From the Department of English Language and Literature, to the front page of the Daily Lobo, Loreena Cain covered the University of New Mexico with her stories.
Now, Cain is ready to open the next chapter of her story.
Cain graduated from UNM this week with a Bachelor's Degree in English and Philosophy. It took her just three years to complete, even as she bounced from music to archeology and eventually to writing.
“My mom wanted me to do english and philosophy because ‘no one will get a job with a philosophy degree.’ I don’t know how much english will help,” Cain said.
UNM wasn’t Cain’s first choice.
Initially, she wanted to go to Ft. Lewis — a liberal arts college in Durango, Colorado — an hour north from her high school home in Farmington.
But the price difference — Ft. Lewis charges just over $7,000 per year for tuition compared to UNM’s $5500 for the year — convinced her to stay in state. From there, UNM was her choice. The pull of Albuquerque and the prospect of a bigger city then Farmington made it certain.
Cain was assigned film history student Johannah Casebolt as her roommate.
“She seemed kinda quiet at first,” Casebolt said. “We both were.”
Casebolt and Cain were both in the marching band at UNM as well as the Gamma Iota chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi, a co-ed music fraternity. Cain didn’t intend on joining Kappa Psi, she was convinced by a few friends.
“My second year, I would go to (Kappa Kappa Psi) meetings and no one would speak to me the whole time I was there,” Cain said.
She said she didn’t enjoy the events and never had fun with the group, but it was the only social group she had.
“I didn’t really want to be friends with them and they didn’t really want to be friends with me, but I didn’t try to make other friends or know where to make other friends,” Cain said.
Like many students in their early years, Cain struggled to find community at UNM. She described the period as “confusing mostly,” but found solace in the Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen.
In the musical, teenager Evan Hansen struggles finding friends until a classmate, Connor, commits sucide. Hansen pretends to have known Connor and invents a role for himself in the tragedy. Hansen also struggles with mental health, having recently survived a sucide attempt himself.
After engrafting himself into Connor’s family, Hansen eventually confesses his lie and confronts his mental health struggles.
“The way (Hansen) talks about his anxiety and the way he experiences it on stage… it felt real,” Cain said. “He didn’t have any friends and I didn’t have any friends, he kinda felt like someone I could relate to if given the chance.”
In her final year at UNM, Cain said she found her place.
She became a student reviewer for Blue Mesa Review, a literary magazine at UNM. She also became an editor for Limina, formally called Best Student Essays, and a staff writer at the Daily Lobo. She said her mom kept all her copies of the Daily Lobo.
“It feels like I had finally figured out things in college,” Cain said. “And it all was taken away overnight.”
Both the Daily Lobo and Limina moved online, along with Cain’s coursework as UNM shuttered to prevent further spread of COVID-19.
Coronavirus warped Cain’s post-college plans as well — but it didn’t destroy them.
Before COVID-19, Cain imagined herself working in journalism in and around Albuquerque. She planned to eventually move to New York City.
“There’s an energy about it that’s like nowhere else in the world. It just feels like that's where I belong,” Cain said. “Maybe that’s silly and naive, but I just love it so much… It’s where everything happens.”
When COVID-19 hit, Cain was one of thousands of students forced to move off campus. She was also one of the thousands of students to receive a housing refund.
She said she plans on using that refund to move to New York City, once the virus subsides.
Justin Garcia is a Senior Reporter for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Just516garc