Senior column: Dana D’Amico

The day that I decided to quit The Campus, I had been a staff photographer for just one semester. As I sat on the couch to announce my resignation, I was interrupted with the news that the only other photographer had suffered a woodworking accident that afternoon and that I –as the last qualified staff member still in possession of all ten fingers –was now also the only one still capable of pressing the shutter button.

So began three years of weekly layout marathons, during which time I served as editor of photography, design and, most recently, science. And all I can think now is how thankful I am (lost fingers aside) that I didn’t quit when I had the chance.

I joined the news staff as part of a self-imposed challenge to overcome personal and academic introversion. Challenge it was –a challenge to work under pressure of deadline, to assume another commitment in a sea of commitments, to seek out sources and tell their stories well. But it was a worthwhile challenge, with the biggest kind of payoff that I could imagine.

As science editor, I’ve learned about research in fields completely different than my own and had the privilege of speaking to interesting people about the things that matter most to them. As design editor, I’ve gotten free pass to create in a different, completely visual way. I’ve become a better writer, a confident editor. I’ve discussed my articles over coffee and met faculty and students who I wouldn’t otherwise have known.

Most of all I’ve come to realize that these kinds of experiences are what I will seek after I graduate, when I’ll pack up and move away to study science writing in Minnesota — a place somehow colder than Meadville.

Now that it’s time for me to leave (to quit, by force, with all of my fingers still attached) I want to say thank you to the faculty, students, and community members who have supported us. To advisers past (Caley Cook) and present (Cheryl Hatch). To the extraordinarily driven group of students who, without pay or credit, have pieced together an impressive product every single week.

I also want to say to my peers that if you believe that something can be better, care enough to change it. Create your own opportunity, and promote what you love.

I found what I love during my time at The Campus, in part by creating what I wanted to see. For me, it was a space to promote science literacy through the campus and community.

Whatever your passion may be, I hope that you take time to pursue it. I hope that you consider The Campus as medium for your goal. I hope that you, like me, stumble into a life-changing experience by happy accident, and that it grabs onto you and never lets you go.

Dana D’Amico was awarded a year-long graduate fellowship from the University of Minnesota, where she will study as an MFA candidate in creative nonfiction in the fall.