I joined Pipe Dream on a whim. When I went to University Fest in the fall of my freshman year, Binghamton University’s independent student newspaper was the furthest thing from my mind, but after signing up for about 15 other clubs, I found myself walking by Pipe Dream’s stand on my way out. I decided to put my name down, but I didn’t think I would get involved with the paper. I turned out to be wrong.

Later that semester, I found myself on the Sports section as a contributor. I was happy as a contributor, and I wanted to stay as one. So when Sam, the Sports Editor at the time, talked to the section about a Sports internship, I told myself that I had no desire to apply. I didn’t want to take on a lot of extra work alongside my course load, but more importantly, I didn’t think I’d get the position. I was an inexperienced freshman who had written but a few articles, and there were contributors who had much more seniority than me. There was no way they’d take me on. But I applied anyway on the day of the deadline and I turned out to be wrong.

In my sophomore year, when I was offered the Sports Editor position, I initially turned it down. Frankly, I thought it was a lot of responsibility and I didn’t think I could handle it. I didn’t think I could be an effective leader, and I didn’t think I could handle the pressure of being the final say on any key decision the section made. But I thought long and hard about it, and I spoke to my parents about it, and in the end, I reluctantly took the job. I wasn’t sure that I would do a good job, but once again, I turned out to be wrong.

As I come close to graduation, I can’t help but think about how I almost didn’t make it to where I am right now. Being on staff at Pipe Dream has been the most rewarding aspect of my college career, but had I said no on any of those three occasions, I would have missed out on it all. Saying no would have been easy — saying no is always the easy route to take, but rarely is it the most gratifying.

Every time I wavered, it was because I feared making a change and taking on new challenges. I was comfortable with where I was, and didn’t want to risk venturing out into new, uncharted territory. But rarely can someone get anything valuable out of life by remaining comfortable. There are always greater heights to achieve, and there will always be a ladder waiting to bring you there. I’m so glad I took every opportunity to climb it. Now, as a senior who just finished up his law school applications, I can look back down at where I was as a freshman and see how high I climbed, and that is the most rewarding feeling of all.

None of what I accomplished in college would have been possible without the help of so many loved ones who helped and supported me every step of the way. First and foremost, to Mom, Dad, Miki and the rest of my amazing family, you have all been by my side since day one. No one else in my life makes me feel as happy or as loved as you all do, and no one makes me smile as much. I couldn’t have asked for a better family to be a part of.

Alana, I’m so glad that we met on the bus in high school all those years ago. You know you have a strong friendship with someone when you still talk to them every week four years after you graduated high school. It’s been a long time since we attended the same school, but you still feel like a sister to me. I can’t wait for the next time we get to meet up in person and enjoy some Friendlier’s while watching TV in my den. I’m so grateful to be able to call you my best friend.

Sarah, I feel so lucky that you and I ended up at the same college. Between having lunch every day in the senior lounge in high school to Friday nights at Chabad in college, I can’t even count how many meals we’ve shared together, but I can say that I enjoyed every single one of them and will miss them dearly.

Matt, you were the first friend I made in college, and I think it’s incredible that we’re still friends at the very end, especially after all those times I dragged you out of your room on a Sunday morning and made you watch soccer with me. I’m going to miss all the times we used to hang out on a Saturday night, and I hope we’ll get to do it again soon.

Sam and Evan, everything that I learned about being Pipe Dream’s Sports Editor, I learned from you guys. Thank you for taking me on as an intern all those semesters ago, and thank you for welcoming me into the section with open arms.

Sasha, I am so glad that the sports desk is right next to the Editor-in-Chief’s desk, because otherwise, you and I might not have become such close friends. You are one of the smartest, most considerate friends I have in my life and you’re also a kick-ass journalist. I know you’ll go on to do great things.

Joe, I’m so glad we decided to hire you as our intern last fall. You have been a great addition to our section, both in terms of your work and your company, and I’m super confident in the future of the Sports section knowing that you’ll be a part of it.

Finally, I am so lucky that I was able to work with the two best assistant editors in the entire world these past three semesters. Ed and Sam, the only reason the Sports section did so well over the past 18 months was you two. That’s it. You are both intelligent and hard-working and creative and brilliant and awesome — but I knew that would be the case when we first started. What I didn’t expect was how close the three of us would become as friends. I didn’t expect in the beginning that we’d all go out for my 21st birthday together, or that we’d end up doing a road trip to Buffalo or that we’d spend countless hours on FaceTime over the summer during the pandemic. But now, I don’t know what my college experience would have been without you. I know you both will do a great job with the section next semester and I’m going to miss you guys so much.

I’m not sure where I’ll be in eight months from now, but I know I’m going to make the best of it. It’s been a great life so far, and I’m excited to see what the next chapter will bring.

Justin Zion is a senior majoring in political science and is Sports Editor at Pipe Dream. He was an assistant Sports Editor in spring 2019.