The story continues for Duke’s Kellen Stepler

Katia Faroun | On a Duke production night my sophomore year, I read an e-mail from my phone to my editor at the time, Hallie Lauer. This fall, Lauer and I work together at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Kellen Stepler | features editor

Dec. 2, 2021

It’s hard to find the words to adequately sum up my last semester here on the Bluff.   

As summer was wrapping up and I was getting ready to start my last semester at Duquesne, I knew it would be a little tough. I wanted to make sure I lived in the moment, cherished every little opportunity I could and have fun along the way. 

I can very confidently say that I have accomplished that goal. 

I’ve packed my days with activities that I’m so tired and easily fall asleep at the end of the day. I’ve been able to hang out with some of my best friends – and make some new ones – that will last for life. I’ve had so many great experiences through my internship, job and everything else that comes up that I’ll always remember. 

I know what you’re thinking: “Didn’t the time go by so fast?” 

And here’s my answer: 

“No, not really.” 

But that’s a good thing. I don’t mean that negatively. 

I think that routines go fast. Doing the same thing over and over goes fast.  

I didn’t do that, though. The stories I’ve written for The Duke, and other publications, have opened my worldview so much, and have exposed me to different perspectives and ideas that have not only made me a better journalist, but a better person. 

That’s one of the greatest things about journalism, in my opinion – doing and learning something new every single day.

Sometimes it’s learning about a fencing team at a local high school. 

Sometimes, it’s about a man throwing a pumpkin at a woman who parked outside of his house. 

Sometimes, it’s about the history and community at a 300-year-old church.

And sometimes, it’s driving on a backroad through cornfields going to the ‘Ninja barn’ to interview two ex-Amish American Ninja Warriors – yes, you read that correctly.

(Did I mention I had a journalism internship in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania?)

There’s an old adage that goes, knowledge is power; but I think that it’s the unknowing sometimes that creates intrigue and keeps us invested. That’s what gives us a goal; something to work toward. If we achieve the unknown easily, then what’s there to accomplish?

What got a mother and her daughters into a career of school counseling?

What got a group of men to start a mentoring program for high school boys, with the goal of changing the negative narrative for African-American youth?

What got a group of college students to create projects to improve mental health and well-being at their campuses?

In journalism – and in life – we never lose that sense of wonder. Seize the opportunities you earn, live in the moment and chances are worth taking.

What I’ve noticed in the last semester is that there’s all but one thing that’s unlimited: and that’s time. In the grand scheme of things, time is constant, rolling society along.

I guess one thing I’ve also learned is to not think you’re “above” anything. Without getting philosophical, I think everything in life has a purpose, or a reason. We might not know it – heck, we might not ever figure it out – but it’s important to be courteous and conscientious along the way of whatever it is we are doing.

The next step of my career is being a reporter in the Old Dominion, and I’ll be ready for it, thanks to the excellent people that have helped me along the way and the wonderful opportunities I have had. 

And for that I am grateful.