Since my first Friday on Tech’s campus, in the early stages of my coffee addiction, I avidly read the Technique. I casually dispensed copies to friends and delivered to my parents a stack of the latest issues when I went home; everyone always told me I should join the staff, but I felt I lacked the skills to contribute to this integral portal into all things Tech. It was not until fall of my senior year that I joined the staff thanks to a kind invitation from my new biology co-TA. I never dreamed I would be invited to write my goodbye to Tech in this newspaper, but allons-y!

Before those early Technique fangirl days, I applied to Tech with an essay discussing my love for biology, including a nod to my favorite literary character: Dr. Hannibal Lecter. For some odd reason, I was accepted to this Institute, and I ecstatically joined the throngs of wide-eyed and bushy-tailed freshmen who avidly swore that the warnings at FASET about Tech’s academic difficulty would not apply to them. I thought that I would not have to worry about close friends and the drama they bring, just the academics; how on earth was the girl who wrote her admissions essay about Dr. Hannibal Lecter supposed to fit in anyways? I was such a noob.

Friendship at Tech is like a semi-permeable membrane. Freshman year, I was immediately inundated with so many people that some toxic ones got through. Tech is hard, to state the obvious, and dealing with the constant academic pressure can take its toll. This weight was compounded with the constant flux of incessant relationship troubles of others, weight comments, slut-shaming, aspiration ridicule and a variety of other toxins that oozed from some of the people who I let in. I found myself mired in constant self-doubt and depression.

Thanks to a random housing assignment sophomore year, I had the great fortune of having an older and far wiser roommate who saw the toll all of these influences were having. She rather bluntly reminded me that it was my choice who my friends were—a ridiculously obvious fact I had to learn the hard way. During this time when negativity threatened to consume me like a dementor, I realized she was right and that my membrane permeability needed to become a little more selective. Extricating the negative people in my life was perplexingly arduous, but it was one of the most rewarding decisions I made.

During this hard process, I embraced those positive people for helping me through that bleak time with a cup of tea and some Doctor Who, and I met others along the way who offered kind advice in office hours and pushed me to be a biology TA, my singular most rewarding experience at Tech.

I have learned that surrounding myself with these passionate and positive people can act like a patronus against the pressure and stress of this institution. Additionally, these people helped push me and remind me to revel when we do succeed.

My favorite film director Kevin Smith, in his naive state as a professional stoner, once said, “it costs nothing to encourage an artist.” Using the broadest definition of art and the practical lens of reality, I translate this to mean: Encourage people and do not tear them down. Therefore, if people let you through their semi-permeable membrane, be their biggest proponent, not a treacherous toxin. Celebrate the As in physics, the successful establishment of campus bee hives and getting through yet another four-hour synth lab session.

Therefore, I can think of no way more fitting to celebrate and thank all who have helped and traversed Tech with me than in the Technique. As I leave, I feel fortunate to have this portal back into Tech as well. From the fangirl to the proud alumna.