I was shaking as I stepped foot into the Pipe Dream GIM. I was only a freshman, and I certainly wasn’t an English major. I wanted to write, but if this column is any evidence, I was perhaps not the best. Why had I come? Could I run away and save myself some embarrassment?

That’s when I heard the call for designers. News design. That was something I could do. I’d dabbled in Photoshop before, I’d been a yearbook editor in high school and, most importantly, I knew not to use Comic Sans. Little did I know the blond girl with crazy animal pants signing people up would change my life.

Blond girl with crazy animal pants? As a current tablet editor at InStyle Magazine, she’s probably horrified to read this. But Jamie Feld, you deserve my utmost thanks for convincing me to join, and a thousand more thanks for hiring me as your replacement.

When I joined, I was pursuing political science as a major and just designing as a hobby. But the more I designed, the more I fell in love with it. I might have joined the design team on a whim, but it led me to a major that I was falling in love with. I had my concerns of course. Majoring in art was a risk; what if I wasn’t good enough? What if I wasted my time and money on a degree that left me unemployed?

Then InStyle called. Not me, but Jamie. InStyle Magazine offered her a job mid-year. Jamie hadn’t pursued graphic design as a formal major, yet here she was, offered a job at one of the world’s top magazines, all due to Pipe Dream. And with Jamie as my inspiration, I declared as a graphic design major.

Two years later, I haven’t regretted this choice. I’ve fallen in love with design as an art. Tease me all you want, but I think good typography is as beautiful as any painting or sculpture. I’ve had amazing internships and am graduating employed as a graphic designer in NYC. It’s been my dream to reach this point, and none of it would have been possible without Pipe Dream. If there’s one thing you take from this column, it’s to pursue the things you love: Do what makes you happy, and don’t over-think. Your spontaneous decisions can sometimes be your life-changing ones.

So where is this long-winded saga going, you might ask? It’s heading where it needs to: a thank you. Pipe Dream has been more than just a club. It’s the organization, and the people, who have changed and defined my life. This office is where I cried after my first big breakup and celebrated when I got my internships. I picked up a caffeine addiction alongside a passion for journalism and art. Five a.m. diner runs became standard, the phrase “TKTKTK” became more than gibberish and Miley Cyrus became my obsession. Pipe Dream brought me to Chicago with my editors, and later New Orleans, where I kicked Harvard’s butt.

While this column has enough cheese to pair nicely with a Chardonnay or Merlot, I don’t think I could graduate without making acknowledgments. Jamie may have set me on my path, but there have been quite a few who kept me from straying.

Foremost, Christina. I couldn’t have asked for a better Editor-in-Chief, for a better office husband, for a better friend. You’ve put up with my crazy quirks, atrocious spelling and endured the long hours and tough times. There’s no one I’d rather cry with at the end of the year (and believe me, I plan on it). Confession: I’d never had Moe’s queso before I met you. Other confession: I never used Pusheen before either. Stop worrying about the future. You stand up for you beliefs, take responsibility for your actions and positively affect the world around you. Don’t ever stop believing in yourself; you’re going to change the world someday.

This next thank-you is to Zack, who has made me a proud mama as my assistant, my design manager. Next year, you’re going to kill it as managing editor. I could never have asked for a more generous or more pleasing little, or a more capable person to pass the reigns over to. To Becca and Cari, you’ve supported me outside this office beyond anything I could have expected. I love you both, this isn’t “buh bye” and I refuse to let it be. To Emma, Corey and John, though our time has been shorter, I’m so proud to leave my section to you three.

To Kendall, Ari, Geoff, Jules, Dan and everyone else on staff, I could write a novel for you all, but to plagiarize Geoff, “Guys, I have a word count.”

To Sarah, Jordynn and Michelle, thanks for putting up with the Pipe Dream hours, and never complaining when I returned at 4:15 a.m.

Not all college friends are forever. Some are just for a moment on the Spine, others only a semester in class. But my Pipe Dream family will be forever. Whether it was one semester, one year or all four, you all have become irreplaceable, and to you, I can only say thank you.

— Paige Nazinitsky is a senior double-majoring in political science and graphic design.