I remember my first-ever story for The Aquinian.
It was a story about whether Cardi B’s “WAP” was empowering or not. It seemed fun, so I accepted, thinking it would be simple. Yet, despite contacting virtually everyone in the gender studies and sociology departments and even explaining “WAP” to some professors, I received no interviews. By the end of my deadline, I had to submit a half-assed article with no quality sources, which did not get published.
I was mortified. Even though I was back home, I was sure the blush on my cheeks could be seen from Peru to Canada. I vowed never to go to another meeting and permanently ghost the AQ.
But I went back, somehow. Since then, I’ve been writing consistently for this paper. Some articles went on to win awards, some made me prouder than I thought was possible and some haunt my nightmares (I’m looking at you, M&M satire), but all gave me a perspective I did not have before.
Working alongside an exceptional group of individuals has been an absolute privilege and continues to be. The first who comes to mind is Diana Chávez, the editor-in-chief in 2020-21 and my dear friend, who kept the paper going even during the pandemic when everything else was falling apart. Diana’s story is one of inspiration, as a fellow Latin American navigating the challenges of coming to Canada and carving out a place for yourself. She gave me a home, both metaphorically and literally for two days, and I will forever be a witness to how much of an amazing leader, friend and sister she is.
Another person I want to highlight is Hannah Rudderham, the editor-in-chief for 2021-22. Though my first semester as a senior writer was online, she extended her warmth and compassion to make me feel like a part of our team. When I finally arrived, things felt very new and confusing, but Hannah guided me through the work and made me into the journalist I am today. Luckily for me, I still have her around for our monthly coffee escapades.
The people I want to thank the most are the ones I work with on my current team. They have been there through thick and thin, and their support has meant everything to me, and since most are graduating, I just want to take a few moments to embrace this wonderful group of people.
I am both proud of you and very sad that you will leave, but I wish you nothing but the best. I had the pleasure of sharing this year with some of the sweetest, kindest and funniest people I know.
To Aaron, whom I regard as my mentor, you have had all my respect and admiration since day one. In that first story meeting I attended, I remember you being overly self-critical and, even when I read your incoming letter, you said you slightly improved.
Dear Aaron, if you could see yourself through my eyes, you would see nothing but talent, so be kinder to your work! Your journey as a journalist is just starting and yet in the time I have known you, you have improved immensely. The shoes you leave might be a little big for me right now, but I’ll get there and I’ll make you proud.
And to the team of editors and volunteers for the 2023-24 academic year, I thank you in advance for all the stories we will put out. Our student-led paper needs to reinforce its commitment to voicing the voiceless, which is the main goal of journalists. The Aquinian will keep doing just that to change the narrative. Letting people determine themselves separated from the Western perspective, which oftentimes makes assumptions about people and takes them for granted, is vital in journalism.
Finally, I wish to end this letter by addressing my family, both the one I have at home and the one I made here. Los amo. Gracias por apoyarme viniendo hasta aquí y haciéndome sentir como en casa. Fue un camino largo, pero lo logré gracias a ustedes. Gracias en especial a mi mamá por todos sus sacrificios porque son los que me han traído hasta acá.
¡Nos vemos en septiembre!
Giuliana Grillo de Lambarri