My leap of faith

farewell column

On the eve of 2022’s Last Day of Classes, I stayed up in The Chronicle office until a whopping 12:30 a.m. While others around me were celebrating the start of Volume 118, I was fighting for my life to keep my eyes open.

Up until then, you’d never catch me awake after 11 p.m. I was a firm believer in a strict sleep schedule, rigid to-do lists and consuming exactly three meals and two snacks every day. Essentially, I was a robot.

But I was a robot who loved to write, so when I was a first-year, I joined The Chronicle. I wanted to learn everything I could about the University and write about it all at the same time. In my mind, this was the perfect plan, and I had my college extracurriculars all figured out.

I dabbled in editing during my sophomore year. Naturally, this meant I hung around in the office more for my editing shifts. While staffers tossed mini basketballs and ping-pong balls at each other, I heard others tossing around phrases like “campus watchdog” and “accountability journalism.” I didn’t know the meaning of those words yet, and just how much they applied to The Chronicle.

So why did I take the leap of faith in my junior year to take on one of the organization’s largest roles? Truthfully, I didn’t have a very profound or concrete explanation — perhaps I thought I’d be making an “impact” on the University, whatever that meant. But I was confident that I was doing something good, and that I’d find my reason along the way.

When the clock struck midnight on that fateful LDOC though, reality sank in. I was now a member of The Chronicle’s uppermast, who were notorious for their nocturnality, for having zero work-life balance, and for constantly being bombarded with breaking news and questionable emails from random people. I also now had the ability to push a button and publish a story or tweet for tens of thousands of people to see, which was all too much for me to comprehend.

I’ll admit, the first few summer months were difficult. It seemed that every time I was away on vacation, bad things happened. I struggled with staying up late to edit and fact-check stories, which were the basic tasks that were expected of me. I posted a string of tweets on The Chronicle account, only to realize there were typos, so I had to delete them all and repost them, only to realize my reposted version contained another typo. (This cycle repeated itself five times.)

Looking back, I wish I could tell myself that the summer was just the beginning. When the other editors and I returned to campus in the fall, there were new writers to train, plenty of stories to write and many more to edit.

From August onward, V.118’s momentum never stopped. I operated on pure adrenaline — I’d interview a source in the morning, draft up a story in the afternoon, give feedback to a new writer in the evening and then edit a couple stories in the office at night. Then I’d go to sleep, wake up and do it all over again.

It was exhausting, but gradually, I found it exhilarating. With every story we published, I saw how V.118 was painting a picture of Duke and its changing social landscape: we captured all sides of the University’s transition into QuadEx, its reception and the aftershocks it caused, the realignment of student affinity spaces and many things in between. Each editing session with a new writer also meant I was helping to train the next generation of Chronicle leaders. Documenting history and teaching others how to do it, I realized, were two beautiful and powerful things. 

The zero work-life balance that I had been bracing myself for never came. Yes, I’d dedicate 30 hours to The Chronicle on some weeks and I spent many late nights in 301 Flowers, but I fed off the energy of the staff around me. Together we’d work so that Duke’s sleeping campus would have news to read when they awoke. There was also time to tell weird stories and crack bad jokes, so editing sessions sometimes just felt like a group of friends hanging out. On mornings when I woke up to breaking news, it became instinctive for me to whip out my laptop and crunch out a brief while I was still groggy and bleary-eyed — but there was always the feeling of accomplishment when the work was done. I did indeed receive a couple of questionable emails, but I received many more from people telling The Chronicle to keep up the good work. And instead of feeling afraid of hitting the “publish” and “post” buttons, I learned to push those buttons with a purpose. I felt proud to share the hard work of all our staff with the world.


On the eve of this year’s LDOC, I’ll probably have no trouble staying up late in the office. As I look back on the highs and lows of the past year, I’ll also think about how I didn’t abide by a strict sleep schedule on some nights, how maybe my to-do lists lost some of their rigor, and how perhaps on some days I ate more snacks than meals. But I’ll laugh at myself and think about how that’s all besides the point, that this year changed me for the better in much bigger ways. When the clock strikes midnight, the realization that my tenure has come to an end will slowly sink in, and I’ll reflect with certainty on how taking that leap of faith was the best decision I have ever made.

Katie Tan is a Trinity junior and was managing editor of The Chronicle’s 118th volume. She would like to thank Jake Sheridan and Chris Kuo for being the first two editors she worked closely with. She would also like to thank all of the lowermast and uppermast for bringing such great vibes to the office at each editing shift. She is grateful for Mia Penner and Senou Kounouho, her two awesome mentees who she is sure will go on to do great things for the University. She also wants to thank past managing editors Nadia Bey for always being one text away and Nathan Luzum for introducing her to the art of goalsetting. Lastly, she’d like to thank Chrissy Beck for being the force that holds The Chronicle together, Kathryn Thomas for her incredible spreadsheet abilities and curiosity for life updates, and Milla Surjadi for literally everything she has done to bring V.118 to life. 

Katie Tan profile
Katie Tan | Digital Strategy Director

Katie Tan is a Trinity senior and digital strategy director of The Chronicle's 119th volume. She was previously managing editor for Volume 118. 


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