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The Daily Bruin knocked me down, but I came back stronger -30-

(Anika Chakrabarti/Assistant Photo editor)

By Rachel Durose

June 6, 2021 4:44 p.m.

If you had told me my freshman year that I would be writing a -30- column for the Daily Bruin’s Graduation Issue, I would have laughed.

You see, I was rejected by The Bruin my first year.

At the time, I had no serious interest in journalism, so I was not too disappointed. I had other organizations I was involved with and plenty of family issues to keep me busy during my first year of college.

But when I decided to reapply in the winter of my second year, that initial rejection became a catalyst for doubts that I didn’t even know I had.

I combed over my application obsessively, and after I finished it, I decided to show it to my twin sister – an award-winning poet, a graduating English student from the University of Pennsylvania and an Opinion columnist for The Daily Pennsylvanian. I had expected, and almost hoped, she would tell me it needed a lot more work.

If I never submitted it, I couldn’t be rejected (again).

Luckily, my sister was nothing but encouraging. And when I was accepted by the Daily Bruin Opinion section a few weeks later, she was the first person I told.

Unfortunately, the joy of being selected as an intern and beginning my training was short-lived. As a first-generation college student, I struggled to feel like I deserved to be in the newsroom.

So, I sabotaged myself. If I could blame my failures on not trying, rather than not being good enough, then I wouldn’t have to face my fears of inadequacy. It took me two quarters to finish my News requirements, and when the draft of my first Opinion piece was due, I only had one source rather than three.

I didn’t understand how to navigate the social or professional aspects of life as a student journalist, and I lacked the confidence to do it on my own.

The summer after my acceptance, I was living with my sister. I told her I had finally finished my first Opinion article that I had started nearly two months ago. I also told her I was too scared to submit it to my editors.

Her response was clicking the Camayak “submit” button for me.

While my feelings of inferiority did not disappear with this one article, the fulfillment I felt while working through edits and writing my next story was something that no amount of self-doubt could overshadow. I adjusted to the rhythm of deadlines and found comfort in the guidance of my editors.

And then, a little less than a year after my first Daily Bruin Opinion column was published, something hit me.

I didn’t just like writing, I loved it, and I loved writing for a newsroom.

I spent the following months applying, interviewing, writing and grappling with a new wave of imposter syndrome. It was hard to believe I deserved success when everyone around me seemed to have been interning with prestigious newsrooms and working as editors for their entire college career.

I was just a writer. But my sister and future mentors would all tell me, “It’s never too late.”

And it is because of that advice and the challenges The Bruin provided me that I will begin working as a careers fellow at Insider this month. For the rest of 2021, I will be covering industries and leaders that have motivated and inspired me my entire life, and I could not be more excited.

I still feel some self-doubt writing this -30- column. I think about the way most staffers will see my name and photo and not recognize me. It makes me wish that during that first year, I had felt comfortable turning to the newsroom’s leaders and peers for the encouragement I needed.

But, despite these social struggles, there are some special people who brightened my Bruin experience.

Thank you to my first team of editors – Lucy, EJ and Lena – for helping me through my growing pains as a new journalist. Thank you to my final team of editors – EJ, Sabrina and Jake – for encouraging me, trusting me and promoting me to senior staff.

Thank you, Andrea – even though our paths didn’t cross in production, knowing there would be a friendly face in the office when I walked in for edits was a bigger relief than you could know.

Thank you to my sister, Sophia, for not gatekeeping being the writer in the family (even when I wanted you to).

And thank you, Kristie. Ironically, Kristie was one of the assistant editors on that first Daily Bruin team I applied to (and was rejected from). I didn’t know it at the time, but four years later, she’d be one of my biggest supporters and the reason I had the courage to apply to Insider.

This wasn’t the -30- column I expected to write

But Kerckhoff 118 wasn’t everything I expected it to be – it was everything I needed it to be.

DuRose was an Opinion columnist 2019-2021 and Opinion senior staff and News contributor 2020-2021.

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