What a wild ride it’s been.
Imagine being an awkward, quiet 17-year-old Asian boy walking into a crowded office, and the first person you make eye contact with is Matt Cummings. It was like diving straight into the deep end of a pool before realizing you can’t swim. Yikes.
I applied to the Daily Bruin on a whim, starting my application two days before the deadline and submitting it sometime around 11:50 p.m. the night of.
I’m still not sure why Matt, Claire Fahy, Tanner Walters and Korbin Placet decided to hire me, but I think I fell into the “Eh, why not?” pile of interns. I didn’t have the best resume, the most outgoing personality or even the nicest-sounding voice (you’re welcome, Grant Sugimura).
While they figured out their new class of interns, I was figuring out myself as well.
Who am I? Who do I want to become? What am I doing here? What do I want to accomplish?
When I first started covering the men’s tennis beat as a freshman, I had a totally unjustified air of arrogance, which crumpled like a kite floating in a Category 5 hurricane.
I couldn’t count the number of times my tongue stumbled and spat out gibberish during interviews, or how often I repeated myself because I lost my train of thought in the middle of a question.
Thankfully, I had – and continue to have – a great support group.
Korbin showed me the ropes for seeking out the best stories and how to report them. Men’s tennis coach Billy Martin was patient and understanding, offering me great tidbits and quotes to include in my stories. Many others were kind enough to critique my writing and offer constructive feedback.
Through it all, I learned to embrace the struggle, and to ask for help when I needed it.
The nervousness, the constant sweat and the time commitment were worth the handful of congratulatory texts and Slack messages.
Or so I thought.
There were many moments as an assistant Sports editor when I questioned if the struggle was worth it.
What sustained me – and I’m talking about spiritual nourishment, because eating too much Panda Express and Rubio’s basically ruined the physical side of things – was knowing that our stories were important and well-written.
Everyone in the Sports section, from interns to fellow editors, and upper management pushed me to deliver the best content we could, and for that, I will be grateful for the rest of my life. Thank you Tanner, Anjishnu Das, Emaan Baqai, TuAnh Dam, David Gottlieb and Grant for believing in me.
That’s what I hope I’ll always remember about my time at The Bruin: how all the stories and memories helped shape who I am today.
I think I’ve accomplished a lot over these past four years, but the awards and recognition don’t mean as much to me as the stories I’ve written do. I was fortunate enough to cover an international shoplifting incident, a college athletics admission scandal, and the firing and hiring of both the football and men’s basketball head coaches. Those are the stories and experiences that will stick with me as I age and my head grows balder than that of current men’s basketball coach Mick Cronin.
Nothing’s quite like sitting through a Georgia thunderstorm in the middle of May, covering a tennis match that ended past midnight, and cranking out transcriptions, a wrap and a notebook before heading back to my Airbnb at 3 a.m. to grab a couple hours of sleep before catching a shuttle to the airport.
Nothing can replace the angry phone calls, emails and tweets (Q: Is the Den lit? A: Y e s).
Nothing will supersede the feeling of flying through a football insta-wrap and then half-running down six flights of stairs and across the Rose Bowl grass to make it to the press conference on time.
Through my sojourn in Kerckhoff Hall 118, I’ve learned a lot about myself, and I’m beginning to answer those four questions I asked as a first-year.
Who am I? Who do I want to become?
I’m someone with a voice and the privilege to tell those you-had-to-be-there stories. I want to keep doing so and see where it takes me in life.
What am I doing here? What do I want to accomplish?
I’m writing my final piece for The Bruin and reflecting on these past four years and what they’ve meant to me. I want to look back at this column in 20 years – smile a little, cry a little and recognize how impactful every memory was.
I’ll miss all the content, Design budget meetings, the editing and, yes, even the late runs. I’ll miss the media availabilities, football coach Chip Kelly’s dry sense of humor, Los Angeles Times’ UCLA beat reporter Ben Bolch’s arcane 1980s references and Southern California News Group’s UCLA beat reporter Thuc Nhi Nguyen’s Asian-ness (representation matters!). And last but not least, I’ll miss all the people I had the pleasure of working with. Even Matt Cummings.
Wang was a Sports contributor 2015-16, assistant Sports editor 2016-17 and Daily Bruin senior staff 2017-19.