When I arrived at Penn four years ago, I had no idea what I wanted to do, or even who I really was. I’ve lived through several versions of myself. There was musician me, who played piano as a kid and French horn through high school. There was athlete me, who spent dozens of hours each week in a sweaty gym flipping and tumbling into oblivion. There was student me, who locked herself in her room nights and weekends studying for tests and papers that seemed so important back then, and so inconsequential now. And then there was journalist me, who wrote for and edited my high school paper, and figured — why not join The Daily Pennsylvanian?
I’ve never looked back.
As I sit at what used to be my desk, in what used to be my office at the DP, I’m overcome with emotion. Gratitude for all of the memories that I’ve had in this iconic space — windowless yet full of so much light and life. Honor that I was able to be the DP’s first Black editor-in-chief, and have a role in shaping coverage to be more reflective of the University and the surrounding community. Pride that I’ve been able to find my voice as both a columnist and reporter and use it to fight for justice and equity at Penn. And of course, a little bit of relief that I’ve successfully passed on the baton to my successor, and can now read a “University Notification” without jumping into overdrive.
Yet, underneath all of those feelings, there’s worry. I often feel that I’m split into two identities — being a Black woman and being a journalist. I have dedicated the past four years to trying to mold those identities, and in doing so, worked to bridge those communities at Penn. Some of the projects the DP spearheaded to achieve that goal include capitalizing the letter B in Black in January 2020 — a feat we achieved five months before our peer collegiate publications, as well as local and national publications like the Associated Press, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. We also launched a paid diversity fellowship with mentorship from our alumni of color, and prioritized racial and ethnic diversity in our selection process by modeling our applications on those of equal opportunity employers.
I’m proud of how far the DP has come, and I’m hopeful for our continued progress, but I’m also fearful. Fearful that, due to the media industry’s legacy of being predominantly white, and its deep-rooted history of racism, our changes can be reversed at any moment. Fearful that we might not ever have another Black editor-in-chief. Fearful that the advances we’ve made toward rebuilding our relationship with Penn’s Black community and other marginalized groups of color could come to a halt under another editorial board.
While representation matters, and I truly do believe my term signified at least some sort of institutional change and hope it inspired other young Black reporters to join the DP like I was inspired to do four years ago, our progress is thanks to the entire 137th editorial board: our tireless news department, my dear friends and editors Conor, Pia, Hannah, and our executive editor Ashley, who would have spent the entire night in the blue room, if needed, to ensure their reporters handled coverage and sources with respect and care. Our copy department, steered by the intrepid Brittany, whose attention to detail in fact-checking is unmatched. Our opinion department, which Alfredo took to new heights by recruiting thought-provoking guest and staff columns. Our sports department, which Lochlahn and Brandon made sure went beyond sports recaps to sharing the athletes’ stories and identities. Our audio-visual departments, led by Kylie, Sophie, Isabel, Evie, and Sunny, which took our coverage one step further by humanizing it. And of course, our diversity chair — and fearless 34th Street editor-in-chief — Bea, whose passion for reporting with integrity motivates me to be the best journalist I can be.
I am tremendously grateful for the passion every single person on our editorial board — and every single person on staff — brought to the office every day. They are the root of our progress and our success.
As the newspapers in the office from my tenure begin to yellow, I’m reminded that life will go on once I leave the hot pink walls of 4015 Walnut Street. But I am proud of our role in documenting history at Penn. From the entire COVID-19 pandemic, to Wharton’s first Black and first woman dean, to student protests for PILOTs and against police brutality, to the end of Amy Gutmann’s presidency. Our journalism has served as evidence of not just my time here, but that of the entire Class of 2022.
So thank you to the Penn community for reading my stories — some of which feature my own voice; many of which feature the voices of your peers. And thank you to my DP family for giving me the platform to share these stories.
While I sometimes feel as though I’ll never be ready to move on, I know the DP has given me all that I need: reporting, editing, and writing experience; the chance to work as a team; and lifelong friends with whom to share my future journeys.
Thanks again to everyone for their support, goodbye for now, and as always, read the DP!
HADRIANA LOWENKRON is a graduating College senior from Maplewood, N.J., studying urban studies and journalistic writing. She was The Daily Pennsylvanian’s editor-in-chief on the 137th Board of Editors and Managers and previously served as a copy editor, beat reporter, and opinion columnist.