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Me When I Graduate: Farewell From the Editor

Updated: May 19


(Photo by Sophia Pallozzi)


Dear Reader, 


For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Barb Kay (they/she). By tomorrow, I will have been a senior journalism major and editor-in-chief of the school’s newspaper, The Purchase Phoenix. But tonight, I still am. 


I had written a letter at the end of March, naively thinking that it was only downhill from there. It detailed the experience of having started college online– a dead horse I have no interest in continuing to beat– and the relationships I cultivated through it, and how they’re some I have to this day. The letter mentioned how exciting it was to finally be on campus that year, and it still was. Watching the community come back to life, slowly but surely. The relationships I made and lost, and the education I started to receive in 3-D. 


My very first semester at Purchase I took journalism-1 with Professor Donna Cornachio. Through the screen, her passion was undeniable. And although I had written news articles before, I had a fresh perspective and the incentive to become a journalism major as soon as possible. I began to write for the paper reguarly when I got to campus, and in my second semester on campus, I was an intern for The Phoenix. I covered stories ranging from events and profiles, to protests and rallies. Throughout my journalism career, and for the rest of it, I strive to hold those in power accountable and share information with communities that will serve in their best interests.


The following year, I was managing editor, with Leah Dwyer, class of 2023, as editor-in-chief. She taught me what it means to lead with empathy and an open mind and heart. I had never been a joiner before– I was never a part of a team, let alone leading one. Yet,it felt so natural. Communication came as easily as dedication for everyone. And when my mental health deteriorated, I was hospitalized during winter break of 2023 for contemplating ending my life and began treatment to better understand what was going on. I was sure I wasn’t going to return to Purchase, and then I remembered The Phoenix. Those Tuesday night meetings kept me grounded and reminded me that the world is bigger than the warped one in my head. 


When I became editor-in-chief, Jenn Ward became managing editor. They say great minds think alike, but so do kind hearts. We took turns being the voice of reason and carried the weight for each other when the going got too tough. We drank a whole mess of raspberry iced tea while we wrote and edited story after story. Jenn is hands down one of the most talented and dedicated people I’ve ever met, and I’m forever grateful to call her my friend. I have not a single doubt that she’ll lead with dignity next year, with the ever so kind and strong willed Arlenis Marmolejos at her side. 


Without them, and our incredible team of reporters, I don’t know what I would’ve done the past two weeks. On May 2, pro-Palestinian protestors built an encampment on the quad. And while they were peaceful, the encampment was violently raided by police. We watched our friends, classmates, neighbors, and professors be brutalized. And our team instantaneously began to record, document, and interview. Without having to say it, we established a buddy system. We looked out for each other. 


Leni, Thomas Dachik, Natalie Tulloch, Belle Martinelli, Brandon Cruz, and Sophia Pallozzi, along with others, came back out everyday after. We bundled up in blankets (and Thomas’ jackets) and were there from early in the day until nearly 5 a.m. the next. We slept on the floor of Outback, ate so many snacks, and ran right back out when things began to stir. We stood our ground when the encampment was reconstructed May 3; when negotiations were attempted May 3 and 4; when an LRAD speaker was brought by police; covered the deconstruction of the encampment by UPD on May 5; and risked our safety and disciplinary standing time and time again. They even staged a coup when I suggested we report from a distance. Those beautiful bastards. I love you pookies. 


After the negotiations between the protesters and the administrators were all met to a certain degree on May 6, we watched as the protesters celebrated and began to write as soon as we got back to “headquarters” (a.k.a Belle’s apartment) and continued to write as Dr. Peña met with the residents of Broadview to explain what had been going on. While things seem to never end, we built a kind of trust that can barely be described. 


I am so, so, SO proud of these guys. I’m also so grateful to the entire journalism department- Donna (my rock), Professors Virginia Breen (my senior project advisor), Andrew Salomon (my advisor for my internship with The Examiner), Ross Daly (who graciously made sure we all passed freedom and the media), and so many others. You made us the journalists we are, and we’ll continue to take your lessons with us for the rest of our careers. 


To my family, I wouldn’t be where I am without you. The encouragement and support you gave me means everything and more. My Aunt Mady, Uncle Kevin and cousin Thomas always gave me something to look forward to. My cousin (and favorite person in the whole wide world) Catherine, who also graduated college (everyone say congrats, sweetie), who understands me like no one else. My grandparents, who have always cheered me on and gave me a home. My sibling WK for showing me what it means to stand up for what you believe in. And especially my parents– my dad who knows what it means to be lost in the labyrinth and my mom for always leading me out of it. For better (or worse depending on who you ask) I am who I am because of you all. 


To my friends, near and far, I can’t think of a single thing I could do without you. You’re all inspiring, supportive, kind, funny, talented, and have hearts made of pure gold. The high school friends who I don’t see often, but think of constantly. My Purchase friends, who have never given up on me. My friends who moved to Brooklyn, who make the world the best place. And Amanda, who has never left my side. You’ve all taught me what it means to love. 


And to Purchase’s administration, I implore you to do better. To care for your students as you would your own children. To respect, educate, and support them. I hope you have learned something from the power your students hold, and the resistance that only rises with each day. I am proud to be a part of such a wonderful community– a community fostered by the faculty and students and that has encouraged me to be my authentic, queer, and loudest self. 


Congratulations to my fellow graduates– your work and talent has been a joy to see! 


All my best and more, 


Barb 


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