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Why I'm Grateful for Spoon this Holiday Season

So many reasons to be grateful for the Spoon Community!

Growing up, my family would always pop the question, “What are you grateful for this year?” during Thanksgiving. With our hands clasped and everyone gathered in a cult-like circle, we would rattle off answers like “passing the GMAT” or “getting engaged.” Sounds like a scene out of a Hallmark movie, right?! But that question got me thinking about my own life, how it’s progressing, and what “constants” in it give me satisfaction and fulfillment.

One of those constants is Spoon University. This past Thanksgiving, I realized how grateful I am to have contributed to Spoon for the last three years. So much has changed since Sophomore year (I don’t wear that chunky black eyeliner anymore!), but Spoon has allowed me to grow, develop, and strive for opportunities I never dreamed of before. Here’s a list of reasons I’m grateful for Spoon this holiday season and consider myself lucky to be part of something so close-knit and special.

1. I became a better writer and photographer through Spoon

Mackenzie Patel

I joined Spoon University during the Spring semester of my sophomore year (circa January 2017). I stumbled onto an ad for writers in the Gator Times, a (seldom-read) newsletter that in my dewy-eyed, underclassmen high, I thought everyone read. It was a call for “new writers, photographers, videographers, event planners and social media team members.”

I had no idea what Spoon was – I wasn’t even versed in food writing or a decent cook! To my surprise, my involvement with Spoon sophomore year sparked a frenzy of food writing and photography. I didn’t know what a charcuterie board was in the fall semester, and suddenly, I was writing 4 to 5 food articles a month in the spring. 

The articles were in a Buzzfeed style, but the descriptive words and the playful writing style I learned were extremely useful. During the Summer Intensive Writing Program, a program where participants published 5 articles a week with original pictures, I learned how to photograph with a DSLR, use Photoshop, and pair words with visuals. And don’t get me started on Spoon’s helpful Skills Training in Secret Sauce – my inner school nerd was cooing with pleasure.

2. I learned the definition of “community”

Photo Courtesy of Spoon UF

In 2017, the Spoon UF team was tiny and member attendance was sporadic, but the leadership team viewed Spoon as their communal child. These early directors, the ones who opened my chapter and kept it breathing, created a community of wine nights, recipe roundups, and “fun” meetings at Piesanos or Grill Fresh.

My first editorial director, Li, left an impression on me, and I wanted to be just as knowledgeable and calm as she was. Another big draw was the #contentcollaboration that proliferated in Spoon – for my first article, a photographer and I spent an hour arranging blue corn chips and salsa on my balcony. I’ve always been drawn to these “little creative projects,” so labor intensive for a ten-minute read. But I loved all of it: the prep, the precise chopping, the lighting adjustments in Photoshop.

The Spoon community wasn’t just limited to the Spoon UF chapter; I also met one of my best Spoon friends in SNAC, the Spoon National Advisory Committee. Funnily enough, her name was Sara (the co-founders of Spoon University are Sara Adler and Mackenzie Barth). We instantly connected because of our Indian backgrounds and love of Spoon, and we actually met in real-life this past December. : )

3. My leadership skills burgeoned under Spoon

Photo Courtesy of Spoon UF

For the 2018-2019 school year, I was elected to be the Editorial Director of the Spoon UF chapter. Leading Spoon made me incredibly happy, and I realized I loved building structures that other people could thrive in. Through Spoon, I was able to hone my leadership skills and reap the benefits of watching members grow.

The demarcation between “leader” and “writer” didn’t exist for me – they were one and the same. My chapter also won the Slushie Fund – a grant given to promising chapters to host an event on their campus, which we used to throw a free acai bowl event in Plaza of the Americas.

Forming friendships, collaborating on articles, and leading meetings was the highlight of senior year and made the rush of grabbing snacks before meetings (shout out to Mi Apa Latin Café) or dragging a folding table to campus from my apartment totally worth it. 

4. I got a job with Spoon HQ!

Photo Courtesy of Spoon UF

In January, Spoon HQ let us know they were hiring a “Community Support Specialist.” I didn’t understand the full picture of why this role was needed, but I applied on the first day and was interviewed by Spoon University Co-Founder Sara Adler shortly after. The rest is history!

For such an avid Spoon contributor and advocate, working for Spoon HQ directly under Sara was a major accomplishment for me. As the Community Support Specialist, I’ve answered questions from community members, moderated our internal Spoon Community social media groups and accounts and more. Working directly with someone like Sara (who was on the 2018 Forbes 30 under 30 list by the way!) was surreal – I was just a lowly writer in Gainesville, Florida!

5. Spoon introduced me to Her Campus

Photo Courtesy of Her Campus Media

As you may have heard, Spoon University was acquired by Her Campus Media last month. HCM is a major player in the college media industry; their portfolio includes (its flagship website), College Fashionista, and the InfluenceHer Collective.

One of the Her Campus co-founders Stephanie Kaplan Lewis had known the co-founders of Spoon when they were starting out at Northwestern University. The deal with Spoon is a natural extension of Her Campus, especially since the “power women CEOs,” as I’ve dubbed them, have known each other for years.

Becoming the main point of contact for Her Campus has proved invaluable and exciting. I am so thrilled that Spoon is still operating and that Her Campus is committed to providing it with resources, support, and time to rejuvenate. My new Her Campus team is welcoming, knowledgeable, and incredibly responsive – the average time between a message on Slack and its response is a few minutes. To go from writing about absinthe to being on a first-name basis with the founders of the “the number one media site for college women” is unreal. 

Not to mention Her Campus even sent me a box of Gigi’s cupcakes through BiteSquad to celebrate the acquisition and welcome me to the team- I still can’t believe it! 


Spoon is seriously rad and without it, my years in college would’ve been bland and missing a key outlet for writing and creativity. Shaving my legs with peanut butter or drinking ten La Croix waters in a day was some intense character development I wouldn’t trade for anything.

So for this holiday season, I’m grateful for Spoon University and the exciting stream of opportunities I’ve been given – not often does the cosmopolitan happenings of New York City and Boston come to Gainesville, Florida!