Appreciate the good old days while they’re here


16 years later, it’s OK to laugh again

By Charlie Connelly

As “The Office’s” Andy Bernard once delicately put it, “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.” I know that the best is yet to come, but my time at Columbia certainly will be included when I reminisce about my “good old days.” 

I came to Columbia as a cocky 18-year-old kid from white suburbia, eager to make my lasting mark in the journalism world. Little did I know that just over two years later, I would be leaving the college as a Wrigleyville resident living with two lifelong friends and taking a full-time job in advertising. Life has a very interesting way of crafting your path, but every decision we make sets off our own chain of events. I could not be happier that I took the leap of faith to be a commuter at a college I knew virtually nothing about.

There are countless Columbia stories I could share, but there is one that truly explains who I am and who I want to be in adulthood. In high school and college, I worked at a family-run barbeque restaurant, Q-BBQ, where I would serve the same family Tuesday nights after they finished ballet class. Brian and Nicole were the best, and their children were absolutely adorable. Flash forward to February 2015, and I was attending my Columbia Admitted Students Day, eager to explore what my future held.

As I was riding on a Columbia elevator, I bumped into a familiar man who was wearing a beanie and had a thick beard. It was Brian from Q-BBQ.

In the past, we had made small talk about mashed potatoes and gravy or our shared janitorial experiences, but we never chatted about work. He told me he worked at Columbia, and minutes later, Brian Marth, now assistant provost for Academic Services, was in front of the entire crowd of newly accepted students and called me out.

Marth explained the importance of dynamic, engaging innovators willing to cultivate their craft. He told the audience we needed more “Charlie Connellys out there” to personalize every encounter.

That moment really stuck with me. My goal has never been to find my creative others or enhance my professional network but rather to make meaningful relationships with the people around me. Marth’s comments from that day have guided me in my pursuit of authenticity in my relationships ever since.

Since then, I have worked at three demanding internships and fronted the sales efforts of The Chronicle. I experienced great triumphs as well as defeats, but no matter what, I always had my Chronicle community beside me. Columbia isn’t always the easiest place to meet people, but The Chronicle helped me with that. Rather than sparking random conversation with a classmate, I had a family I could call my own in the newsroom.

Zoë Haworth is The Chronicle’s current art director, but more importantly, she is the sweetest person I have had the pleasure of knowing. Noah Kelly, who is like a brother to me, will take my place as the new ad & business manager. He is the most passionate person around and seeks the same kind of authenticity that I do in every interaction he has. Chris Richert, who is our general manager, has been a father figure for me at Columbia—in the same way he has been for so many others before me. He has praised me when it was necessary, scolded me when I was out of line and hugged me when I was in tears.

I’ve learned so much in my time at Columbia: Don’t live what you love. Continue to love what you live, and grow your love for your unique life each and every single day. Take risks, fall down, but get back up and continue to love yourself and your life for what it is. You’ll be happy you did.