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.