By Kailey Love | Editor-in-Chief
“No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.”
In mulling over all the ways I could write the introduction for my long-dreaded Duke farewell column, I found that there was no better way to begin than by giving the quote that started it all. Passed onto me by Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society, a film that I still hold near to my heart, this is what sent me on the storytelling quest. Though it may be considered overly optimistic and altruistic, it is what has guided me through my academic career and continues to propel me forward. It is also ultimately what led me to choose Duquesne after one visit to College Hall 113 on my very first college tour.
As a Duquesne college freshman, I didn’t have many goals outside of eventually becoming an editor at The Duke. I stumbled through the same awkward beginning that is apparently commonplace for all first time Duke writers: An initial and unexplainable fear of the newsroom. Mine was particularly funny, looking back on it — the first time I ventured to College Hall to copy edit and begin my much anticipated tenure as a Duke staff writer, I was so intimidated just looking in the newsroom window on a Tuesday night that I turned right back around and power walked my pathetic self back to my dorm room. The aspiring journalist who couldn’t even enter a newsroom, can you imagine?!
Eventually, my ambitions overshadowed my awkwardness and I made my way down to 113 on a weekly basis. My occasional appearance at copy-editing sessions or budget meetings very quickly turned into countless naps on the couch and a messy desk full of coffee mugs, broken pens and crumpled papers. If my friends go looking for me, nine times out of 10 they always knew exactly where to find me. However, as time passed, most of my friends were already in the room with me.
My time at The Duke has given me a lot of things: Countless words written, pictures taken, interviews conducted and weird story assignments that turned into adventures. The most cherished part of my time as an editor, however, is the people I had the honor to work with. I am so lucky to have been able to work alongside some of the funniest, most talented and kindest friends I have ever known. They have made even the most unbearable weeks well worth my while, and I am so grateful for their good humor and support throughout the years.
Though the newsroom has proved to be a warm and welcoming environment (we all joke that it is our “second home”), outside its walls I have found a bit of a harsher reality. During my four years at the paper, whether a staff writer or editor, I have often run into unkindness or preconceived dislike from peers solely based on my association with The Duke. I don’t believe it ever pertained to anything particular I wrote, but the simple fact that I was a Duke staffer allowed people to pass unkind judgment on me or other writers without ever having spoken to us.
This never upset or bothered me, as I always felt it was mostly a testament to the importance of the hard work we put in each week. Even though it may have irritated some on campus, I could always find supportive voices in the Duquesne community that believed in the work we did and encouraged us to keep going. To go back to that Dead Poets Society quote, the good that our work can accomplish far outweighs a few bad reviews or unfounded negative views of my character.
However, if I had to leave the student body with any sort of advice on this subject, it is to take a step back and recognize that Duke writers don’t work for themselves. They work for you. The countless hours we spend writing, editing and creating this paper each week is to keep you informed about the good work done by your professors or student organizations. If we print stories that are perceived as “negative,” it is usually because something is being done that may hinder your Duquesne experience, and we want to call attention to it to spark necessary change.
To continue working toward these goals, in my stead I leave Ollie Gratzinger and Hallie Lauer, who will succeed me as our Editor-in-Chief and Managing Editor. I could not be more proud to be followed by two of the most gifted writers I know, whose ambitions and abilities will lead The Duke into another productive year. With the support of our incredible staff, I have no doubt that I am leaving the paper in the most capable hands possible.
The Duke editors I have worked with over the years, and especially those I work with now, have pushed me to become the best version of myself I can be, both as a writer and a person. My wish for them is that they receive the recognition they deserve for the fantastic work they do. Keep your nose to the grindstone and continue fighting the good fight, guys. I can’t wait to see what you will all accomplish.
Before I end this disgustingly long column (sorry, Ollie!), I would just like to extend a few more thanks to those who have supported and encouraged me throughout my time at Duquesne.
To my many mentors — Professor Maggie Patterson, Dr. Jennie Schulze, Dr. Kathleen Roberts, Father John Sawicki and our very own Duke advisor Paula Ward, to name a few — thank you for providing excellent advice and guidance to me throughout the years. I admire each of you more than you know, and I consider myself very lucky to have been able to learn from you all.
And of course, to my friends and family who have been a source of unwavering support and love throughout my time at Duquesne, none of my successes would be possible without you.
As I prepare to don my cap and gown next week, a line from Semisonic’s “Closing Time,” an enduring newsroom favorite, comes to mind: “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”
The Duke will always be my favorite beginning, and the most difficult to see end.