Masked Ambition

Colleen Hammond, Opinions Editor held back tears as long as she could as posing for the photoshoot | Griffin Sendek Photo Editor

Griffin Sendek | Photo Editor


It’s tremendous how much one email can throw a wrench in everyone’s lives. The punching of a few keys and the click of a single button and suddenly our lives as students are changed forever.

This photoshoot was planned a week ago to coincide with this once-a-semester special fashion issue. The thought behind it was fashionably done eye makeup paired with a surgical mask, being the “it” look for this oh-so-eventful spring was ironically hilarious. Perhaps we were being a little crass, and maybe a select few might be offended by the photo’s inclusion. However, it’s at times like this, when everything appears to have hit rock bottom, that being able to laugh at ourselves is one of the best ways to cope.

What was meant to be a fun take on a beauty photoshoot, making light of an otherwise terrifying state of the world, ended up being the most depressing and utterly heartbreaking photoshoots in all my years as a photographer.

Minutes prior to the shutter firing, we received the message from President Gormley that classes would be moving fully online for the remainder of the semester and everyone should start moving out of their dorm buildings.

Photoshoots in the makeshift photo studio in my Brottier apartment are nothing new to either of us — and something that has always been fun for us both.

Colleen is not one to cry easily, but what happened in this last week was enough to make anyone start bawling. With the message from the university came the immediate realization that this semester as we knew it was immediately coming to an end. She would have to say goodbye to all her friends, unclear of the next time she will see them again, pack up her entire room into the trunk of a car and head back to her home in Michigan.

“I was thinking about how the world I know is falling apart, how everything is shutting down, how we are entering a dark historic moment,” Colleen Hammond, opinions editor, said. “And I would have to face it all without my best friend by my side.”

Colleen held back tears as long as she possibly could as to not ruin the makeup and so we could still get the shot. But that didn’t make it any easier for either of us. In the photos you can see the tears welling up in her eyes; you can see her face tensing up fighting to hold them back.

While we have the advantage of not yet being seniors, several of our fellow editors are not so lucky. I do not envy any of them for being forced into the workforce at the worst time imaginable. My heart goes out to all the graduating seniors whose last few months of their college life were cut short without warning.

Sunday, the night this photograph was taken, the majority of The Duke staff attended mass on campus. Unknown to us, this was the last mass for the foreseeable future, as Bishop Zubik canceled all other services. Rev. Bill Christy spoke to the sparsely populated room, saying that we will “improvise, adapt and overcome./” Through this uncertain last week, we at The Duke have done exactly that.

This photograph is reflective of all our feelings and sentiments regarding the current situation, holding back tears and doing everything we can to remain healthy in these strange times.