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Home away from home

For many Duke freshmen, home quickly becomes a dorm room on East Campus or a favorite study spot in Perkins—wherever you spend more time than you can believe, where you find comfort, and where, on move-out day, you find it hard to leave.

My move-out day was a crazed few hours spent driving back and forth between the Blackwell parking lot and a storage unit 20 miles away. There were boxes and garbage bags and, finally, an empty dorm room. I knew that leaving campus for the summer would be bittersweet. There was so much to look forward to, but also so much to say goodbye to. As I buckled my seatbelt and exited the gates of East Campus, I reflected on my freshman year—experiences I’d had, people I’d met, and places I’d seen. Thoughts of The Chronicle inevitably filled my mind. More than any dorm room, group study, or booth at Vine, The Chronicle became my home away from home. My friends knew that if I wasn’t sleeping or studying, I was most likely at The Chronicle office.

I thought about weekly meetings, the graduating seniors I would miss, hanging out at the office just for fun, and the photos I had taken over the course of the year. Nostalgia followed the realization that I would be leaving my “home away from home” until the end of August.

My commitment to The Chronicle began even before I stepped foot on campus for O-Week. In my innocent, pfrosh days when I still read every Facebook post in every Duke group that exists, I came across one that inspired me to join The Chronicle staff. As soon as possible, I began attending info sessions and volunteering for assignments, excited to truly feel like I was part of something so soon.

Throughout the year, my work for The Chronicle began to feel less like a job or just another extracurricular and more like an interest—a passion. I became invested in the photos that filled the pages of the newspaper everyday. I realized that being a Chronicle photographer meant far more than just taking pictures. It meant unique, inspiring experiences, new friendships, and the excitement of seeing my name and photos in print; it meant sitting in on interesting panel discussions and being close enough to touch Coach K. The events I attended opened my mind to affairs on campus and in Durham, all while indulging my love of photography. Working for the paper all year seemed like a privilege and the best possible way to be a Duke student in a way that felt meaningful.

I strongly encourage anyone who has any interest in photography, writing, or campus in general to join The Chronicle family. Immediately, I found the photo department to be welcoming, supportive, and an incredible learning experience. I have worked alongside fellow students who became mentors and friends, some with an impressive photography background and some with no experience at all.

The Chronicle has taught me the importance of true commitment, even on late nights spent refilling ABP iced coffee too many times while editing photos for the next day’s paper. I have always welcomed responsibility as a way to deepen my connection to The Chronicle and to show my appreciation for everything that I feel I have gained through my involvement.

I am grateful to have found a home away from home at The Chronicle and eagerly await the next three years.

Lily Coad is a Trinity sophomore and Sports Photography Editor for The Chronicle.