Social Media Director
If you know anything about me, you must know I have a flare for the dramatics. That’s why I decided there was no better way to say goodbye than to narrate my Rowdy origin story for you. Brace yourself; it’s one of friendship, sleepless nights, and a lot of breaking news.
To say I was homesick arriving at college is an understatement. The year is 2020, and the town is Gainesville, FL. It felt like the wrong place at the wrong time. Like any coming-of-age movie character, I knew not a single soul and was looking for anything to make this college town my home and give me direction. Spoiler alert: it most definitely did not happen overnight.
What did happen one night, though, was Gabriela Moreno walking into my apartment freshman year, convinced that we had met before. It turns out she was the girl I met only once in high school who told me I looked “just like the girl in Austin & Ally.” She was also the girl who introduced me to Rowdy that same year. Talk about an invisible string.
While our friendship flourished outside our cherished magazine, it truly bloomed through our shared love of pop culture and the realization that we, in fact, share one mind. We spent hours debating which celebrity breakup was more important, how we could motivate people to vote or even which Gainesville neighborhood would be NYC’s own in the multiverse. We laughed, we screamed, we cheered and we did it all together. While I joke around that after all these years, I am Rowdy and Rowdy is me. To me, Rowdy is and will always be Gabi. I cannot wait to take on the world by your side in a few years. Thank you for giving me a creative outlet that helped me realize that maybe I AM good at this social media thing. Rowdy was the first piece of my puzzle. One that will forever guide me.
Because this is still MY moment to shine and have my name behind the post for once, I’ll keep the drama going and enter my Oscars moment era: the Thank You’s.
Averi, thank you for giving me the creative control to post all my intrusive thoughts and trusting me to fill in the large shoes you left behind. I’m sorry I let you down that one time I posted my vacation photo dump on the main.
Gabi, see above.
Juliette, thank you for helping me slay my dragons and easing my mind when the bots relentlessly tried to take over.
Bella, my work wife. No one else I’d rather be professionally (and not just!) attached to the hip to.
My friends and roommates. Thank you for putting up with me mentioning Rowdy in every conversation and listening to my rants about the algorithm and the occasional troll.
My team. Leading all of you this past year and a half as Director has been so rewarding and the greatest learning experience. Thank you for being silly like me and staying patient after my fourth “Update on today’s post?” text of the day.
The rest of the Rowdy family, it’s been a privilege working alongside you and I cannot wait to see where you take this publication next.
Finally, our followers. Thank you for the DMs, the comments, and the likes. Talk about an ego booster (except when user5362747 called me a millennial). I’m glad you never got sick of my celebrities at Turlington Photoshop jobs.
Oh no. It’s time. Five (and a half!) volumes later, my journey with Rowdy has ended. Now that you know the why and see the how, you may ask yourself, “What now?” The answer is simple. Rowdy will continue to do what it does best: change the lives of Gainesville creatives, adapt to its time, and bring people together as they form lifelong friendships.
Like any coming-of-age movie character, I end this story with my hair in the wind and the soundtrack of a lifetime playing in the back. And by that, I mean tears sticking my hair to my face and Taylor Swift’s “Never Grow Up” on repeat. If you learn anything from this chapter of my collegiate career, learn that you’ll find your home and you’ll find your village. Goodbye, Rowdy! I’ll always be cheering you on.
PS: Sabrina, may the social media odds ever be in your favor.
Esther Bitoun is a fourth-year Business and Advertising major, set to graduate in the Spring of 2024. She was one of the voices behind the Rowdy Instagram from Vol 6 to 10.