By Rebekah Devorak | Opinions Editor
“All good writing is swimming underwater and holding your breath.”
I pinned that F. Scott Fitzgerald quote onto the side of my desk that sat in a pod in the middle of the room. It was the first day of my junior year, and it was the first day – the first real day, at least – of my time as the Opinions Editor for The Duke. I hoped that the quote would inspire me every time I looked at it.
When you look at the outside of 113 College Hall, it’s not a very inspiring sight. It’s a shabby-looking white door with a large window next to it, usually half-covered by blinds that we couldn’t figure out how to close properly. Occasionally, there would be some doodles on the window in washable marker. Passersby rushing off to class probably wouldn’t have noticed much about The Duquesne Duke newsroom at all, unless they tripped over the newsstand outside of the doorway.
While the outside of 113 College Hall might be forgettable to the average Duquesne student, what goes on inside that room – beyond that shabby door with the convoluted lock system – will forever be remembered by the few who are lucky enough to be a part of its staff, of its operations. There were several times where I almost stopped coming to the newsroom – like after being recommended by a professor in the department to meet the then-news editor or after my first few visits when the atmosphere was intimidating – but I realize now that that would’ve been the biggest mistake of my life thus far.
I’ve worked at The Duke for two and a half years. I wrote once a week – and sometimes twice – regarding anything my heart felt passionate about, anything I thought Duquesne students deserved to know about, anything that I felt impacted them strongly. I’m too lazy to count the actual number of articles that amounts to, but it doesn’t even matter. It won’t be the work that I will remember. What went on inside that room beyond the page will always be the most precious memories to me.
I will always remember how we spent late nights passing the time between editing with Sporcle and Geoguessr games, basketball trick-shot tournaments complete with highlight reels and heart attack-inducing puzzle races.
I will always remember how we almost wrote about Kim Kardashian in the staff editorial instead of a meeting we stumbled into about libertine students that landed The Duquesne Duke in The New York Times.
I will always remember how a few editors and I trekked off to Connecticut for a Society of Professional Journalists conference that we ditched halfway through for an afternoon of hotel swimming, bowling and bar-hopping instead. Yale, where the party at?
I will always remember why we should never, ever let Arts & Entertainment Editor Sean Ray choose the film for movie night, no matter how hard he begs.
I will always remember how my sister and I waited out Fifth Avenue traffic post-Pittsburgh Penguins games by lollygagging around the newsroom. There was nothing sweeter than the spare bottle of sparkling cider we popped and downed after watching the Pens beat the Washington Capitals in overtime to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals and an eventual Stanley Cup victory.
I will always remember Bobby’s buffalo fries. I will always remember the first physical piece of hate mail I received for what I said in one of my columns. I will always remember Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush YouTube videos being played around the newsroom for no reason at all.
I will always remember how the most important person in my life sat two feet away from me for an entire year, and I didn’t even realize what the future would hold.
I have no idea how, or even if, my time at The Duke will impact my career in the future, but it doesn’t matter. Working with every single person in that newsroom, past or present, has made me into the person I am today. I value those friendships more than anything else, and it will be those relationships that I will remember from college forever.
It’s been an unforgettable two and a half years, if I do say so myself.