When I got accepted to Texas Tech, I had my mind set on earning my bachelors degree in some form of engineering. Four years and four months later, I’m wrapping up my last few projects before walking the stage on Dec. 14, 2019 to be recognized for a Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering. While I did accomplish what I initially came to Lubbock to do, I have picked up much more than I could have imagined along the way.

One of the opportunities I have had is working at Tech’s independent, student-run newspaper, The Daily Toreador. When I arrived at Tech, I was young and had much to learn. I didn’t even know the school had a newspaper. In fact, I don’t think I had ever used any camera more advanced than one of my dad’s point-and-shoots that I would steal every now and then to take photos. It wasn’t until Spring 2016 that I finally did get around to using and eventually purchasing a DSLR camera.

I arrived to the Daily Toreador in August of 2018 as a staff member on the Multimedia Section led by then editor Ciara Perozzi. By this time, I’d made plenty of progress with my photography to be comfortable shooting things of all sorts. However, I entered with a bit of nervousness as photographing for a publication was going to be an entirely new experience and challenge of its own.

That, I knew. What I did not know was the journey that would entail.

I joined The DT my senior year, thinking I’d seen most of what Tech had to offer. No – I’d seen nothing. With each photo assignment came something new that I would experience for the first time at Texas Tech. By the time I’d head home from any assignment I learned something new about the campus I went to class on and the city I lived in while doing so. On paper, such may sound underwhelming to the average student, but I can vouch that it has been anything but.

A few weeks ago during the 2019 Homecoming I had the opportunity to photograph the annual “A Matador Evening” dinner, an event hosted by the Texas Tech Alumni Association to recognize and award alumni of the university that have positively impact their communities over the past year. It only takes one event like that to make one want to represent Texas Tech as best as they can by leaving their mark—no matter how large or small—in this world.

Being a photojournalist I’m also granted access to areas the vast majority of the population is not. This perk becomes especially enjoyable during sporting events. Admittedly, I’m not the most sports-knowledgeable person out there, but that takes nothing away from the double-ended blade of excitement and challenge when photographing a sporting event. I can’t count how many times I’ve stood or sat in place to grab the best possible shot as a Tech athlete dove, ran, or tackled in toward me on the sideline—I can however say I haven’t regretted doing so. I couldn’t have chosen a better time to come to The DT with the different teams performing well and receiving national recognition. The opportunity to have photographed those legacies is priceless.

The only thing more exciting that watching and photographing a game from sideline when it comes to photojournalism is breaking news. Take for example the April 6, 2019 riot following Texas Tech’s win over Michigan State in the Final Four to send the team to the NCAA Championship. The atmosphere of Texas Tech’s campus—the atmosphere of Lubbock as a whole—was one of thrill. The event started off with people taking to the streets to celebrate and ended in crime. Experiencing and capturing those moments literally feet away from the action and the assailants provides is unmatched for a photographer. There is something in every direction to shoot. I vividly remember getting one knee and even sitting the ground to photograph burning vehicles, totaled cars and the armored police force that evening. I only wish I could have one more breaking news experience before I left The DT—even if it’s just a false alarm like the Tech Alert evacuation message that sent campus into a mad spiral.

Now imagine shooting events like this on a near daily basis and you see how one can learn and grow and come to love a dusty (relatively) little city.

It didn’t take more than a few weeks of working on staff to affirm that I’d made the right decision in applying here. I was appreciated by not only my editor Ciara, but also by my fellow staff members (as evidenced by my photo of the month honor received just one month into the job), and advisers whom encouraged my growth in the position.

I wasn’t on staff long before I was promoted to an editor for Spring 2019. I decided to take the role of digital content manager, where I’d had some experience, but felt that I could make a difference in the online presence of the publication. This time saw a decrease in how much I photographed for the paper, but nonetheless provided me even more insight on Tech happenings as I read more of the stories as I published them online.

In April 2019, I earned another editorial role at The Daily Toreador as the Multimedia Editor. I began leading the section the following semester looking to improve the overall content and photography IQ of the entire staff. The past few months as multimedia have been truly rewarding, I’m sure I’ve photographed more this past semester than I have in the others combined. Some weeks saw up to 60 hours of work here at The DT, but I don’t think I’d change it if I had the power to. This publication has taught me some of the ins and outs of journalism, opened up a new avenue for a professional career, and shown me a new way of looking at the world around me.

The past 16 months at The DT I’ve built friendships, I’ve built journalism skills and I’ve built a family. I’ve contributed all that I can to the culture and product of the Daily Toreador newsroom, and so I bid farewell with fulfillment.

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