapter, wherever that may be.
Written by: Marlon Rolon
Marlon Rolon is The California Aggie’s current sports editor. He joined The Aggie in September 2021 as a sports staff writer and took on the role of assistant sports editor in the spring 2022, serving in that role until becoming sports editor in June of that same year. He is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Communication and a minor in Chicana/Chicano Studies.