To say this year was a rough one would be an understatement. It was a year of self-discovery and change. And complete anarchy.
I was three years into my college career, and I realized I wasn’t studying what I actually wanted to study. So I switched from neuroscience to a nutritional science and French double major. I realized that just because I could study brain science, didn’t mean I had to. I took night classes to earn my personal training certification. I studied abroad again, moved apartments, and completely altered my career goals. Despite this riptide of change that sucked me father out to the brink of madness, Cactus served as a buoy of constancy in my life. My little corner of the basement became a safe space. Through all of the revolutions that shook the ground beneath my feet, I always had spreads to edit or proofs to finalize. And there was comfort in that.
I will always remember toiling away in the HSM basement and the people and little details associated with it. Cactus partially defined my college experience. Obviously it wasn’t easy to serve as the EIC while trying to earn 2 majors and work part-time. But every second was worth it and never once did I regret taking the position.
Yearbook has been a part of my life since my freshman year of high school. There is an inexplicable sense that maybe only yearbook nerds like myself can fully appreciate. It’s felt when I hold a crumbling copy of an 1895 Cactus Yearbook, flipping through ancient photos of former longhorns. They are probably all dead by now but their yearbook photos remain a reminder of their existence on the same campus I walk through every day.
But today, yearbooks are less popular. This is especially true in the face of a declining appreciation for print media in general. In a day and age where people can access thousands of photos at the swipe of a finger, some people would argue yearbooking a dying art. While yearbooks are not selling nearly as much as they used to in days past, there is still an importance to print and continue the tradition. Luckily, Cactus, while struggling to gain a foothold amongst the student population, stubbornly persists. As the longest running publication on campus, the Cactus is more than just a book. It is a time capsule that will outlast whatever apps and programs pop into and out of existence over the years. It is something that will stand dignified on archival shelves until students hundreds of years from now leaf through them, as I currently do with the oldest volumes of Cactus. And it will, strangely enough, continue to stand on those shelves long after you and I have died. This book will join those made by longhorns all the way back to the 1800s. A smartphone, an ebook, a laptop can’t replicate that tangibility. And that is why I’m proud to put my name on the 124th edition of Cactus and place this book beside those made by my 123 predecessors.
Because at the end of the day, technology will continue to change and people will be drawn to the newest and most convenient. But Cacti plants are hardy and enduring. The metaphor couldn’t be more perfect. Cacti don’t have petals. They are adaptable, tough. They have spines because they know how to survive and flourish where they shouldn’t be able to. In the hottest and driest parts of the world, cacti thrive because they shove their roots so far down into the earth and persist. Similarly, the books we print are rooted in the University’s earliest days of existence and will persevere.
As aforementioned, this year was not easy but it would have been absolutely impossible were it not for the support of so many people at TSM. While I can’t thank everyone, here are a few people that really made this publication possible.
Gerald Johnson: Thanks for all of the support. I know I had a lot of trouble being consistent as far as attendance and things go. I appreciate all of your understanding and flexibility. Thanks for all you do to ensure students have a voice on campus.
Peter Chen: I honestly don’t know how I could have survived this year without your calm demeanor and great listening skills. You are more than an advisor- you’re basically a therapist. Thanks for the advice on everything from copy-writing to life in general. You are the real MVP that keeps all the hard-working students sane.
Emily Rogers and Stephen Salisbury: Being a salesperson, advertiser, and proponent for yearbooks is perhaps the hardest job I could think of. Thanks for all of your effort in keeping Cactus alive. I can’t wait to see what you come up with in the future.
Frank Serpas: Thanks for keeping the gears of the HSM grinding.
Paula Adamak and Walsworth: Thanks for working with us and being so flexible and understanding. I appreciate all your hard work in making this publication possible.
Christy Zhang: Words can’t express my gratitude. Having worked with you for three years, I feel like you are more friend than “coworker.” You have such an amazing head on your shoulders and you kept me from straying too far off the deep end. Thanks for holding my head above water this year. I look forward to all the amazing things you accomplish in the future.
Zoe Foe: There are some staffers that just never need to be supervised. You belong to this category. Whenever I needed something, you had it ready for me right away, plus some. Thanks for being the most amazing photo editor I could’ve asked for.
Jesus Acosta: You have serious talent as an artist and I feel immensely blessed to have had you on my team. I’m still amazed how quickly you can churn out high quality illustrations and graphics and I know you’ll be a famous designer some day! Thanks for all your hard work.
Hailey Wheeler: I am so appreciative of you. Whenever I needed something done, you were on it immediately and I never had to remind you. Thanks for being my go-to girl for everything.
Rebecca Fu: I know being a social media editor for Cactus isn’t easy. So thanks for being creative and giving it your best.