The bliss of connection

I’ve been simultaneously procrastinating and looking forward to writing this column for a long time. It’s a good thing working for The Hurricane has made me great at writing on deadline. And though I only just now put my fingers to the keyboard, I’ve thought about this column a lot – how to summarize these last four years in 400, 450 words max?

The whole world has changed since I started at UM in 2014, and I have changed, too. As a freshman missing her high school squad, I didn’t know that a campus and buildings don’t make up a university – people do.

Being a journalist has given me the indescribable privilege to have honest, long, deep, prying conversations with pretty much anyone. Many of you reading this have been on the receiving end of my nosiness because this community is full of awe-inspiring, hardworking, dynamic people. I’ve gotten to know many of them as professors, friends and mentors.

The greatest joy of my college years has been nurturing those relationships and allowing them to enrich my life. After every interview, conversation, phone call, meeting, conference, date, wine night and deadline, I sat back and felt that incredible feeling – the bliss of connection – washing over and seeping into me.

Every time, it was an affirmation. I first decided I wanted to be a journalist during an Oprah’s Master Class binge the summer after senior year. I heard the incomparable Maya Angelou explain how words matter.

“Some day we’ll be able to measure the power of words,” she said. “I think they are things. They get on the walls. They get in your wallpaper. They get in your rugs, in your upholstery and your clothes and finally into you.”

I have often used words – others’ and my own – to keep moving forward. So much of making it up whatever ladder we choose to climb is simply starting, envisioning ourselves at the top and filling the gap with gentle you-can-do-its. In times when I didn’t have the energy to encourage myself, I had others around me who believed in my potential.

The past few weeks have been emotional as I try to reflect on the past, prepare for the future and savor the present, yet the overwhelming feeling is gratitude. The people I have met during college have made this place difficult to say goodbye to (something I never expected).

I’ll miss running breathlessly to the office when news breaks; giving stressed out TMH friends and staffers a pep talk and a whiff of lavender oil; steaming costumes in the Ring Theatre dressing rooms before opening night; designing covers and brainstorming staff editorials; and getting big hugs from our goddess of an adviser, Tsitsi Wakhisi.

I’ll miss so much, more than my words can express.

Isabella Cueto will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in journalism and a Bachelor of Arts in theater arts.