To be honest, I’ve been avoiding writing this senior column for weeks now simply because I refuse to believe that four years of college have already flown by. Maybe it’s because I’m a nostalgic person and like to relish the past or maybe it’s because I haven’t had the chance to properly say goodbye to everyone before this chapter of my life closes, or maybe it’s both. Either way, I can confidently say this: I am not ready to say goodbye.

The fact that I may never step foot on Binghamton University’s campus again boggles my mind, especially since some days I wake up and still think I’m the same wide-eyed, eager freshman who was ready to take on the world and its uncertainties. Boy, was I completely naive back then. These past four years have been nothing less than stressful and chaotic, though it’s weird to say that I wouldn’t want it any other way.

When I first committed to BU my senior year of high school, I was so pumped to experience what felt like restarting my life and moving away where no one from my hometown would recognize me. Funny enough, that first weekend of my freshman year I saw someone from my high school at a frat party.

The first time I broke the news to my parents that I wanted to go to BU, they were pretty confused. Rutgers University was only 30 minutes away by car and a cheaper option, though my stubborn persona refused to stay in New Jersey for college. When I told my parents I wanted to go to BU and major in English, they nearly had a heart attack. Okay, heart attack is a little dramatic, but they were less than thrilled that their first-generation Chinese American daughter was choosing to major in something that requires you to read old English literature and write essays on its importance. As of today, I’m still confused as to why I had to take an entire class on Shakespeare to graduate when all I wanted was to study journalism, but shoutout to Professor John Kuhn for making it one of my favorite classes I’ve taken throughout college!

Majoring in English seemed like a huge financial gamble, especially since I was already paying out-of-state tuition, though I refused to let myself fail, especially in front of my family. The first thing I told myself I would do when I stepped onto BU’s campus was join the school newspaper, and that’s when my Pipe Dream career unfolded.

When I walked into Pipe Dream’s office for the first time, I was terrified of the seemingly professional-looking college students sitting behind their desks and furiously typing away on their keyboards. I had never written an actual article before in my life, though I knew I had to start somewhere if I wanted to pursue a journalism career. I applied to be a writer for the Arts & Culture section and spent hours writing and editing my application to perfection. It’s safe to say that I almost cried tears of joy when I got an acceptance email back. Writing has always been a hobby that stuck with me since I was able to pick up a pencil and formulate my own thoughts. Now, I was able to prove to not only my family, but also myself, that I could flip this hobby into a full-fledged career.

If I hadn’t mustered up the courage to go to that Pipe Dream general interest meeting (GIM) and apply to be a writer, I have no idea where I would be in my life right now, but I am certain I wouldn’t be nearly as confident and hardworking as I am now. Pipe Dream taught me how to be a student journalist without a journalism school or even a communications department. It taught me how to be confident in my own abilities and strive for nothing less than perfection. Four years ago, I never imagined that my shy, soft-spoken self would be running BU’s student-run newspaper along with one of my dearest friends and coworkers, Sasha Hupka. It feels good to say that all those sleepless, eight-hour workdays in the office were worth it in the end. The joy I felt every time I saw a student on campus picking up a copy of our paper validated that all the hard work wasn’t wasted.

Thank you, Pipe Dream, for giving me the opportunity to pursue a career that I never thought was worth pursuing until I stepped foot into your office. And thank you to everyone in Pipe Dream for making this experience worthwhile. As for everyone else who impacted my college experience, don’t worry, your shoutouts are coming!

Mom and Dad, sorry that after years of after-school math tutoring, I am still horrible at math and never got to become a successful engineer or doctor. But hey, at least I can write you a heartfelt and somewhat well-written shoutout in my senior column! Jokes aside, I can’t thank you guys enough for letting me follow my passion of writing and encouraging me to never give up, even though it was rough in the beginning. The first time you told me you were proud of me for an article I had written, I embarrassingly cried in my room and screenshotted the text, which I still have to this day. I hope to always make you proud as I grow into a better version of myself every day.

Sasha, where do I even begin? The first time I met you was when I was unexpectedly thrown into the position of Arts & Culture Editor my junior year. I was terrified of being a new face in the office, but you were the first person to welcome me with open arms and offered helping me out on my first production night. Honestly, I had no idea what I was doing that night, and without you, I would’ve probably had a panic attack in that office trying to figure out what I was supposed to do. Fast forward a year, and now we’re the heads of Pipe Dream. Who would’ve thought that we would be running this newspaper together during our senior year? This year for Pipe Dream has honestly been a living hell, but we made it out alive and stronger than ever. I wouldn’t want to have late-night crying hours or venting sessions with anyone else. You’re going to do amazing things at UC Berkeley and after, when you’re a successful reporter. Just don’t forget me when you’re famous!

