Associate photo editor talks about friendship at the Texan

Chelsea Purgahn

After semesters of putting it off and telling myself I wouldn’t make it, I finally tried out for the Texan last fall. One published tryout photo and interview with Lawrence later, I waited for a call to find out if I had made it. I gave up the dream by midnight and went to bed, only to be woken up at 2 a.m. by what I thought was a crazy drunk guy but was actually a member of the senior staff telling me I was in. I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face or go back to sleep for hours.

Never in my college career did I think I’d be taking pictures of my favorite musicians at South by SouthWest or Austin City Limits, shooting alongside Sports Illustrated photographers at the Red River Rivalry Game or photographing the president at a memorial honoring West, Texas — or running a 5K with Shelby while taking pictures on a beer tour. 

Of course you grow professionally, but you also grow personally — the Texan has taught me a lot about life and even a little about love, accompanied by lots of laughs along the way.

I’ll miss Jonathan bringing me a pint of Blue Bell or rubbing my shoulders when I’m stressed.

I’ll miss how Gabby never judges me after hearing about all my outrageous escapades, or how Sam always sees the brighter side of things.

I’ll miss dancing to “Heart’s Content” with Brenda before she leaves the office and swing dancing on editing breaks with Marshall.

I’ll miss fawning over John Mayer with Elisabeth because it’s clear everyone else in the office has poor music taste. Except for Pete, who always gives great music recommendations and advice when I’m freaking out about the future.

I’ll miss hearing Shweta’s classic “come on” response, though I’ll miss her constant encouragement and joy even more.

I’ll miss the motivation I got working with Jack until 3 a.m. as we tried to catch up on papers we didn’t start writing until after scriptset. 

I’ll miss marveling at Charlie’s ability to shrug off stress and take on another assignment without a second thought.

I’ll miss sassing with Shelby, and how she always makes me laugh. We started together as scared, awkward staffers and now she’s become a fantastic friend — though we’re still awkward. Let’s be real. 

I’ll even miss Zach pointing out my many blonde moments. I hate to admit it, but I actually like the girly power-pop he made me listen to on editing nights.

I’ll miss Pu, the girl with the best work ethic I’ve ever seen. I’ll miss staying at Bennu until 5 a.m. with her or trying to figure out life on “real talk” breaks, and I’ll cherish those few times she voluntarily hugged me — it’s a big deal. I’ll always be a phone call away when she needs a “life coach.”  

Perhaps one of the best moments was when Pu and I convinced Sarah, an overwhelmed freshman, to stay at the Texan after a stressful first week. I’ve watched her grow so much her first semester in college, and she’s said the Texan is one of the best things to have happened to her at UT. I can only hope that by the time she writes her -30- column, she’ll have as many wonderful memories and incredible friends to look back on as I do.