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Figuring out the rest of my story

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MAY 10, 2018

During finals week of my freshman year, at the peak of December 2014’s Black Lives Matter protests, I received a late night text from my editors at The Daily Californian asking me to go to Oakland to follow a group that was setting fire to trash cans in the middle of the street.

I was a general assignment news reporter — a newbie, in layman’s terms — so I was filled with an odd mix of terror, excitement and trepidation.

After four years, it’s that adrenaline, paired with the desire to figure out the rest of the story, that made me stay with reporting. I’m glad I did.

It’s been nearly three and a half years since I was a news reporter at the Daily Cal, but every time I step into 2483 Hearst Ave. and see the grotty news department couch or the out-of-context wall quotes, I’m brought back to the late nights spent in the office with friends and fellow reporters, the hours spent fact-checking and the haphazard meals of chips from the vending machine. It’s these memories, too, as well as the friendships forged, that have encouraged me to stay in the field.

In a way, I’ve felt that I’ve outgrown Berkeley. I’ve already internalized what it had to truly offer me, and I’ve shed the rest off like an exoskeletal shell. I would be remiss to say that my time at Berkeley has been smooth sailing, but for whom has it been? I hope that the trials we as students have faced at Berkeley have helped, in some small way, to shape us into the people we are to become. Perhaps it’s these obstacles that we have met head-on — and that we’ve conquered — that will help us calcify into who we truly are to be.

And while learning the art of reporting has come with its own set of trials — getting berated for a correction, missing a deadline and jeopardizing the paper going into print on time — I’ve learned to embrace the mistakes. As clichéd as it may seem, this is how reporters are made.

I suppose that I’ve been taught, as part of the craft, to always push, to be relentless with sources and to be persistent with leads. I think that’s how I’ve also gotten used to thinking about life: that there needs to be some concrete answer and that if I push for something hard enough, it will come, waiting for me to grasp its meaning — or organize it into intelligible sentences and paragraphs.

But if being a student at Berkeley has taught me anything, it’s that this isn’t always the case, and that life after graduation can — and will — probably be anything but predictable. Maybe that’s just part of growing up. Maybe that’s what adds to the allure of Being An Adult — the realization that even when things don’t go your way, you’ll still end up fine.

Before I embark on this whirlwind adventure that is postgraduate life, I have a few individuals who, through it all, have stuck by my side and whom I’d like to give one last thank-you to before I go:

The spring 2016 news editing team (Andrea, Alex, Ivana, Katy, Suhauna), truly a powerhouse team — thank you for teaching me how good teamwork and persistence can create a beautiful product. Each one of you has served as an inspiration and will continue to do so.

Sonja, who would have guessed that a fateful night and a bottle of spilled vodka later, you would become my first friend at college? You are the best friend I truly needed at Berkeley — thank you for being that literally since day one. I can’t wait to see what you accomplish in the years to come.

Rachel and Sally, I’m so grateful that we’ve become our own family, especially in a place like Berkeley that can leave you feeling lonely at times. Thank you for being my home away from home.

Amy, Brenna, Ilana and Rachael, you all made 2311 Prospect my home. Thanks for the love and all of the hype texts.

Patrick, you came into my life at an odd time, and I’m glad that you did. I always will be.

And to Mom and Dad, thank you for being my constant support system and for never ceasing to tell me that everything will be OK. I love you both, and I hope I’ve made you proud.

After graduation, I’m going to be taking another stab at journalism. There’s no time like the present to support your local newsroom — buy a subscription, donate and read. And of course, college papers such as the Daily Cal and many others around the country are producing great work. Nothing is more important than helping to cultivate and train our next generation of reporters, right now more than ever.

Adrienne Shih joined The Daily Californian in fall 2014 as a news reporter before becoming the lead city reporter in spring 2015, an assistant news editor in fall 2015 and the executive city news editor in spring 2016. She is graduating with bachelor’s degrees in political economy and legal studies.

MAY 12, 2018