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Saturday, April 20, 2024
The Observer

Thank you, Lulu

This edition of The Observer will be very special for me.

It contains the last column I write for this newspaper and is the culmination of a three-semester stint as a member of one of Notre Dame’s most select clubs, The Observer’s Viewpoint columnists. Beyond that, it will also be my final journalistic endeavor for what will probably be a very long time. I meditated on what this column should be about for a very long time. What should it be about? I could once again produce an 800-word long tangent on history, current events or something about Notre Dame.

However, I have written about those topics enough and my mind chose to focus on writing about why I chose to write to begin with. As I sat in my usual spot among the sea of monitors in Hesburgh’s second-floor computer lounge, I meditated on my long relationship with journalism and writing and the one person who helped it come to life. This is what came out:

I love to write. Since grade school, I have always been the first one to volunteer to write out group projects, meeting notes and essays. Words are incredible to me. They can be hurtful, helpful, loving, divisive, healing or motivating. Words can be anything you want them to be. 

Knowing your way with words makes all the difference, and grasping the significance of the impact of the written word is one of the most valuable lessons I have learned so far. 

In another life, I surely would have been a full-time journalist. Given that I hail from Nicaragua, a developing country, I grew up hearing that whatever I studied in college needed to have a practical application that gave me sufficient knowledge and marketable skills to survive in an economy with very limited opportunities for niche and humanities degrees. It would be very hard to break through in a country that lacks a strong journalistic tradition. However, I did not let that dissuade me and discourage me from finding the avenues to develop what I consider one of my passions on the side.

During my final two years of high school, I took on the role of editor-in-chief of my school’s virtual newspaper, The Eye of the Tiger, and helped revitalize it in order to broaden its appeal within the school community. During my tenure, I expanded the paper’s total output and worked very closely with administrators, sports teams and clubs to cover school events more thoroughly and effectively. Upon arriving at Notre Dame, I took a year long hiatus from writing and journalism, as I devoted most of my time to adapting and getting familiar with my new environment. At the start of my sophomore year, I began to submit Letters to the Editor every now and then until that translated into an offer to come in as a regular columnist and contributor in the spring of 2022. Over the past year and a half, I have cranked out a wide array of columns covering topics ranging from Empress Dowager Cixi of the Qing Dynasty to the much-perfected art of stealing at Notre Dame. It has truly been a great experience. 

I would like to devote this final column of mine to one of the most important people in my life, Lulu, my aunt.

Without her, I surely would never have fallen in love with writing and journalism to begin with. Many moons ago, I would sit with her late into the night as she revised and edited interviews and articles for the magazine she ran. Eight-year-old me was thoroughly impressed with how raw chunks of text came to be transformed into carefully crafted pieces worth publishing on a national scale. To this day, we still keep an archive of all those magazines tucked away in an overflowing cabinet in my house. She was the one that instilled the power and importance of writing in me and consistently pushed me toward exploring the opportunities this field has to offer. Without your help and guidance, one of the most important parts of my identity would instead be a hollow void, forever unfilled. I believe your impact on my life cannot be quantifiably measured, but if I were to try, it would at the very least contain around 20 pieces published in The Observer, another handful in The Eye of the Tiger and two in the now defunct El Nuevo Diario.

In short: I love you, I love you, I love you. 

Writing for The Observer has been an incredibly rewarding experience over the past three years. A huge thank you to all those that encouraged me to join, edited my columns and read whatever it was I had to say. The acts of reciprocity, which could have been as small as “I read your column,” made every last bit worth it. As I close this chapter of my life and move on to the next, I carry on with the certainty that writing is one of the best tools we have at our disposal and using it for good is one of the noblest things a person can do. 

Until next time. Over and out. Hasta la victoria siempre. 

Pablo Lacayo is a senior at Notre Dame, majoring in finance while minoring in Chinese. He enjoys discussing current affairs, giving out bowl plates at the dining hall, walking around the lakes and karaoke. You can reach him at placayo@nd.edu.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.