Last week, on The Daily’s last production night of the volume, I stayed until the paper was completely finished — at 5:31 a.m.
I could have left the office much earlier. I had finished my three baseball articles sometime between midnight and 1 a.m., and as a writer I had no obligation to stick around. Plus, I had been working off only three hours of sleep.
But I wanted to stay until the very end of production, no matter how late it was or how tired I would be the next day. I needed to take in every last moment — my last chance to argue with my editors over sentence structure, to advocate for punny headlines, to watch as my writing is inserted into the Quark file with the next day’s paper — in the place that’s become my home.
Looking back on my time at Stanford, I can confidently say that nothing has shaped my experience as much as The Stanford Daily. And knowing I’m about to leave the place that has determined my career trajectory, given me some of my closest friends and made me into the person I am today scares me more than leaving Stanford itself.
Over the past four years, my friendships have shifted. I have too often felt uninspired or burned out by my academic work, and I have become increasingly jaded about Stanford’s values and whether they align with my own.
Yet the one constant through it all has been that I always had The Daily, and, by and large, it has never let me down.
The Daily was where I fell in love with journalism and specifically sportswriting, which I intend to pursue as my career. The staff encouraged writers to take ownership of their work, allowing me to become a beat writer for one of the nation’s top women’s basketball teams my freshman fall, to be promoted to a desk editor by that winter and to cover my first national championship (women’s water polo!) in the spring.
Then, my editors took a chance and chose me to run the sports section as a sophomore. My friends will tell you that The Daily made me extraordinarily stressed that year, but serving as sports editor was by far the most rewarding and fun experience I’ve had at Stanford. And when I was ready for a different role, The Daily gave me the freedom and support to try writing a biweekly sports column, to join the Editorial Board, to report for the news section and to put together The Daily’s 125th anniversary celebration. Through it all, my peers pushed me to produce my best work in a nurturing environment where I learned from some of the most thoughtful and innovative journalists of any college paper in the country.
The Daily was also the place where I formed some of my deepest friendships with people that I may have never met otherwise. We were a conglomeration of students spanning across class years, academic interests and career pursuits (unlike me, most people aren’t even considering going into journalism). But there is a special bond that emerges when a bunch of young and dumb college kids disregard their schoolwork and come together to produce a newspaper five nights a week — and in knowing that we, a bunch of 18-to-22 year-olds, could tell some critical, funny, thought-provoking and inspiring stories about one of the most complex yet fascinating institutions in the world.
The late nights putting together the paper that would become early mornings — though excruciating at the time — were always secretly my favorites. We’d make a run to Starbucks or the Axe and Palm before they closed for the night, edit as our eyes struggled to stay open, throw around a football in the street at 3 a.m. as we waited for Duran to finish laying out the paper. When we finally sent the pages to the printer and got word that they had been received, we’d collapse in exhaustion and relief. We had put out another paper that day.
And, by that time, it wasn’t rare for the sun to have already come up and for us (i.e. me) to just throw in the towel and crash on one of the couches in the office.
Walking into The Stanford Daily building, or The House as we call it, always felt like putting on a cape that gave me superpowers. When I was there, I had purpose. I had a community that had my back. I felt inspired, invincible and whole.
Now, I’m finally leaving this place and these people behind. Or, more precisely, time is forcibly kicking me out.
As all the “lasts” have come and gone — my last editor-in-chief election, my last banquet, my last night of production, my last sports article — I’ve started to question who I am without The Daily. I’ve feared that, in leaving it, I’m leaving behind one of the most integral pieces of myself, one that has been part of me during the most formative years of my life.
I’ve realized I was wrong to look at it that way, though. In a way, I am indeed leaving behind a piece of myself when I leave The Daily — but it’s a legacy of 176 bylines, the Volume 248 sports section, the [email protected] alumni event, interviews with Olympians, a Q&A with the former president of Estonia, coverage of national championships and the recall of Judge Persky, and so much more that I can’t even remember.
And though I’m leaving The Daily, I’ll be bringing it, and all the people whom I’ve met there, along for the ride that is life. In other words, I get to pack my cape with me.
After all, it’s The Daily that was my training ground for what I intend to do for the rest of my life. It’s The Daily that has given me friendships that I know won’t evaporate even when we no longer share 456 Panama Mall as our home. And it’s The Daily that has taught me to question authority, to never back down from a challenge, to follow your heart, to empower others and to always have faith in yourself and your ability to make an impact.
For the rest of my life, I’ll be supported by the people and The House that built me. It’s okay for me to now let go.
Contact Alexa Philippou at aphil723 ‘at’ stanford.edu.