Life & Arts queen bids adieu to crown, subjects, dominion

Kelsey McKinney

I didn’t deserve to work at the Texan.  

As a junior with no credentials, Aleksander Chan — the managing editor in the fall of 2012 — bought me a great sandwich, offered me a job and lied to me. 

He told me I could do the Life & Arts editor job in 10 hours per week. He told me that I would feel overwhelmed, and that every day I would feel like I had failed, but that it was worth it. 

And I did feel like that for the 45 hours a week I ended up spending in our poorly lit basement office. 

I struggled to learn the language of the paper — bob, boa, maestro, strip, dom — and I was terrified. Every day the paper printed seemed like a miracle. 

But The Daily Texan is a place to forget to add a word in a headline, spell someone’s name wrong and be given a job you probably aren’t qualified for. It is a place to fail and succeed with people who care about you and force you to be better. 

The Texan taught me more than vocabulary, AP style and how to read Google Analytics. In this overcrowded basement, I learned to be myself. 

At the Life & Arts desk I learned to be brave. I would have walked out after the first five days of print if it hadn’t been for Sarah-Grace Sweeney and her constant support, editing prowess and undying love. 

But I stayed instead. I learned to report, craft, edit and teach in the Texan office. I learned to do things that were difficult every day, and to make decisions I didn’t like.

Watching Audrey White, I learned what it means to lead a team and care deeply about other people. Amber Genuske taught me what it means to be Life & Arts royalty.

Without Susannah Jacob and Laura Wright I never could have understood how important what we do in the basement can be. 

Jack taught me to be kind. Elisabeth taught me to fight for what I believe in. Shabab taught me to listen more than I speak, and to care about my staff more than I care about myself. 

I know that any legacy I leave behind at the Texan won’t be an increase in traffic, or that haunted South by Southwest insert. So to Hannah Smothers: Take the crown. You deserve it. You are already one of my favorite writers to read. To Hayley, you amaze me and are a tech god. To Fred Tally-Foos, you will be great at whatever you decide to do. Don’t leave this place until you have to.  

To Michael Brick, thank you. You have helped me more than you know. 

I didn’t deserve to be taught or loved as much as this place taught and loved me. But The Texan — whatever its future may be — deserves everything: all of the time, and energy, and tears and love we can give.