The independent news organization of Duke University

It’s all about the climb

senior column

I dislocated my knee sophomore year. A few weeks of hobbling from Few Dorm to Science drive later, I was finally certain that I could make my way up the three flights of stairs up to the Chronicle office. Huffing and puffing, I opened the door to 301 Flowers and, to the tune of the fellow staffers typing away on the Office couches and the 5pm Chapel bells audible through the open windows, I was met with an overwhelming feeling—completely unfamiliar to my time at Duke until that point. I felt at home. 

I joined The Chronicle not because I thought I was a good writer, but because I wanted to grow into a better one. A series of fortunate events later, I found myself in my first editing shift. I was overwhelmed by fear and self-doubt. The prospect of being a part of a team responsible for sharing our University’s biggest stories and relaying them in an engaging manner terrified me. I thought that there was no way I would make it through the year in a full piece. 

Give or take a few teeth (shoutout to the Few Dorm stairs for that loss) and much to my surprise, I did.

A year of hectic nights fact-checking to the tune of Country Roads and munching on snacks that had been sitting in the office for a suspicious amount of time later, I found myself so much more confident—and not just in my writing. I never expected that serving as a newspaper editor would guide me to a deeper understanding of my self-worth. But it did.

There are so many goodbyes that went unsaid because of COVID-19—closure to the end of my time at Duke that I’ll never be able to get. But even more unfortunate are the thank you’s that I never got to say, especially to The Chronicle.

Thank you for pushing me not just to embrace my voice, but to no longer feel shy using it. Thank you for pushing me to be relentless in our pursuit of sharing stories from every corner of the Duke community. Thank you for making me believe in the power of news media to hold individuals and institutions accountable.

Thank you for shaking my unwavering devotion to the Oxford comma. Thank you for frustrating me beyond belief. Without the Associated Press Style Guide and its arbitrary rules, last-minute roadblocks when fact-checking articles and sometimes flaky writers, I would not be nearly as patient of a person as I am now. 

Thank you for giving me an excuse to stop procrastinating on the days (much more frequent than any of us had anticipated) when we had to drop everything in the name of breaking news. Thank you for giving me an escape during the insufferable months it took me to learn to cope with my insomnia. Thank you for my daily workouts, up and down those three flights of stairs.

When I reflect on what I’ll miss most about the Chronicle, it’s not the occasionally sticky carpet and questionably murky water from the Office filter. It’s the people I spent all year sitting alongside in those rolling office chairs.

Thank you, Likhitha, Sam, Jack, Vir, and of course Kenrick, for letting me distract you for hours on end and always being willing to listen. You inspired me to pay it forward. Thank you, Stefanie, for your selflessness and for making me laugh in my lowest moments. Thank you, Sujal, for never letting me feel alone. 

Thank you, Nathan and Ben, for pouring yourselves into the paper and inspiring me to find the same purpose on my most bleh days. Thank you, Isabelle, for pushing me to be more creative. Working with you on Blueprint to bring to life stories of campus love drove me to appreciate how impactful storytelling can be. Thank you, Bre, for the love and passion you led us all with. You taught me the invaluable impact that understanding and compassion can have as a leader. Thank you, Lexi, for filling the walls of our office with color and grounding me in my most overwhelmed moments.

And finally, to my Chronicle, thank you for allowing me to cover the Duke community and find one within it, too. Thank you for giving me a home. 

Shagun served as senior editor of The Chronicle’s 114th Volume.

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