The art of storytelling: A&E editor reflects

Courtesy of Griffin Sendek | A classic 2020 portrait during our special Fashion Issue, a fond memory of mine.

Capri Scarcelli | A&E Editor

Dec. 1, 2022

Journalism is an art form.

I discovered this in 10th grade, when I was a shy student but a storyteller, a writer that held a world of ideas in a purple ballpoint pen. But like I said – I was shy. I didn’t think I was capable of walking up to someone and asking them questions, or making a phone call without my voice shaking, teardrops staining inked notebooks from anxiety’s chokehold. I joined though, became my high school’s arts & entertainment editor, then managing editor, then editor in chief. I won two Digital Media Advertising Creative showcase awards, I bid my farewell and I started again in college, going to The Duke, where home has always been for me: the A&E page.

What’s beautiful about A&E is its simplicity, its collaborative awareness of where others find like-minded joy. I started reviewing albums, movies, musicals, concerts and more, I then began to cover cultural festivals, local performers, sneak-peeks to new shows and even a public Q&A with former Nickelodeon star Josh Peck. At Duquesne, I was no longer that shy teenage girl – I became a passionate scribe, giving others the voice they need and the recognition they deserve.

As someone who went from covering senior prom to covering major city-wide events, I felt like I had a purpose, bringing to light what I thought would bring others joy. The rush of attending an event that you get to tell the story of and knowing every activity happening on campus and each little borough of Pittsburgh has kept me in the know. Journalism has helped me to advertise the hidden gems of this city that I’ve been so honored to share with those around me.

At first, I didn’t think I’d find my way back to a newsroom in college, considering journalism isn’t my major. I am a Secondary Education English major, a future leading teacher filled to the brim with love for teaching writing, teaching literature, teaching students the value of words and the power they hold. Then I remembered: I’m not a teacher yet, I still have time to write, to explore, to grow.

And I didn’t start right away, either. As an incoming freshman, I was falling out of everything that made me feel the most myself. I was trying to fit into a box that was suffocated by this perfect image of what a college girl is supposed to do, and I waited to join the paper because I wasn’t sure if the people around me would make fun of me for spending my Wednesday nights writing articles in the newsroom instead of ordering Insomnia Cookies and re-watching the “Bachelorette” for the 1000th time.

But I had a love for journalistic writing that I couldn’t give up, so I started sitting with Josiah Martin (2019-20 A&E Editor) and Ollie Gratzinger (2019-20 Editor in Chief) on Tuesday nights, where all I did was put in my Airpods and loudly clack away at my laptop as I silently listened in on their conversations at the table. This got me into a groove though, it got me to open up and be more confident in connecting myself to this room.

Sophomore year, I became a&e editor, reuniting with the section that has influenced my love for pop culture, for Pittsburgh and for cherry-picking weekend events I just knew had potential. I developed an eye for awareness, balancing story ideas I wish I could fill pages and pages of.

I was still quiet, eavesdropping on the other editors and smiling over their comradery. I was the youngest in the room, watching years of friendship flourish before me, and I was simply honored to sit and watch. Soon though, I started organizing “popcorn read edits,” jumping into conversations more, orchestrating staff games on the white board and bringing in snacks in case someone forgot to eat dinner. I was doing well as a writer, but I was learning how to take up space, and to make that space something inviting and comfortable for myself and others. I was worthy of that, and noticing that changed everything.

Kellen Stepler became the new Editor in Chief my sophomore into junior year, and soon became one of my best friends at Duquesne. I am so thankful for our “big J journalism” moments, and all the laughter that came to follow. Even better, Kellen texts me every single week for his Aquarius horoscope, even after graduating.

I was enjoying the newsroom more and more each coming semester, becoming more in-tune with myself along the way. I realized that there didn’t have to be a conventionality to my pages. My layout became filled with pastels, horoscopes filled with inside jokes between friends and a kind words column that helped me more than I could ever imagine to process my thoughts and share those words with others. I soon found out that some faculty members cut out that column weekly.

Slowly, steadily, I was becoming my better self – more involved at Duquesne than ever. I became more excited about my Pappert Chorale concerts, Red Masquers performances, Kappa Delta Epsilon meetings and recruiting new writers for journalism every Orientation Week, where us team leaders gave Burgh Bucks left and right to students willing to put themselves out there and get out of their comfort zone, just as I did what felt like only moments before.

Senior year, I finished my music minor in Rome, added on a second degree in English and received my student teaching placement – what I’ve dreamed of all along. I was a featured guest speaker at a local middle school to advocate for young students interested in journalism: to grab their colored pens, take a deep breath and take the leap of faith I did, too, years before.

Though I struggled with mental health throughout my time at Duquesne, I always knew I’d find solace on those Wednesdays, surrounded by kind faces and inspiring stories that reminded me of my worth and my purpose. My anxiety has left me feeling stranded at times, but I have fought hard to work alongside it to continue to do what I love.

I’ve made this section as a piece of me, three years of subtle changes and edits made, every Wednesday night, to put out a layout that was catching, that intrigued readers and invited in new audiences. Even if people only picked up my pages to laugh at their horoscope for the week, I could still count on walking into class and seeing huddles of students pointing at the bottom of the page and smiling, which means the long night before of fixing the sizing, leading, widows and word count was worth it after all.

But truly, it’s always been worth it. My current fellow editors are the most loving, courageous people I know, always putting the betterment of this paper before themselves. Building friendships with those only a decorated-cubicle away from me has changed my whole world here at Duquesne, and I wouldn’t want to share this experience with anyone else.

Thank you, editor staff, for supporting me through and through. Everything I teach my future students, I’ll take from you.