The Daily Tar Heel
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The Daily Tar Heel

Farewell column: Chasing my journalist dreams one last time

rajee headshot.jpg

Assistant Opinion Editor Rajee Ganesan 

The first thing I tell people in the newsroom is that I’m not a real journalist.

When I was little, writing was all that I wanted to do. In elementary school, I would turn in essays that were pages over the word count, and my second grade teacher once wrote to my mom, “We have to teach her to be short and sweet.”

It’s something I’m still learning.

In high school, I picked up The Daily Tar Heel every Sunday when I volunteered at UNC Hospitals. I knew then I wanted to write for it.

I told my parents I wanted to be a journalist — which, as immigrant parents, they obviously took very well. I think they were relieved when, a couple of years later, I found a love for science. 

I’m graduating this semester with a degree in quantitative biology, and I'm spending the next couple of years working on my doctorate in computational genomics at Carnegie Mellon University.

However, that also means I’ve never taken a journalism class at UNC, nor landed the same prestigious newsroom internships as my talented co-workers. I was not, and am still not, qualified to be on the editorial team here.

And from the excessive commas in my writing, the lackadaisical use of em dashes and my unwavering support of the Oxford comma (I left it in this sentence, but the copy staff will probably take it out), my lack of professional training was apparent in the beginning.

But through it all, I learned. I wrote about the University, research and some of my most personal experiences. For what felt like a long time, I was a little science kid who snuck into the newsroom and tricked the DTH elites into paying me, somehow.

I cannot thank everyone who was patient in teaching me enough to lead an entire desk, design pages and publish thousands on thousands of words of my writing.

But I’ll try. 

Thank you to the talented DTH management staff for letting me play journalist for the last three years.

Thank you Devon Johnson, the first opinion editor I had, for letting me have a science column and sparking what is now history. And Paige Masten, for all your mentorship and endless support.

Thank you, Ben Rappaport and Caitlyn Yaede, my best friends (and assistant editors) for making me better every day. 

Thank you Ira Wilder for being my rock — I wouldn’t be here without you. 

And a thank you to the Editorial Board and my lovely writers who made my job so much easier and who I literally could not do this without. 

Thank you PJ and Olivia for being the reason I came to the office early when I could, Heidi for threatening to delete my pages and slacking me for every minor inconvenience, my son Carson and Jeremiah for the high-fives on the way to the bathroom, Clay for all the flip-flop slander, Guillermo for all the banter and Chris and Maydha for the constant jokes about being minorities in the office. 

Thank you to Praveena — you amaze and inspire me every day, and your support made this year possible (and for letting Opinion go first during budget). 

And a little shoutout to my friends and family, who cheered me on from the sidelines every day for the last four years.

And lastly, a thank you to the DTH, for not only giving me a home, but for letting me chase my journalism dreams one more time. I don’t think I’ll know how much I’ll miss you until I’m gone.


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