By Sara Umbrell, Layout Director
I started out my life at Canisius during the fall of 2020, or, as I like to call it, the year the world took a spiral down the rabbit hole. Canisius was my second-choice school back during my initial college applications; I originally completed my freshman year at Washington State University as a zoology major. But after east coast Massachusetts, switching sides of the country so abruptly was not the best for my mental health, so I ended up finding myself in the city of Buffalo.
The main factor that drew me to Canisius was their ABEC program, as I hadn’t seen a similar program in all of the schools I looked at — although there’s not many schools that offer animal behavior as a major, so that wasn’t a huge pool to go up against. Another part of the program, the core capstone, also sparked my interest, as I thought it would be an amazing opportunity to go perform field work on another continent for a couple weeks. But (and I want to preface this by saying that this is in no way the fault of the ABEC department or any department) the class was unfortunately postponed due to COVID, which was very disappointing to me. They are bringing it back next semester, which is great, but too late for me to be able to attend the trip.
My first year at Canisius was a bit of a rocky start: I didn’t know anyone, I didn't have a car, classes were mostly all online, not many events were happening in person and I lived on the outskirts of campus in Delavan. My weekly — and sometimes daily, depending on my work for the week — event was going grocery shopping and hauling up to Elmwood Avenue to the Lexington Co-op. This was my routine up until about April, when I got an email in my inbox from someone named Mike Pesarchick about application forms for new members wanting to join the school newspaper, The Griffin.
I did not expect to join the school newspaper, but I did have some background knowledge on what it would entail, as my brother was the features editor for his paper at Fordham University. I never thought of myself as a great writer, but I thought I would give it a shot anyway. If nothing else, it would be a good way to meet some people on campus. Looking back now on that first general body meeting I attended in September of 2021, I did not at that time think I would end up becoming the layout director. I can still remember my reason for picking up and learning layout was “I don’t like writing,” and I came to a meeting for a newspaper. I’m more of a reader than a writer.
Back when I was still learning the way of everything, everyone made sure to include me and made me feel like I had a place there, even if I only was laying out the opinion section. I sat in what’s called the “layout corner,” and I kind of kept to myself more often than not. Eventually though, I felt comfortable enough to come out of my shell and turned The Griffin from something that I was hesitant of at the start into one of my most memorable experiences at Canisius. I know it's cheesy, but if there's one thing I wish I could tell my freshman self, and other incoming freshmen, it’s this: don’t be afraid of trying things out of your comfort zone. I did that, and it’s been one of the best college experiences I had. It’s a great day to be a Griff!