Post Classifieds

Column: Two years are not enough

By Mike Peng
On May 1, 2014

I wish I had two more years to prepare for this.
This is supposed to be a senior column, one that reflects on all the fondest memories and all that one has accomplished at this place.
Only that I - as a transfer - still feel like a sophomore at heart, because two years here is simply too brief to make enough memories and accomplish enough goals.
I wish I had gotten one more A, written one more story or gone out one more time.
Nevertheless, what I'm taking away from my two short years here are still things I will carry with me for a lifetime, and it all started with The Daily Campus.
I still remember the first time I attended a meeting.
Stepping into a standing-room only office filled with people who share the same dreams and visions as you can be an intimidating feeling at first. I didn't know a new guy like me would fit in or find any work to do, but it didn't take long for the DC to welcome me with open arms and make me feel like I belonged somewhere.
That hasn't always been the case for me, a guy who has spent a better portion of the last nine-plus years adapting to the language and culture of this country.
There have been times I felt like an outsider and excluded from things I wanted to do and places I wanted to be, but the DC gave me the platform to do what I love and live out my wildest dreams, all while allowing me to meet some of the most wonderful and intelligent people to ever cross paths with me.
I'll never forget Dan, our previous Sports Editor, who sat down with me last year and told me not to worry about not getting an interview for a story because my efforts counted. You may not have realized how much a little meeting like that meant to someone like me.
I'll never forget Tim for noticing the hard work I put in and taking a chance on the new guy to cover the men's basketball team with him this year despite me not being one of the best writers on the staff. I've learned a lot along the journey and the trips to Memphis and Dallas will always be the highlights of my college years, not to mention witnessing UConn winning a national title along the way. I truly appreciate this opportunity that may never come again.
I'll never forget Ryan for making work always feel like a party. From devouring cookies and brownies while covering soccer to 7-Eleven snack runs and blasting Bruce Springsteen during copy editing, things always seemed more fun and relaxed on those shifts with you and I couldn't ask for a better coworker.
I'll never forget the trips to Vernon Diner and the Pearlman Cup. Those were the times I truly bonded with everyone at the DC and felt like I was part of the family.
I'll never forget everyone else who has helped me over the past two years professionally and personally. The lessons I have learned have helped me to become that better person I had hoped to be when I first arrived here.
I wish I had two more years of all this.
Although there's nobody to blame for missing out on those two years but myself. Poor grades in high school scared me off from applying to UConn initially so instead, I enrolled at a small university in New Jersey, where I never really settled in because my heart was always in Storrs.
I always knew I wanted to end up here someday, I just never knew if I could.
There have been times I wanted to give up and just settle for what life holds for me, but one person gave me the strength and motivation to push myself to be the best I can be.
That person worked three jobs despite speaking little to no English just to make sure she and her son have a roof over their heads and that an address change from Shanghai, China to Fort Lee, New Jersey was worth all the sacrifices she has made on her own.
That person supported all my hopes and dreams, even if it was entering the field of journalism and writing about sports in his second language.
My mother did all those things to make sure that I stayed afloat - even in the worst of times - before finding my way to my own niche where I can make the most out of myself.
That's where I am now.
A place where I refined my craft in journalism.
A place where I realized my potential and pushed myself to do my best.
A place where I watched the best college basketball teams bring home national titles and hang up banners.
A place where I made friendships that will last a lifetime.
I just wish I had two more years at this place too.
But instead, I only have two more weeks left.
I know can never get back the times I have lost, so all I can do is make sure that I make the most out of the times I have had.
UConn and the DC have provided me with skills and connections in my two brief years here that have prepare me well for the next stage of my life, and for that, I will forever be grateful.
I'm also grateful of my friends back home who have put up with my constant blabbering about UConn and my love for this school over the years. Your support has allowed me to take so much pride in what I do and where I do it.
I'm grateful for every person who has ever took the time to read a couple hundred words from a college student like me, who just likes to ramble about his thoughts sometimes. I may not know every single one of you, but I do appreciate every single one of you.
I'm grateful of my wonderful other half, Kristen, for understanding that I had to watch and cover a UConn game on New Year's Eve while I was with your family because it's all part of the job. Thank you for putting up with all the traveling I had to do and all the weekends I missed seeing you. Not once did you get frustrated or leave my side, and your encouragement is what continues to push me to become a better man.
Lastly, I'm grateful for all that has happened here over the last two years. I may always regret missing out on the first two years, but I will forever cherish the last two that I was fortunate to be a part of.
So thanks for everything UConn, my home away from home.

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