Sometime around the start of senior year, I was riding the elevator up to my room in Harrison. Several freshmen were standing next to me, paging through that day’s copy of the DP. “How often is it published?” one asked. “Every other day,” another answered. “Nah, it’s once a week,” a third chimed in.
In clear violation of the sacred Larry David thou-shalt-not-speak-to-strangers-on-an-elevator code, I couldn’t help but interject. “Have you tried looking at the big letters on the front page?” I blurted out. (OK, so maybe I didn’t actually say that, but it would have been nice).
Early on in my Penn career, I was probably more like those freshmen than I’d care to admit. The first time I walked into the DP office, a windowless, mazelike place where, as I’d soon learn, a 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. production cycle can go by in what feels like minutes, I wandered around in a state of awe (cue sappy Sorkin-esque “Newsroom” music). How did a group of full-time students manage to put out a newspaper — and a darn good one at that — every day? How did any of them sleep? (Answer: They don’t).
My first DP assignment came a few weeks later. I was told to interview and write a mock profile of Catherine Lucey, a DP alum who at the time reported for the Daily News. One of my first questions to Catherine: What did you study at Penn? Her answer: I majored in the DP.
I laughed. (It was a line that I’d later hear repeated ad nauseam at Marquez every year).
Pretty soon, I’ll be telling future DP generations the same thing.
Over the last four years, I’ve had close to 400 bylines in the DP. I’ve written one women’s soccer story (they won, though the victory marked a somewhat unceremonious end to my DPOSTM days), several dozen higher-education roundups (among them, an especially memorable one about horse semen) and one particularly problematic endowment piece in which I swapped “million” for “billion” (we caught it at the last minute). I probably wrote 399 anecdotal ledes (that’s 399 shots, Prameet). And along the way, I had a chance to do some fun investigative projects.
But the most memorable stories, for me, were the ones that brought me a bit closer to the heart of Penn — the ones that introduced me to some of the lesser-heralded people who make our university the special place that it is. The Perelman School of Medicine professor with Lou Gehrig’s disease who had more courage than I can ever dream of having. The blind graduate music student who can play circles around any pianist I know. The Rwandan genocide survivor who saw education as his way out.
After four years, if there’s one piece of advice I have, it’s this: Go where your feet tell you to go. Maybe they take you to student government. Or maybe it’s to a performing arts group, or a class that you thought was out of your league. My own feet took me to those windowless offices at 4015 Walnut during that first week freshman year. I’m so glad they did.
There are so many people to whom I owe a deep debt of thanks for the last four years. Here are just a few:
To anybody who’s ever picked up a copy of the DP: Thanks. Seriously. The DP is nothing without its readers. Even the kids on the elevator.
To Anjali “We’ll Get To It” Tsui, my first editor at the DP: Thanks for your guidance and your mentorship, and for inspiring me to run for the 128. It made my Penn experience.
To all of my non-DP friends (wait, those exist?): Thanks for always being there, and for always understanding the days-late text responses and the breaking news-shortened lunches and dinners. I owe you one.
To Jen, Julie, Mike, Will and Sarah: You guys made my DP years truly unforgettable.
To all of my professors, especially David Eisenhower: As sleep-deprived and overworked as I was during most of my undergraduate years, you made me want to wake up every morning and learn.
And mostly, to Mom and Dad: You are, quite simply, the best, most supportive, most encouraging parents I could ever dream of having — and not to mention, some of the best copy editors the DP has ever seen. I love you.
Over and out.
Seth Zweifler is a College senior from Paoli, Pa. and a former campus news editor of the DP. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.Comments powered by Disqus
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