Goodnight, and good luck

Our fearless leader bids farewell after four long years of service and vision.

Dave DeLuca/The Record

Our fearless leader bids farewell after four long years of service and vision.

Last week, my second to last at Buffalo State and as editor of The Record, I was late arriving home from (another) marathon night producing the paper.

This wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. In three years, you become oddly accustomed to 3 a.m. bedtimes and the wakeup calls that loom several hours later. “Deadline” is midnight, but what good is getting there if you’re not having fun along the way?

It was always worth it. Never did I look back on a layout night with blunder, even if my professors the next morning took exception to the occasional head bob. (I can still feel their glares on my slouching neck.)

Just the same, this night, in almost every way, felt different than the dozens that came before it. I was wide awake, with no intention of heading right off to bed, my mind racing in a way that was unusual even for me.

There is something eerie about preparing to leave behind what has come to be a substantial part of who you’ve become.

As we left the office, a fellow staffer and friend — friends, the most rewarding part of working for the newspaper — asked if my time here went by fast.

You better believe it, I said, grimacing at the sudden realization that, damn, this is it.

I spent the commute home to Cheektowaga reminiscing the memories as they played like a highlight reel through my thoughts.

It seems just last week I was a wide-eyed transfer student without a clue, who just happened to stumble upon what would become the most rewarding experience of my college career.

I remember most vividly walking into the fourth-floor Union office for the first time.

Talk of nut graphs and inverted pyramids among the incumbent staff gathered for the semester’s first meeting was a foreign language. It didn’t matter. Somehow, I knew this was where I belonged. This was it.

This story of course sounds pitifully cheesy, but for a guy who had spent the majority of his life until that very moment searching for a genuine sense of belonging and purpose, you can understand why.

There is nothing more gratifying than finding it — whether you’re 16 or 60 — and it’s something too many take for granted, especially during college in this day and age.

People often ask why I put up with those late nights, spent days off from school and summer months working from this office, dealt with AWOL staff and the headaches that came with juggling part-time job after part-time job to go with all the added coursework, to be sure.

My response has always been simple: Because I love it. (And, admittedly, because I would like someone to pay me for doing what I love so that I can eat.)

I was never a great student in high school, so I knew, if not at first then eventually down the line, that it would take something a little extra for me to get to where I wanted to be.

The best advice anyone has given me is that there will always be someone smarter, someone who can write more elegantly or speak with more conviction. The one variable that is forever within your control is how hard you work to get better.

I hope that sentiment, if nothing else, defines my tenure at The Record.

I’ll never forget transfer orientation several years ago, when the chair of the department stood in front of the incoming students and implored the crowd to quit their jobs. Focus on college, he said. Do anything and everything while in college. Do it while you can. Don’t waste more time than you have to pouring coffees or folding t-shirts.

Join an organization or a group. The campus is full of them. Go see a show or an art gallery. Have a conversation with the random girl sitting next to you.

Ignorantly, I shrugged. I sense that the rest of the room did the same. I loved the money that came with the 40-hour workweeks. My schedule that year was like clockwork, commuting to campus, attending class (most of the time) and leaving immediately for work. That’s no way to spend your time in college, but it’s a paradigm we get caught up in at a commuter-heavy school.

As it turned out, nothing became more valuable than the time I spent on campus. And that time increased each year since to the point where now it’s difficult to get me to leave.

The moral of this story is don’t be too busy to take in the great things that are around you, because they do exist, no matter your opinion of Buffalo State (I have my own grievances).

If I learned one important lesson in college, it’s to take 10 extra minutes out of your day to open your eyes to what is around you. When I did, I saw a vibrant culture of art and music and sports and all these great things that Buffalo State represents.

You don’t have to spend your four years slaving away inside a newspaper office to get this experience. It’s about getting involved, immersing yourself in what is around you and trying new things.

Join an organization or a group. The campus is full of them. Go see a show or an art gallery. Have a conversation with the random girl sitting next to you.

Whatever you do, just don’t limit yourself to the confines of a classroom, a forum that is becoming increasingly inadequate, and give in to status quo.

Just do something.

Oh, and one more thing: Don’t let others be the ones to define Buffalo State for you.

You hear the stigmas and stereotypes. There are tons. A lot of them are true.

But just the same, they don’t have to be.

The greatest part about Buffalo State — and any college, really — is that it can become whatever you make of it. Work as hard as you can, and that alone will separate you from the rest in a way that nothing else can.

Sure, it’s not the Ivy Leagues. It’s not Syracuse or even Canisius. It’s Buffalo State. What does that mean? That’s entirely up to you. And that’s the best part about it.

For me, I head off to graduation content with what I was able to accomplish.

The Record has helped me to work the coolest of jobs and meet even cooler people. If I am fortunate enough to continue to do what I love as I leave Buffalo State behind, I have little doubt it will be entirely due to my time spent working late into the night in a cramped room filled with great friends who shared a bond that will endure long beyond graduation.

One of my favorite lines from any form of literature is by legendary poet Robert Frost. I think it holds true to the feelings many graduating seniors experience as we face the conclusion of college and, hopefully, the beginning of what will become long and fulfilling careers.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep. But I have promises to keep. And miles to go before I sleep.

Good thing I’ve never been one for sleep.


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Twitter: @B_Schlag