My real home at CWRU

My real home at CWRU

“Hi! I’m Puneet Bansal, an incoming freshman, and I would love to know how I could get involved with the newspaper!”

I typed that excitedly from my desk in my childhood room while wearing pajamas and munching on some popcorn. It was the middle of the pandemic, and reaching out and meeting people was already pretty awkward. So I decided to throw myself further into the awkwardness by reaching out to then Executive Editor Nathan Lesch through the CampusGroups chat.

Not joining the school newspaper was one of my regrets from high school. It just didn’t fit into my schedule, but I wasn’t going to let that turn out the same now that I had a second chance. I talked to Nathan and he told me to pick a section to write for, so I immediately jumped at sports. It was the perfect situation: I’d be combining my love for sports with my passion for writing.

I eventually became the sports editor at the end of my first year fall semester. Production Nights became a staple of my schedule and where I met some of my favorite people at Case Western Reserve University. Former Director of Print Sara Khorshidi scared me from the beginning, even through a computer screen. The legend of former Executive Editor Shreyas Banerjee and his four pieces a week of a thousand words each about Star Wars and the latest TV shows and things to do around Cleveland were a sight to behold. The absolute workaholic Nathan trying to navigate the uncharted pandemic waters with relative ease and calm was inspiring.

That spring semester was instrumental in my development as a writer and a person. After never having formally interviewed a person in my life, I got to talk to CWRU alum Bianca Smith less than a month after becoming the first female African American coach in MLB history. That same semester, I had the opportunity to work with another CWRU alum, Mark Termini, a Cleveland-based lawyer and sports agent who engineered LeBron James’ infamous contract to return to Cleveland in 2014. I talked to the men’s basketball team about their shortened season, the women’s tennis team about their latest victories and spotlighted incoming first-year students on the football team. I was more than 2,400 miles away and I was starting to feel closer to Cleveland.

Everything changed once I came on campus—or more like everything became so real once I got here. Sitting in person at the bottom of Thwing Center in the lounge-esque University Media Board Office with catered food was literally the only thing I looked forward to for many weeks my second year. And then there are the people. It was amazing, almost humanizing, to see all these peers I looked up to so much during my first couple semesters and meet them in person. Sara was still scary but had a sarcastic sense of humor that kept everyone laughing every few minutes. Shreyas was always instigating discussions and being forced to defend his hot takes. Everyone on the Editorial Board was always so easy and fun to talk to, creating a relaxed environment that was and still is a relief from the constant stresses of being a CWRU student.

Perhaps my favorite part over the last three years has been seeing how the culture of The Observer has transformed and grown while retaining its core philosophies. We were always an organization made up of driven writers with the ultimate goal of representing the true voices of the student body. But we’ve become more organized, more involved and more present on campus. Our social media page has grown thanks to Director of Digital Media Joce Ortiz and the digital media squad. Director of Design Auden Koetters and Designer Anjali Bhuthpur have been killing it, keeping the designs fresh and eye-catching. Photo Editor Clay Preusch makes sure those photos always look on point (I still can’t believe he’s a computer science major—it blows my mind every single time). Genuinely a shoutout to the copy editors over the last few years—Darcy Chew, Sahar Kapasi, Lexy Jensen to name just a few—who have been making my articles look way better than the occasional dumpster fires they started as. Director of Print Elie Aoun has been a great balancing force, keeping everything in line and making sure this organization continues to run like the well-oiled machine it is—mad respect for continuing Sara’s legacy. And of course, Shivangi Nanda, for being an inspiring executive editor and for elevating our club’s culture and camaraderie.

It’s genuinely hard to say goodbye to an organization that has been with me for as long as I have been at CWRU. I will miss the work, the Production Nights, the bonding events and most of all the people. I will always carry The Observer in my heart.

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