The Old College Try

This week we’re putting the finishing touches on COMMS Magazine, which is the official alumni publication for BYU’s Communications Department. We were hired to produce the magazine over a tasty Thai lunch 20 paces down the sidewalk from our office. Department Chair Brad Rawlins may have hired us simply for our juxtaposition to one of his favorite restaurants. Or maybe he chose us because our staff is staffed with BYU alum. Either way, we’ve enjoyed the throwback to college life. Back in “the day” I was editor-in-chief of The Daily Universe at BYU and before that I was head honcho of The Scroll at Ricks College. For four years I saw sunsets out the newsroom windows. I was often tired and always hungry. But I still treasure the relationships and experiences of my backpack days as Jeanette Waite. One person I’ll never forget from my “old college try” is Anya Stolnikova, my Ricks College roommate. Her story of defecting from Russia fascinated this budding reporter. She probably got tired of my line of questioning, but she always had a giggle and a half English/half Russian response. Anya decided one day to make bread using our other roommate’s glass pan. When Anya (striped shirt) set the pan down on a hot burner, shards jumped all over our carpeted kitchen (we lived in a remodeled old folks home). Anya cried. Later I cried when I drove through the night to say goodbye to her at the Salt Lake airport as she left on a 6 a.m. flight to serve a mission for the LDS Church. And now I want to cry when I see this picture — mostly because of my hair. But also because of Anya’s influence. She lit up our apartment with more than hot glass. Her stories of Russia, Cuba and Canada broadened my non-passport life. (If you want to hear her delicious accent, listen to her story here. It’s long but good.) Anya and I have both been through a lot since our bathroom-sharing days. College is the perfect place to figure out how to be an adult. And a bread baker. And a journalist. When BYU communication graduates receive this issue of COMMS Magazine, I hope they’ll think back to their own Ramen days when they knew everything and nothing all at the same time. In other words, their old college try.