Maryam, I can’t believe we only got close this year. I wish I had met you sooner so we could’ve partaken in more office shenanigans together. When I first met you last year, I had no idea you would become such a close friend of mine. I still find it hilarious that we were both intimidated by each other before we met because we’re honestly the softest people alive. Thank you for accepting me for who I am and laughing at all of my dumb jokes. Smash tournament once quarantine is over?

Ariel and Jeremy, the future leaders of Pipe Dream. You guys will kill it as Managing Editor and Editor-in-Chief, I just know it. You’re both so bright and full of potential, and I know Pipe Dream is in great hands. If you guys ever need anything, please know that Sasha and I are only a phone call away. We’ll always be there for you guys, no matter where we are in life. Never hesitate to reach out. Remember that nothing is permanent. Making mistakes is inevitable, but keep in mind that they’re also stepping stones to becoming better.

My section neighbors, aka design, thank you for keeping me sane every production night. Kade, I’m going to miss our 11 p.m. vending machine runs for coffee and cookies and annoying you about my art classes. Going on that day trip to Cornell with Sasha will always be a memory I won’t forget. Miko, I’m going to miss hearing about you and your love for Kanye, which I still do not understand. All of you guys are so talented at what you do and I can’t wait to see where you end up in the future. Thank you, design section, for all the late nights and laughter.

Gabby, Pat and Cali, I am so happy that you guys took over Arts & Culture this year. I always said that Arts & Culture was my baby and I missed it every day (I still do), but I was able to rest peacefully knowing it was in your guys’ hands. Arts has grown so much as a section because of all of you and your creative and ambitious ideas. When choosing who I wanted to take over the section, I just knew that it had to be you three. I can tell you guys really love the section just as much as I did.

To Nikki and Shauna, my old Arts & Culture section. Thank you for letting me lead Arts and believing in my abilities. I miss you guys and I know you’ll both be successful no matter where you end up in the future.

Georgia, I can’t believe it’s already been two years since you’ve graduated. It didn’t feel right writing this without thanking you for everything you’ve done for me when you were Arts editor and I was just an intern. You believed in my abilities and gave me the amazing opportunity to be the next leader of a section that I absolutely loved.

Emily, Bridget and Noah, I don’t understand how you dealt with Sasha and I constantly messaging you guys for advice, but thank you for always being readily available to help us out. Also, thank you for teaching us how to be great leaders of Pipe Dream and everything that we know now. I hope we made you guys proud.

Kayla, I feel so lucky that I met you my freshman year even though we had one of the roughest freshman year experiences ever. Honestly, it could’ve been made into a drama or reality TV show (which we always like to joke about). All the tears shed were worth it, though, because I was able to meet you and become such close friends. I don’t even know how to express how grateful I am to have you in my life as one of my best friends. Thank you for always being there for me through thick and thin and for being my better half. I still love you even though you think Central Jersey doesn’t exist (it does).

Sidney, can you believe we’re already graduating college? Remember that time in C4 when we were kind of friends but still too awkward to sit next to each other while eating lunch, so we waved and sat at separate tables? Wow, look at us now! Thank you for dealing with me for so many years and being one of my closest friends. I honestly don’t have a lot to say because I know we’ll be seeing each other soon in the city. I can’t wait for more shenanigans!

Santino, the first time I met you my freshman year, I instantly felt welcomed because of how friendly and welcoming you were. I still don’t think I’ve ever met someone as caring and genuine as you are. Thank you for being such a good friend to me and listening to my late-night rants. Never stop being your fun, crazy self.

To the Chinese American Student Union (CASU), I’m not sure if you guys read Pipe Dream, but you should because I’m giving you a shoutout! Joining CASU my sophomore year was something way outside of my comfort zone, though I’m glad I pushed myself to apply as an intern. I have to admit, I was intimidated by all of you when I walked into my interview for the first time, but now I can confidently say that each and every one of you has shaped my college career for the better. Thanks for all the wild nights, Poconos trips and late-night bonding sessions. I’m so excited for next year’s e-board and what you guys will accomplish. Please invite me to next year’s Poconos trip though, okay?

And finally, to everyone who has supported Pipe Dream, thank you for allowing us to give a voice to our campus community. College may seem small in the grand scheme of things, but this is still your community, and people have a lot to say.

Katy Wong is a senior majoring in English and managing editor. She was arts & culture editor in 2018-19.