Editor's Desk

Coming Back Together

By Larry Peña
Editor Larry Peña walks hold a mask with his back turned to the camera.

Photo by Joe Johnston.

Writing this issue’s cover story, The Campus Comeback, was probably the most fun I’ve had at work in almost two years.

I’ve been working from home since March 2020 — a privilege, but also a challenge. My job involves finding and telling stories of people, projects and ideas happening in the vibrant, collaborative community that is Cal Poly, and that’s a little tough to do when we’re not all in one place.

But this September, I joined thousands of enthusiastic students as they set foot on campus for the first time — or for the first time in a long time. Photographer Joe Johnston and I documented the excitement, relief and joy that comes with being able to be all together again after 20 months of operating on standby.

We got to watch Cal Poly come back to life. We spoke to new students meeting their first college roommates. We met students nervously but eagerly preparing for their first time in a college classroom. We watched friends reuniting after months of Zoom-only interactions.

For the first time since March 2020, it felt the way college is supposed to feel.

The pandemic is still real — and we’re still taking precautions to keep our students, faculty and staff safe — but face coverings and vaccine requirements couldn’t dampen the excitement of people coming together to work, play, learn and grow.

It only felt right to document the rebirth of our campus community in our first print edition since the pandemic began. I hope you enjoy this issue as we celebrate Cal Poly coming back together in person and students coming face-to-face with the Learn by Doing experience.