Students recall their ‘Plot Twist,’ unexpected encounters that sparked growth

Angela Lim, Life and Arts Reporter

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in the Jan. 21, 2022 flipbook.

CW: discussion of eating disorders

In NIKI’s 2020 album MOONCHILD, the eighth track, “Plot Twist,” speaks to the idea of meeting someone by chance and looking forward to a thrilling future with them.

As Longhorns embark on a new chapter of their lives this semester, The Daily Texan asked students to share serendipitous moments that changed their lives.

Tina Feng, environmental science freshman

When her mom moved out of state for work in 2020, Feng took on the responsibility of taking care of her family. While she started learning how to cook for practical reasons, she said the activity eventually developed into a hobby rather than just a means of necessity. Coming to view food as a source of joy rather than a source of anxiety, Feng said cooking helped on her journey to eating disorder recovery.

“Going through the process of making and putting (food) on the table and realizing just how much of a labor of love it was helped me change my relationship with food,” Feng said.

By preparing and learning Chinese recipes, Feng said she felt more connected to her heritage. While away, her mom shared recipes and tips through FaceTime, which strengthened their bond.

“It really changed our relationship,” Feng said. “We rarely fight anymore, (and) we say ‘I love you’ to each other, which we never really did before.”

Lesliey Del Campo, radio-television-film junior

When Del Campo chose to stay in their charter high school instead of transferring to a private school, they rediscovered their passion for the arts. They immersed themselves in a program their art teacher designed, where they learned topics ranging from graphic design to film.

“(My teacher) took us to different theaters and private art exhibitions in Dallas,” Del Campo said. “She changed my life and steered it into a more art-focused direction.”

With their teacher’s support, Del Campo said they became more outgoing and held several leadership positions at their charter school, such as art club president. With renewed confidence and artistic spirit, Del Campo chose to pursue their interests in college.

“Having a trajectory and somebody to foster all that creative focus (and) energy was very important and ended up changing who I was,” Del Campo said. “I wasn’t going to be an RTF major if I didn’t take those classes in high school.”

Aagna Patel, business freshman

While preparing for a University Finance Association case competition in November, Patel met another student who became a close friend. She said they inspired her to continue sharing her passion for activism online.

“The past couple years, I’ve spoken out a lot about (mental health), and sometimes it’s difficult to speak up about that,” Patel said. “Becoming friends with this person motivated me to be more vocal about it.”

Now, Patel plans on relaunching her podcast, “desi me rollin,” which will center around finding one’s identity in college.

“Something they’ve taught me is that we have this life once,” Patel said. “The only chance we have to make the most of it is right now, so you have to go full force with whatever you want to do.”