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Credit: Sydney Curran

Of the dozens of campus tours I’ve given for the Kite and Key Society, each one has been different. I’d switch out old stories for new ones or change how I’d present information to prospective students and their families. The start of my tours, however, always remained the same:

"Penn was founded in 1740 by Benjamin Franklin. He was a founding father of the United States, printer, inventor, and so much more. Franklin didn’t like to be defined by just one thing, and that’s the spirit we love to embody through interdisciplinary experiences here at Penn."

I said these lines almost every week for my three years as a tour guide, yet I never thought of internalizing them myself. Even though I had varying interests both inside and outside of the classroom, I defined my identity as the girl who worked for The Daily Pennsylvanian for the majority of my time as a Penn student.

The DP was the first organization that I joined at Penn. As a lonely first-year student going stir-crazy in my bedroom due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I elected to join a club during my spring semester to give myself something to do outside of my schoolwork. After aimlessly scrolling through the Penn Clubs website, I stumbled upon the DP’s page. My high school didn’t have a newspaper, so I was weary of writing. But I’ve always loved grammar. Thus, my love of copy editing was born.

Everything after that point was a blur. I entered the DP’s Pink Palace for the first time when COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, learned the intricacies of fact-checking and style editing, and realized that I was part of something much bigger than myself. I sought leadership as soon as I was able, and before I knew it, my entire world revolved around the DP.

I prioritized the DP above all else. I’d push off assignments to edit articles, tune out in class to look over a breaking story and cancel plans with friends to take on extra DP work. Even as a deputy copy editor, the DP was a full-time job. And when I finally became one of the two head copy editors on the 139th Board, I felt like I was always working overtime. If I wasn’t actively editing, I was thinking about the DP. I kept my phone on me at all times, anxious that a breaking story would suddenly come through and I’d need to edit at a moment’s notice.

It slowly dawned on me after my first semester as copy editor that this life was no longer sustainable. The DP was negatively impacting my academic life, personal relationships, and mental health, and there was only so much more I could handle. Coinciding with the fact that I had just been elected summer executive editor — meaning I hadn’t taken any extended time off from the DP in two years — I knew that I needed change. So what did I do? I accepted leadership positions in other clubs alongside my work at the DP.

To the naked eye, this decision seemed insane. But what I realized in my first semester as copy editor is that I didn’t know how to tell the DP no. I took on work that I didn’t have to simply because I didn’t have a reason not to. With new responsibilities elsewhere on campus, particularly with Kite and Key and Social Planning and Events Committee Connaissance, I learned that it was okay to take time away from the DP to pursue other opportunities that excited me. These leadership roles taught me how to manage over 100 people, plan large-scale events, and work with major Penn offices, which is something I did not have the ability to do at the DP.

This was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made at Penn. Finding other communities on campus made me realize how much I loved the DP. That’s not to say that my other communities were lesser than — they certainly weren’t — but taking a step back from the DP allowed me to appreciate the work that I was beginning to resent. I didn’t always groan when a new article to edit was sent to me, nor would I dread having to go into the office. For the first time in a while, I was excited about the DP.

This new perspective allowed me to grow even closer with my DP community. My love had never waivered for them before, but my changed outlook made me appreciate their support so much more. It takes a village to keep the DP going, and I am so grateful that I got to work alongside some of the most passionate and motivated people at Penn.

Julia was the best co-copy editor I could ask for, and our work would not have been possible without the dedication of our wonderful copy deputies — Charlotte, Diamy, Eleanor, Laura, Maddie, and Riley — and our equally amazing copy associates. Emi, Imran, and Walden were such strong leaders throughout my time on board, and they believed in me when I could not believe in myself. I am also thankful for Alexis and Caleb, the 139 sports editors, who welcomed me with open arms when I wanted to give sports writing a try as a junior.

My time at the DP would not have been possible without the people who came before me. I am grateful for my copy editor predecessors, Brittany and Sophie, and am also thankful for Delaney, Jonah, and Tyler, who started as my mentors but ended up becoming my closest friends.

I always ended my tours by saying that if I had to go through the college application process 100 times over, I’d still choose Penn every time. The same goes for the DP. My time in the Pink Palace taught me to be detail-oriented, how to work under pressure, compromise with people who you may not agree with, and — most importantly — the difference between an em-dash and an en-dash. Despite the bumps in the road, I’m so glad that the DP was the headline of my Penn experience — even if it took me time to appreciate it fully.

ALLYSON NELSON is a College senior studying English and American history from Philadelphia. She served as a copy editor and the summer executive editor on the 139th Board of the DP. Previously, she served as a deputy copy editor, sports reporter, beat reporter, and a copy associate. Her email is