Senior-ish Sendoff-ish: Pharmacy student says goodbye

You can tell this is a staged photo because nobody looks this serene while editing. Photo by Faith Delamarter


Content warning: mention of suicidal ideation

As a student journalist, people are often surprised to hear I’m a pharmacy student. I myself often wonder if I’m the first editor in professional pharmacy school in the Collegian’s 138-year history. After all, what business does a healthcare major have in the student newspaper? 

In reality, pharmacy and journalism have much more in common than people realize. In fact, pharmacy is what brought me to the Collegian in the first place. 

It was August 2020, and I’d been rotting away at home for an entire half a year after my freshman year’s “extended spring break” quickly turned into “what the h*ll is going on with the world?” In the weekly pharmacy newsletter, I saw that the Collegian was hiring. As a lifelong writer of low-brow blog posts and half-baked attempts at the next big YA novel, and as somebody with an incredible habit of saying “yes” to every opportunity presented to me, I applied on a whim; what was there to lose? 

Well, turns out that lots of sleep was to be lost, and perhaps years of my life expectancy due to late-night stress, but there was a whole lot to be gained, too. 

In choosing which section to apply to, I didn’t see myself as a serious newswoman, I certainly wasn’t a sports buff, and opinion writing seemed daunting. Since I had kept personal blogs since the sixth grade documenting my various hobbies — TV shows, music, calligraphy, makeup, skincare — the Culture section seemed to be my best fit. To sell myself even more, I emphasized my role in the Diversity Center and in revitalizing Asian & Pacific Islander Alliance

I went into the Collegian expecting to write mostly light-hearted pieces about makeup, skincare and beauty. Despite my absolute menagerie of opinions on society, I honestly didn’t consider myself as somebody who could — or was necessarily worthy to — delve into other topics. 

My very first article, “How to treat and prevent ‘maskne’”, kept it fairly low stakes. My second article amped it up a bit, reporting on the Jordan College of the Arts Social Justice & Diversity Taskforce

Before the third Monday night pitch meeting of the year, I posted on my Instagram story about the Trump administration’s attempt to ban Chinese social media app WeChat, a thinly veiled act of Sinophobia following many an act of Sinophobia from ol’ Donny Boy, but one that could ultimately completely fracture the Chinese American community. Soon, then-managing editor Bridget Early slid into my DMs, asking if I wanted to write for the Opinion section that week about the whole thing. And just like when I saw that initial application for the Collegian, of course, I said “yes.” 

Well, more specifically, I said, “Oooh yes,” according to our message history. 

What most don’t understand about me is that while many perceive me as eternally optimistic, always smiling and laughing and joking, my first year at Butler and subsequent summer were just a little h*llish. I spent many nights during the semester hiding in my dorm’s suite bathroom so my roommate wouldn’t hear me cry. I spent many nights during the COVID-enforced homestay listlessly in bed, wishing I wouldn’t wake up in the morning. 

It was a vast array of unfortunate circumstances. I had an unsupportive, racist boyfriend who was tolerant to, if not actively upholding, the pandemic’s anti-Asian racism. I had a hard time finding people I really connected with — one, as someone equally “left-brained” and “right-brained” when the two are usually regarded as mutually exclusive, and two, as somebody heavily connected to my Chinese American heritage at a predominantly white institution where most of the other Asians were transracial adoptees who didn’t strongly identify with Asian American culture, if at all. This feeling of isolation deepened during the pandemic when I felt as though the weight of fighting anti-Asian racism rested entirely upon my 18-year-old shoulders. 

Through that first Opinion article on the attempted WeChat ban, it was as if I cleared my throat of some disgusting, insecure phlegm, and I gained my voice. Through the rest of the school year and much of my tenure in the Collegian, instead of makeup and skincare, I continued to write heavily about race, representation and social issues, primarily in my home in the Culture section — the very topics I didn’t think I was worthy of expressing my voice on. 

However, by the end of the school year, as the editorial board was calling for applications for the next school year, I was set on not wanting to apply for Culture section editor. Time management as a sophomore pre-pharmacy major was hard enough, and I knew that starting professional pharmacy school junior year would be even more academically challenging. But then-Assistant News Editor Annie Faulkner — who I happened to go to high school with — let me know that Collegian advisor Dr. Tatsiana Karaliova was impressed by my writing and convinced me that I would be a great editor. At that, I submitted my application to be a Culture assistant editor. 

