Griffin Sendek | Multimedia Editor
“What are you looking at?” were the first words spoken to me in Room 113 College Hall, the newsroom, as the section editor tried to persuade freshman-year me to join the journalism staff.
With no journalism experience whatsoever and fully convinced that my writing ability was purely dismal, I walked into The Duke open house solely interested in photography. However, the Arts and Entertainment editor managed to get ahold of me first and convinced me to give his section a shot.
I still remember writing my first article, a movie review on Tomb Raider (2018), with complete trepidation. I truly thought the editors were going to rip the thing to shreds. Then, it was published with positive feedback and I saw my name printed in the newspaper for the very first time. It was at that moment I realized that this whole journalism degree might not be a complete and utter mistake. I stumbled my way into this college, into this major and into this newspaper and I’m still stumbling my way out.
I arrived four years ago very lost with no idea what I wanted to do. This paper became a sort of guiding light, a beacon of support, with assistance and friendships that pushed me in the right direction to find what it is I love. My camera and I are attached at the hip, literally. It’s rare that I go anywhere without it. I doubt there’s hardly anyone I meet that ever associates me without one.
As I scramble across campus going on my weekly photo scavenger hunts for each issue of The Duke, I always wonder if anyone ever recognizes me as “that blonde dude with the camera.” But that wasn’t always the case. I really only began taking photography seriously sophomore year and I didn’t take my first portraits until the spring. Since then, I’ve been able to grow so much; it shows how much can really change in the span of two years. If this virus has proven anything, it’s to never get too comfortable with where you’re at, because it can all change faster than the click of a camera’s shutter.
No one planned for their senior year to end this way. These last two semesters were meant to be spent surrounded by friends in a collective last-ditch effort to have as much fun as possible before taking the deep dive into the “real world” and becoming an actual “adult.”
COVID-19 has stolen moments from all of us that will never be returned. Perhaps years worth of anxiety, heartbreak and isolation jam-packed into a sweet little package has expedited years of learning and wisdom. It’s a lesson that no matter what you prepare for, life might always have other plans.
Who knows what this year would have been had it not been for COVID-19, but dwelling on this alternate reality is a waste of time. What I do know is that this past year has taught me more than any recent memory. I’d like to think if freshman Griffin could see me he’d be proud.
There’s so much advice I wish I could go back and give the little guy: first of all, get a haircut. Given the chance, there are many things I’d do differently, but without a doubt, joining The Duke isn’t one of them.
Something I learned along the way that I will always carry with me is that the power of a good story or decent photograph has the power to make someone happy. It’s something I will not grow tired of. Seeing the pure exhilaration and joy that some people get when you reveal that their story is important and that you want to share it with the world is absolutely unmatched.
Journalism has the capacity to do so much good and the power to enact change. But it also has the ability to make someone’s day, to bring a smile to their faces — and that will never grow old. As excited as I am to graduate, to say I’m not a tiny bit afraid would be a bold faced lie. Finding a job in the midst of a pandemic isn’t exactly an easy, nor exciting, process. But wherever I end up, I can confidently say there will always be a camera not so far away.
Even if I stray away from the world of journalism, I will strive to always find a way to keep telling stories. 113 College Hall became a home away from home. I loved this place, I loved spending time here almost more than anywhere else, and I fell in love with everyone inside. Wednesday nights, despite being work, were always something I looked forward to. There are forged memories within these pale blue walls that I will never forget.
Years down the line when I’m looking back at my time at Duquesne University, the newsroom will be the staple of my college experience. That room will always hold a place in my heart. I find it difficult to say goodbye. I often don’t know when’s the right time to let go. I wouldn’t give up my time at The Duke for anything; the newsroom has been a home for four years, it really pains me to just walk away, leaving it all behind. But for once I know — it’s time for me to go.