Taking the leap

I didn't know how to start this column. So I jumped out a window.

I know it might sound crazy, but hear me out.

Ever since my freshman year, when I read my first series of senior columns, I've been obsessed with what I might write in mine. Because to me, senior columns represent that brief moment of clarity at the end of an experience typically wrought with confusion. And every year during the last week of classes, I pore through The Chronicle's edit pages, hoping that by reading the senior columns, I'll gain a better understanding of college, of Duke and perhaps most importantly, of myself.

But then when I sat down to write my own last will and testament for the world to read, I didn't know what I wanted my final message to be. So I thought about something else I've wanted to do at The Chronicle since freshman year.

There's a small bathroom on the second floor of the Flowers Building with an even smaller window that leads to a flat roof from which you can view the top of the Duke Chapel.

I've always dreamed of jumping out that window, laying on the roof and looking up.

And so this Sunday, I finally did.

That's the thing about jumping-you might not know exactly why you're doing it, where you'll land or what you might end up discovering once you're there, but sometimes, it's all we can do to know we're going somewhere.

Hopping out that window, though, is nothing compared to the leap I have to make off these pages, which have been my home and my love at Duke for the past four years.

Most people come to college and find love, whether it's with a subject matter, a cause, another person or in this school's case, a basketball team.

I came to Duke thinking I would fall for any number of these things; but then I found this newspaper and everything else became secondary.

Because more than anything, my experience at The Chronicle has taught me more about myself than I ever thought I could know. It has made me a better writer, a sharper mind and a stronger person. And I cannot imagine my life without it.

When I was in high school, I thought perfection was the means, the ends and the end-of-all-means: perfect grades, perfect hair, perfect resume. On paper, I was an admissions officer's dream. In reality, I was a girl who didn't know who she was. At Duke, I have been far from perfect. I wasn't the perfect editor, nor was I the perfect student. Sometimes, I wasn't even the perfect friend. There were days when I looked like the before shot on "What Not to Wear" and others when I tripped up the stairs en route to class.

But what I've come to realize, and what my experience at The Chronicle has taught me to see, is that college-like life-is not about becoming a more perfect person, it's about becoming a more impressive one.

And so if I could bestow any one piece of advice to you, it is this: be open-minded and passionate and thoughtful enough in your time at Duke so that when you get to graduation day, you are a more impressive person than you were the day you arrived on campus.

By being "impressive," I don't mean that you have to edit a newspaper, start a charity that builds schools in Africa or graduate Phi Beta Kappa. That's what High School Meredith would have told you. Instead, I mean that you should strive to become more poised, engaged and attentive in your approach to the world and the people around you, no matter what that world is or who those people are.

I have been so fortunate to be a part of this world here at Duke for four years and to meet people who have changed my life forever. I have wonderful parents, the best brother a girl could ask for and friends who have been my rock even on the most difficult of days.

But now it's time for me to make that leap, to let the fall take me to somewhere new and to continue to build on everything I've learned along the way.




Meredith Shiner is a Trinity senior. She is a senior editor, sports columnist and former sports editor.


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