It was as an editor — first as a Culture section editor junior year, then content managing editor senior year and now managing editor my fifth year — that I really saw the parallels between pharmacy and journalism. 

You learn how to pore over source after source to find the answers you need, whether it’s to adjust a diabetes patient’s drug regimen in clinic or find out why this generation of college students has less sex

When you need an opinion from experts in the field on how to best treat a patient, deferring to clinical guidelines published by professional medical organizations is essentially the same as searching the AP Stylebook to figure out how to best write something. 

In both pharmacy practice and journalism, there’s a huge amount of attention paid to every little detail, with each bit of work produced requiring multiple rounds of checking done by multiple people. As one of my pharmacy professors said: “You’re entering a detail-oriented profession.” 

Most importantly, I find both pharmacy and journalism to be full of some of the most hardworking, intelligent people I’ve ever had the pleasure to know — performing vital, stressful yet often thankless — work in our society. Whether it’s the back-to-back exams of pharmacy school or the grueling publication schedule of the Collegian, it’s an endless grind; after all, other than pharmacy students and the editorial board of the Collegian, there aren’t too many other students who are on campus until 1, 2 or even 3 a.m. on a regular basis. 

But I truly mean it when I say The Butler Collegian is an incredibly important institution on this campus. 

I wholeheartedly see the Collegian as a place of learning and growth. In the Collegian, you have the opportunity to gain journalistic skills like the ability to be resourceful, establish professional relationships, analyze media critically and communicate effectively — all of which are vital for every profession, not just journalism, and really for living life as a competent adult in general. And students don’t often get to have the in-depth, line-by-line edits anywhere outside the Collegian. 

Plus, not only is the Collegian an outlet for students like me to express themselves, but it’s also an avenue to keep a record, hold those in power accountable and incite real-life change that’s hard to find elsewhere. From years of hushed maltreatment of the women’s volleyball team to a less than appetizing campus dining experience, to a particularly fashionable college sophomore, where else would people be able to find the stories of these people from a random small liberal arts college in the Midwest? There is quite literally no other media outlet that does exactly what the Collegian does for the Butler community, and that is the magic of this paper. 

I am so, so, so proud of what I have witnessed the Collegian staff accomplish over the past four years. And I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished! I won an award for in-depth reporting, something my sophomore pre-pharmacy self never could’ve even fathomed. I organized a Butler version of my favorite New York Times column, “Tiny Love Stories” and style guides for the paper. I was the inaugural recipient of the “NOSCPDM,” the Collegian version of the EGOT, having contributed to every section of the Collegian: News, Opinion, Sports, Culture, Photo, Design and Multimedia. I’ve written articles on topics very close to my heart, including those that have been featured in class syllabi and lent me the opportunity to be a guest lecturer senior year. I’ve grown so much as a writer, an editor and a leader. 

However, my greatest accomplishment, no contest, is the amazing people I have gotten to know through the Collegian — people who understand me, support me and relentlessly roast me. 

To all the editors I’ve had the honor to work with: thank you for being you. Our workload is no joke, and I wouldn’t have chosen to take it on every week with anybody else, losing our minds in sweet harmony every Tuesday publication night. A special shoutout to Bridget for encouraging me to write that first Opinion article that allowed me to express myself for the first time, to Annie for giving me the push to join the editorial board and to Emma Quasny for convincing me to stay when I was ready to leave the paper. 

To all the family, friends and OOMFs: thank you for supporting me, even through the illiteracy of Yik Yakkers. 

And to all future staff and readers of the Collegian: thank you for keeping student journalism alive and well. 

As my sixth and final year in the pharmacy program takes me to clinical rotations and away from the Collegian, I’m certainly grateful to be getting my Monday and Tuesday nights back — though I will have the worst FOMO ever leaving behind this publication that gave me a voice four years ago and has been such an integral part of my life. 

I don’t know exactly where my future will take me or what role writing will play in my impending post-grad life, but I do know this for sure: “because I knew you, I have been changed for good.” 


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