By Joe Arruda
Every day since I began writing I asked myself, “Why do I do this?” None of the cliche answers ever fit. So I thought, and I continued thinking until last Thursday night.
I sat in my room, alone in the dark, the TV was off – just silence. My friends were out having fun at the bar, doing what non-sick drinking-aged college kids do. I had a fever – just as I thought I was getting over the flu, it came back to destroy me out of nowhere.
All I could do was think. I didn’t even think about the question – “Why do I do this?” But my mind began to wander, as it often does, and circled back to my dad – as it often does. I thought about what I know about him. Who was he? I only had about three years of memories that were clouded by the fact that my brain wasn’t fully developed for most of the time I knew him.
Almost everything I know about him has been told to me. Every so often some stranger will come up to me, “Is your dad Bill Arruda?” They’ll proceed to tell me some bland story about how great he was. Those never did it for me. But what really got me, the ones that really made me feel like I knew my dad, were the stories that painted a full picture. They showed me who he was, told me what he would do and allowed me to imagine what it would be like if he were still alive.
That’s what I love. And that’s why I fell in love with this whole journalism thing – those are the stories I want to tell.
When I made that conclusion, just over two weeks before commencement, I sunk into my bed with a smile. This is what college is for, right? To learn and study and get good grades, but also to learn who you are. It took me a while, but I am satisfied.
I always felt pressure to make him proud, to make my mom, my grandparents and the rest of my family proud, but all along it was an internal battle. Regardless of my GPA, how many awards I got, how many people aren’t my biggest fan – it’s okay. I’ve figured it out, and that’s all I needed.
I see journalism as a way of not only “drafting history” (- Marty Dobrow), but a way of preserving memories. Full memories. No fluff – nothing but the truth.
My time at Springfield wasn’t all life-altering epiphanies, however. I had my fair share of fun, “normal people” times, and so many tremendous opportunities were presented to me.
There were the two California trips to the Associated Collegiate Press conference, two Hoophall Classics, hundreds of stories and thousands of photos – and, my favorite of them all, the 2022 Pride Sports Journal magazine. Joining The Student was an opportunity of a lifetime – a gift that never stopped giving.
Last spring, when Marty Dobrow told former Editors-in-Chief Jack Margaros and Danny Priest, Irene Rotondo and myself that he wouldn’t be advising the paper this year, my jaw dropped and my Zoom screen froze. Not only is Marty the reason I got involved when I did, but he has been a tremendous mentor and advisor for me over the last four years. I didn’t think anyone would be able to fill his shoes.
And then Aimee Crawford came along. We knew she’d worked at places like ESPN and Sports Illustrated throughout her tremendous journalism career, but the transition was going to be weird, hectic at times and extremely stressful. As it turns out, all of that was false. Sure, there was stress. Sure, it was weird at times. But no one could have done a better job than Aimee. I never took one of her classes, but what she’s taught me has been priceless – and she found me a job after graduation.
To the San Fran Six: Gabby Guerard, Evan Wheaton, Danny Priest, Jack Margaros and Irene Rotondo. Thank you. This group not only made me fall in love with journalism, but it helped me find myself on this campus. I was quiet, mute at times, before I became comfortable with this group, and the rest was history. The memories we’ve made and will continue to make have been major highlights of this journey. Evan falling off a Lime and sending his daily comedic text-essays, Jack’s visit in Long Beach, Danny inspecting the Airbnb and getting us involved with Hoophall, “the San Francisco of the East Coast,” Gabby’s edits on my first-ever feature – all of it.
Irene, you get your own little part for keeping me – somewhat – sane this year (even though you were the reason for my insanity at times). We started out in competition, you won, but we’ve quickly developed into great friends over the last few years. We got into this together, and I am extremely proud to leave with you as well – I cannot wait to see where you end up.
To this year’s staff; thank you for sticking it out and making our finale successful. We have made plenty of memories and I am excited to see what is in store for all of you. To our other seniors, Hayden and Collin, you guys are legends and have great things ahead of you – thank you for actually keeping me as sane as possible.
Though the running joke was that I’d be transferring to Syracuse, I am extremely grateful for the countless experiences and opportunities I’ve had through The Student and at Springfield College.
Thank you to everyone who I failed to mention above that has made an impact on me as a journalist and as a person (I’m already way over word count). I didn’t know if Springfield College was where I was meant to be until that night last week when everything came full circle. My mind was wandering, my body was in pain, but my spirit found its place – and after that, everything was good.