As my time as an undergraduate at Binghamton University winds down, I find it strangely difficult to begin this column. Ironically, this will be the first and last time I am ever writing for Pipe Dream despite being active in the newspaper for three years now, so maybe I’m nervous. Alternatively, perhaps I have so much to say because I don’t quite know where to begin. I joined Pipe Dream in my sophomore year, enticed by the exclusiveness of being an editor in a bustling office, and not to mention the expensive cameras. To be clear, I joined the Photo department.

I’d had some experience in photography prior to even entering college, and in the summer of my freshman year, I even landed an assistant job for a Manhattan wedding photography studio. However, the job rarely let me even take pictures, and I wanted to prove myself in one capacity or another. This outlet became Pipe Dream — I took assignment after assignment, slowly building up my portfolio of fast-paced sports photography, dimly lit museum features or even the occasional politician visit to campus. Then the end of sophomore year rolled around, and I realized there was more.

The assistant editor position to the Photo department had opened up, and I told myself I was going to get it or die trying. Obviously, I’m being dramatic, but something did come over me at that time, telling me that I needed this. It was the first time I realized my goals and got actually interested in college extracurriculars.

I entered college, like most do, as an immature high schooler, unsure of where I was going or why I was even there. I had a relationship slowly veering off the rails and a sheer lack of experience in virtually anything. I knew that I enjoyed photography as a hobby, and perhaps wanted to pursue economics. Over the course of four years, I realized I completely hated economics, loved environmental studies, sociology and anthropology and turned photography into something more than a hobby.

By junior year, I was the Photo assistant, learning more about teamwork and management than anything else. As the assistant, I worked alongside the best co-worker and boss I could ever ask for, Ariel. She taught me the skills that I carried into my job as the Photo editor in my senior year, including organization, creativity and definitely patience. Ariel, you carried these skills with you into your position as Managing Editor, and I’m grateful to have learned these from you personally.

During this time, I was also living with my good friend and future Editor-in-Chief, Jeremy. Alongside the stress-induced fun of living in a low-rent basement apartment, we both grew together as we tackled overflowing sinks and an uncommunicative landlord — however, we also grew within Pipe Dream as well. It was quite an experience to watch and support my roommate and co-worker as he suddenly became the face of the newspaper we had been a part of for two years. In senior year, as I took over the role of Photo editor and dealt with the ins and outs of my department, Jeremy and Ariel kept the entire paper running despite a pandemic and severe drop in engagement. Jeremy, it’s been a long time since we first met as strangers in the Chenango Champlain Collegiate Center (C4), and I’m going to miss all of it.

As I leave college, there is a multitude of people and organizations I have met, befriended and moved past. Ultimately, Pipe Dream wasn’t always the most exciting thing I was doing, or even enjoyable, but it was a constant that I’ve had for most of college, lasting longer than most other opportunities I’ve taken. I established some really good friendships, met even more really great people and gained experiences I would never trade for anything. It taught me that being a leader and a team member is about being there for your friends, co-workers and organization when the time comes. This is why I am incredibly happy with the incoming Photo editor for next year. Harry, you show a desire to learn quickly and lead, not to mention you have already produced quality published photos in just a semester of experience. I wish you luck, and I thank you for stepping up when no one else did.

I’m not certain where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing by next fall — unlike some people I know, I didn’t resort to grad school as a panicked, post-grad plan, although I respect them for it. Whatever I am doing, however, the time I’ve had at Pipe Dream will be more important to me than most other things I have done in these four years.

Sidney Slon is a senior majoring in environmental studies and is Photo editor. He was assistant Photo editor from 2019-2020.