Managing editor may not have been a journalism major, was still pretty damn good at this

Mantra Dave, Managing Editor

When I stare into the sun and reflect on my time at the Texan, I picture a scrapbook. Not one of those unserious handheld ones, but a full coffee table spread. Pictures, essays, newspaper clippings and even a couple of bylines. I have no conception of college without the Texanit’s been the bedrock of my time on the Forty Acres. 

I joined The Daily Texan as a wide-eyed freshman copy issue staffer on my 12th day at the University of Texas. Seven semesters later, I’m exiting stage left as the managing editor, in charge of the nation’s best, most awarded and most followed college newspaper. And I haven’t taken a journalism class in between! 

In between, I’ve gotten closer to figuring out the person I aspire to be and the life I hope to lead. 

First and foremost, thank you, Mom and Dad, for always being in my corner and urging me to set my sights sky-high. 

A further thanks to the Normal Community High School Inkspot and Brad Bovenkerk for giving me my first introduction to journalism. I appreciate that I was never allowed to rest at good enough. I would never have clicked submit on that first Texan application without y’all.

When I showed up to that Zoom tryout, I hoped to learn a little bit and meet some interesting people. Over the last three years, I’ve gotten so much more than I could have ever dreamed of. As I leave the Texan in search of natural light, I know that the friendships and community that made the basement so rewarding will stay with me for a lifetime. 

I spent my first five semesters here in the copy department, and I truly loved … 99% of it. In my heart of hearts, I’m still an Oxford comma guy. Regardless, it will always be my favorite part of this paper. 

Phoebe, thank you for teaching me everything I know. I am so grateful for the guidance and support you gave me. 

Angelina, thanks for being my first friend at this paper. You have such a special place in my heart, and I have missed you so much this year. 

Emma, I wish I had an iota of the grace, kindness and compassion you do. I am so thankful for our friendship. 

Lana, without a doubt, one of the coolest people this paper has seen. As talented of a writer and editor as you are, you’re an even better friend. I’d get Sweetgreen with you any day. 

Kate, I am constantly so proud of you. There’s nobody I both trust so much and love to annoy so often. Don’t worry, you won’t escape my bad jokes just because I won’t be in the basement. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I hope you’re running this paper one day — I’m not sure it deserves you, but I know you’d do a hell of a job. You’ve always been my favorite. 

Sara Doyle, we are so similar in the most amusing ways. I’m sure plenty of people find us annoying, and I take that as a compliment. There is nobody else I’d rather complain with. 

This year, I’ve become an unofficial member of the sports department, which has truly been an all-time experience. Covering the NCAA Tournament in Des Moines and Houston are memories that will last a lifetime. 

Matthew Boncosky, I hold your friendship so near and dear to my heart — truly the best doubles partner a guy could ask for. Thank you for indulging all of my absurd takes, SICKOS moments and crazy theories. The sports desk truly was not the same without you.

Christina, I didn’t think I’d ever meet someone who matched my level of weird, niche obsessive crazy. In the words of Matt Norlander, “I was wrong!”  I think Apple is probably running out of storage for all our late night voice memos. I may be leaving this paper, but there’s no chance you’re getting out of listening to my conference realignment theories anytime soon.

Matthew Caldwell, I’m going to miss your relentless optimism and generally awesome demeanor dearly. I think about the David Nwaba DM way more often than is reasonable. 

Thanks to all of our Daily Flexin’ crew — we were robbed. Grad students, weird Mormons and other people I wish the worst for should have their own league. I loved every minute we got to spend together aiming at people’s faces and taking down irritating opponents.

My favorite memories, though, have come in my two semesters in management. 

Peter, thanks for always standing behind us. I appreciate you listening to every half-baked idea and furious rant without missing a beat.

Fiza, truly, our fearless leader. You were so damn good at your job — I hope I was half the leader you were.

Sruti, there’s nobody else I’d have wanted to display a shocking lack of pop culture knowledge with. 

Hello, Tori — I’ve finally got the voice down. I’m going to keep bothering you, but it’ll just be so we can hang out. And probably to complain about some stupid thing.

Karina and Sara Kinney, sorry for making your lives unnecessarily difficult and always asking to use “that other font.” I will miss your senses of humor and constant banter.

Megan, the Plan II to running this campus pipeline was awfully strong with us around. Thanks for helping me fight the important battles. I hope Karl Rove is proud of us.

Breigh, let me set the record straight: sorry for instigating that one feud for a whole year. You do so many disparate things so well that it kind of scares me.

Shez, your enthusiasm is truly one of a kind. Thanks for sticking around and gracing all of us with your infectious joy. One of these days, I’ll get to say I knew you before you were famous. 

Kamryn, sorry for not hiring you that one time. I’m glad I saw the error of my ways — otherwise, we’d never have gotten Mantra Bingo! You are the editor I hope to someday be. The Duffl addiction is a real problem though!

Morgan, thanks for always reminding me of the 10 different things I was forgetting to do and laughing at every dumb joke with me. You strike the balance between kind and unwilling to tolerate nonsense so perfectly. 

I couldn’t have asked for AMEs farther from Ohio. I’m preemptively embarrassed for how much you’ll both show me up when you’re running this whole thing.

And to Angela, Sarah, Bernice, Alyssa, Mihir, Kevin, our fall and spring leadership teams, the spring 2022 copy department, anyone that ever worked on my production nights and everyone who has spun a part of the wonderful tapestry that is the Texan during my time here — thanks for tolerating my labored icebreakers. I appreciate the effort and grace.

I promised I’d include a trademark complaint in my goodbye, so who am I to deny the people?

UT Twitter, go get a hobby. Make one (!!) friend. Try studying for a class. Touch some grass.

The Texan is an awfully complex operation for a 20-year old to manage: 300+ staffers and 13 departments, with far too many stories and crises to count. But somehow, the lessons it’s taught me are pretty simple. Show up and try really hard. Be willing to do whatever needs to be done. Complain about everything, but don’t let it ever make you cynical. Love your friends as deeply as you can. And, always, always make the bad joke. 

I’m terrified of a life without the Texan. I’ve grown used to the meetings, the structure and even the weekend editing. It is so tempting to do the easy thing: stay a little longer at this paper that has turned into my second home. But the Texan has taught me the best things in life aren’t the easy calls. A piece of my heart will always sit at that first copy computer, and the Texan’s influence will help me write the scrapbook captions for every adventure that follows. Next up: biking to Alaska, no big deal.

I got so much more out of my time here than I could have ever imagined in August 2020. For that, and for everything else, I’ll always be thankful.