I came to Duke without a clue in my mind. The first two years of college was a lot of stumbling— through a toxic relationship, an intense eating disorder, and depression that was kept hidden in my childhood bedroom for years but exploded into every corner and crevice of my life as soon as I came to college. The funhouse mirrors of my mind were so large and disfiguring that at times I thought I would stumble forever. But the thing I didn’t know about stumbling is that just as you can cluelessly stumble into darkness, you can stumble your way into the light.
By fall 2018, I was single, binging less, and met more friends than I ever had in my life. At the same time, my lifelong attraction to writing, asking questions, and scorning institutional powers was starting to pierce through the noise of external and familial pressures telling me a career is about accumulating wealth and prestige. I wasn’t sure what it meant to become a journalist and how one would go about that, but I did have enough sense to stumble into two very fateful rooms: Bill Adair’s office and 301 Flowers. The former welcomed me—with the most open arms—into a journalism program that now informs every sentence I write and question I pose. I’m here to say a bittersweet goodbye to the latter.
In one of my first visits to the office, then-senior editor Nathan Luzum gave me a tour. I recall being enchanted by every bit of that shabby old place—artworks sketched during idle moments of editing shifts, oxidized newspapers marking notable events in university history, partially slanted ceiling, drab couches that likely have witnessed a few too many things, and in general just stuff all over the place. I loved it.
My first copy—covering a panel discussion about NAFTA—was trash. The next one was too. And the next several. But with each story, I got a little less bad. Cathy Clabby’s Newswriting and Reporting class sped up my progress tremendously. Along the way, I had countless transformative reporting experiences that would not have been possible without The Chronicle.
One of my first stories covered the arrest and deportation of an undocumented Divinity School student. In the week leading up to Samuel’s deportation, his friends tearfully recounted to me their experience barricading the ICE van that held Samuel and the tremendous impact he had on their lives. I could feel a fraction of their pain and felt sorry that all I could do was retell their story. Two years later, I am still learning to form boundaries between me and my work, but I’m grateful that early on, The Chronicle showed me — a pisces sun and cancer moon — the intense emotional labor that can come with reporting.
In the following semester, I wrote a profile about Duke’s first and only female president, after slowly easing Nan Keohane into the idea of working with The Chronicle again and learning how interpersonal relationships are so central to journalism. In my occasional musings about life and what it means, I sometimes think back to our hours-long phone conversations and all the wisdom that flowed out of them.
The Chronicle also allowed me to stretch a part of myself that I never knew existed. Matthew needed someone to help him with laying out the send-home issue, which is sent to every student’s home at the end of the year. I told him I didn’t know how to lay out a paper. “You could learn,” he said. I instantly fell in love with the creative aspects of laying out a newspaper and the idea of creating something tangible for readers—so much so that Matthew and I alternated laying out the paper for a semester. I love how anyone in The Chronicle can just decide they want to learn something new.
These were the easy lessons. The hard ones were hard. I learned the importance of discretion. I learned that sometimes gossip is harmless, but most of the time it’s not. I learned how it feels to live with the consequences of a decision. I learned that when the time comes, I’m able to stand by my principles.
The Chronicle has both been my bane and my saving grace. 301 Flowers took me in when I felt like I belonged nowhere and gave me the space to grow from a confused and lonely child to someone I’m immensely proud of. This paper was also the reason for a few too many sleepless nights, aggressive arguments, and ideological disagreements perhaps too great for compromise. For all that I’ve gained, I would do almost all of it again.
Rose served as senior editor of The Chronicle’s 116th Volume. Even though she’s relieved to be retiring from student journalism, Rose is nothing if not grateful. She would like to thank Nathan Luzum for giving her that tour; Rebecca Torrence for being the absolute best; Matthew Griffin for all the good and bad times they had together; and perhaps most of all, Cathy Clabby and Bill Adair for keeping her grounded. Milla Surjadi—I’m putting it in writing that you’re forever my Chron mentee so I’ll always be around to talk and watch you shine. To newcomers—The Chronicle has more to offer than meets the eye, so take advantage.
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