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The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Shining bright at The Star

Photo Courtesy of Preethi Mangadu
Texas State journalism senior Haley Velasco poses with her stories, Friday, Nov. 24, 2023, at the Trinity Building.

I began my college adventures in the midst of a pandemic in August 2020. I came to Texas State with the expectation that I would learn some college lessons in an isolating style. I keep some of the most embarrassing, humbling and tragic lessons to myself, but the one I think has made my college journey worthwhile is the beautiful lesson of sucking it up and moving forward.

For the first half of college, I was right about learning and growing in an isolating way. I didn’t make any friends; I ate many dinners alone and my mom was the only person I spoke to on a daily basis. For a while, I enjoyed growing independently and getting to know myself, until I learned how much I hated seeing other people around me, constantly in groups, making memories and having the college experience that I longed for.

I ended up applying to Commons Dining Hall to try making friends. I didn’t have much luck, and it didn’t help that the uniform looked ugly on me. Nevertheless, I sucked it up for a while and continued swiping students’ Bobcat cards at the front of the dining hall. Eventually, I made one friend at Commons, and things started looking up. That was until I found out my dog was sick.

For a week, I would finish my shift, go to Starbucks with my new friend and go back to my dorm to cry about what may come. Eventually, my mom told me that we may have to put him down during the Thanksgiving break.

The weekend before Thanksgiving break, I decided to drive back home to see my dog before revisiting the next week to potentially say my final goodbye. I got up early to go with my mom to drop him off at the vet for a wellness check. After dropping him off, I decided to take a nap, excited that when I woke up, we would pick him up and spend more time together.

Instead, I was woken up with the news that he died at the vet of a heart attack. Instead of going back to the vet to pick him up, I was going to say my final goodbye.

The day after my dog died, I had an interview with the University Writing Center to be a writing consultant. I wanted nothing to do with that interview, so I revisited my lesson of sucking it up and moving forward. I eventually got the job, and I was above the moon, with no one else to thank but my new guardian angel, Rascal.

I loved my new job, but I knew I could do much more, so I looked no further than the Life and Arts Reporter application for The University Star.

After being hired, I was so nervous to get into it. Interview people every other week? Write content for a large audience? Turn stories into Sarah “The AP Stylebook” Hernandez?

Before my first interview, I reminded myself to suck it up and move forward. I continued to do this for the next 20 interviews, until I was finally comfortable speaking to strangers and getting to know them for the sake of a feature story.

By fall 2022, I chose to apply for the Assistant Life and Arts Editor position, and soon enough, the wonderful Marisa Nuñez decided to hire me. I was now partially in charge of a talented team of contributors and reporters, and it was terrifying. Nevertheless, I sucked it up and moved forward.

As the spring semester came to a close, I decided to take on the role of the Life and Arts Editor. If I wasn’t already horrified before, I was definitely horrified now. As exhausting and stressful as being editor was, I wouldn’t have this experience any other way. Because I decided to suck it up and move forward long ago, I was rewarded with achieving more than I expected I would when I first walked into Butler Hall and cried as my parents gave me their goodbye hug. More than I expected after my dog died. And more than I expected after hitting the submit button for my Life and Arts Reporter application.

I have now written more than 40 stories for The University Star, a couple of them winning “Editor’s Pick” and a couple more being published in the Austin American-Statesman. I also won Life and Arts Reporter of the Year for 2023.

Through these achievements, I’d like to thank my mom, the strongest and greatest role model to ever exist, and my dad for showing me the importance of never giving up. I’d like to thank my brother Alex, my absolute best friend, for maybe not reading my stories but keeping copies of The Star in his room, specifically the ones where I made the front page. I’d like to thank my roommates Hatlyn and Alizzah for enlightening me on the theater world and making me do script readings of the pilot episode of “New Girl.” Along with my roommate Preethi, my first friend at Texas State, for being a listening ear and a silent, crazy competitor at KTSW. I’d like to thank my Managing Editor Nichaela Shaheen and Editor-in-Chief Carson Weaver for allowing me to write to my heart’s content and unknowingly giving me a huge burst of confidence and belonging. Lastly, I’d like to thank Marisa for showing me the ropes of Life and Arts and doing so beautifully.

I will miss the section meetings, submitting stories on a weekly basis and Nichaela’s smirk that I could feel across the room on production day. I will miss The Star, but I will forever and always be grateful for the amazing opportunity that I was given. As sad as I am to leave, I’m here to remind myself again to suck it up and move forward. There is much more to come.

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