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Park: Reminiscing fondly on a unique four months

Everywhere I look, I see excellence oozing out of my peers like the filling in a freshly baked apple pie.

I don’t need to look too far; my roommate Avi has spent the last year honing his web development skills and will be one of the first employees at an early-stage startup this summer. My dear friend Nick is currently experiencing something he’s dreamed of for a very, very long time as an attendee of Apple’s WWDC. One of my closest new friends, “The Kater-tot,” as we call her, will be getting a head start on changing the world as she helps tackle some of the biggest challenges known to mankind.

Amidst peers that are doing such incredible things with their lives in the same timespan that I’ve had to develop something like that of my own, it’s often been difficult to justify to myself why I’ve spent these last four months as the Managing Editor of Sports at The Stanford Daily.

I can’t even begin to comprehend how many times I’ve asked myself the same thing: “Is this really the best thing to be doing with my time?”

I’m a chemical engineering major, for heaven’s sake. This job has gotten in the way of that identity in countless ways, from all of the time that I’m spending writing and editing and not reviewing lecture material to forcing myself to get started on problem sets at 3 a.m. — when most people have already long since finished. It’s led to tenfold more sleepless nights than nights of adequate sleep. It’s led to my poor GPA dropping to somewhere between the third and fourth circles of hell. It’s led to bad attendance in some classes and hastily finished problem sets. It’s impeded my academic career in probably every way possible.

Despite all that, I wouldn’t have changed a single thing about these last few months.

The managing editor job found me at a time of uncertainty in my life — I just didn’t have the drive for chemical engineering that I expected I’d have, and I honestly didn’t know what else could even come close to interesting me academically. Once I got comfortable in sports, I couldn’t see myself doing anything else for the second half of this year.

The biggest message that I’d like to pass on to Ashley is that this job wasn’t just a job; it was a lifestyle. When I first took the job, Sam Fisher warned me to take the lightest course load possible and to make sure that I wouldn’t be overextending myself. Like an idiot, I decided to do 20 units again — one of the worst decisions of my Stanford career.

But I’d gladly make that decision again in a heartbeat given the chance. Sure, I got my first-ever C, but I also learned the feeling of being in way over my head — something I quite arrogantly believed I would never face — that turned out to be one of the most valuable learning experiences of my life.

And all of those sleepless nights and 60-hour weeks writing and editing hundreds of pieces were well worth it for the countless positive experiences that they gave me.

How many 17-year-olds can say that they were credentialed media on the field at the 100th Rose Bowl? At the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum? For an international friendly of the U.S. Men’s Soccer Team? And while knowing that I’d be able to partake in those experiences alone would have made the managing experience special enough for me, they were far from what truly made the job so rewarding on a daily basis.

No, the true value came from the writers and editors that poured their efforts into the section alongside me.

I watched Michael Peterson blossom from a desk editor with just three stories under his belt into my most efficient, versatile writer and a close friend. I watched Cameron Miller take on stories that marked bigger and bigger challenges for himself and emerge triumphant every time, balancing the unforgiving schedule of a Stanford student-athlete with an unparalleled quality of golf and feature writing. Jordan Wallach entered the volume as the rookie; he leaves it as a capable veteran and the section’s premier stats wizard.

I could go on and on and on, but I won’t; I only have so much space, after all, and for most of them, those efforts and journeys speak for themselves in the high quality of their writing and editing.

And in the end, even though it’s not as lucrative or highly regarded as computer science or engineering, I’ve been able to continually justify my all-in effort with the sports section for the simple reason that I truly loved the job. I would wake up every morning (read: afternoon) eagerly looking forward to writing a story or two, attending a few events and editing my section for the night. I can’t say that about anything else I’ve ever done at Stanford.

I’m immensely thankful for having had the opportunity to serve in this position because, in that way, it allowed me to do what I loved and gave me tangible results to show for it. It gave me an outlet for a creative side of me that I never before knew existed and it allowed me to become a leader. It taught me accountability, and most importantly, it taught me how to write a 1,300-word water polo story after the team won a national title (I still know nothing about water polo).

But like all good things, this incredible experience is about to come to an end and I need to pass the torch on to the future of the section. And while it will be weird to not be in the office sculpting a section every night, I’m ready to move on as well. It’s time to resurrect my GPA and reconnect with my friends.

And while I leave this post no closer to knowing what I want to do with my life or what my future holds for me, I leave this post a better writer, a better leader, a better communicator and better aware of what is becoming my passion.

In terms of excellence, I can’t imagine what more I could have asked for — from myself or from my dedicated team.

Now that he’ll have the opportunity to begin repaying his monumental sleep debt, perhaps Do-Hyoung Park will sprout a few inches over the coming months. Pass along any recommendations for tailors or department store bargain-hunting tactics to dpark027 ‘at’ stanford.edu and Tweet him @dohyoungpark.

About Do-Hyoung Park

Do-Hyoung Park '16 is the head copy editor and a sports desk editor at The Daily. He has previously served as the Vol. 245 Managing Editor of Sports and primarily writes football, women's soccer and columns that he's pretty sure nobody reads except for him. Do-Hyoung is a junior originally from Seoul, South Korea and raised in Saint Paul, Minnesota pursuing a major in chemical engineering. To contact him, please email him at dpark027 'at' stanford.edu.