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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, June 15, 2024

The Daily Class of 2024, in their own words

Eight senior members of the Daily reflect on their accomplishments, memories and plans for the future.

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Members of the Daily's senior class are pictured.

Editor’s note: The Daily’s editorial department acknowledges that this article is premised on several conflicts of interest. This article is a special feature for Commencement 2024 that does not represent the Daily’s standard journalistic practices.

As Tufts’ newspaper of record, the Daily sees many students contribute to its black-and-white newsprint pages, but not all work their way up to its masthead. The Daily staff spoke with eight members of the Class of 2024 who have all served on the newspaper’s managing or executive board and left their mark on the organization’s history.

Aaron Klein

Associate Editor, Spring 2023

Executive Audio Producer, Spring and Fall 2022

By: Michael Onysko

Aaron Klein’s journalism experience started many years ago, working for both his middle school and high school newspapers. He served as editor in chief of the latter.

Coming to Tufts during the COVID-19 pandemic, Klein decided he wanted a break from the world of journalism and initially strayed away from the Daily’s doors. But come his sophomore year, Klein’s friend and fellow senior Peri Barest persuaded him into joining the Daily. Barest, a former associate editor, knew Klein had multimedia experience and could help her run “The Rewind” — the Daily’s news podcast.

Klein said that he worked on just a few stories and only minorly helped with editing. But, “lo and behold,” one of his projects caught the eye of the then-executive audio producer Hannah Harris (LA’22), who showed it to the Managing Board. The Daily’s managing editors asked him to become the next audio executive, and the rest is history.

“It was a rapid exposure to the Daily,” Klein said.

Klein reflected on his time serving as executive audio producer two semesters in a row before eventually moving onto the Managing Board, serving as an associate editor in spring 2023.

“There’s part of me that will always be a creative-minded person and loves getting my hands dirty and loves putting in the hours to develop and edit podcasts,” Klein said. “There’s also a part of me that liked being in a more managerial, oversight role when it comes to the M-Board. … I might give the slight edge to audio [executive], just because it was a unique and fun role, and I had a lot of room to play with it. But I loved my time on the M-Board too.”

Klein added that one of his favorite memories was when the Daily’s Executive Board embarked on a trip to the Tufts Mountain Club’s Loj, located in New Hampshire.

“That was just such a great time,” he said. “We went on hikes through the rain and just made s’mores, sat around a bonfire [and] shared stories and laughter. [It] brought me closer to a lot of people. … I think that trip honestly is where a lot of my serious friendships in the Daily were really solidified.”

Klein said that he loved writing satirical content and overseeing the April Fools’ paper design, which was a mock tabloid in spring 2023. Because Tufts’ admitted students day fell on the same week, Klein said, he enjoyed seeing parents pick up the satire edition and either put it down or “laugh their heads off.”

“That was just hilarious to me,” he said.

As audio executive, Klein started an initiative called “The Daily Read,” having reporters read aloud their articles to be embedded on the Daily’s website as an audio recording. He called the initiative one of his most meaningful contributions.

He also expressed his appreciation for the Daily’s community and for allowing him to grow as a person.

Klein also noted that he believes he holds the Daily’s record for having his jokes quoted the most times in a single night in the organization’s Slack channel: around 30 times.

“[That] should tell you something about me,” Klein said. “Perhaps good, perhaps bad, but I always like to try to bring laughter. I’m the self-dubbed newsroom clown, and I’m thankful for the people in the Daily who are more serious and keep me grounded — and for the people in the Daily who laugh at all my stupid jokes.”

Caroline Vandis

Associate Editor, Fall 2023

Executive Social Media Manager, Fall 2022

Alumni Liaison, Spring 2024

By Ishaan Rajiv Rajabali 

Caroline Vandis began her time at the Daily during her first semester at Tufts, but because of COVID-19 restrictions, found little in the way of what she was looking for in the Daily’s office: community. Now famous for coining the term “Dailmunity,” she pinpointed the spring of her sophomore year as a specific turning point in her Daily journey.

“Coming into the office was so, so fun when you actually meet people there,” she said. “I looked forward to it so much, and I really wanted to be more involved. [But] I did not want to become an executive copy editor because it was too much of a time commitment.”

She shied away from the position due to time constraints, but in a twist of fate, ended up spending just as much, if not more, time in the Daily office regardless — but as the executive social media manager.

“I loved every minute of that,” she said. “The managing board at the time — Chloe, Ty, Julia, Delaney, Abi and Charlene — they were the best.”

Vandis considers her “Friday Advice” Instagram series from the same semester to be her most meaningful contribution to the Daily.

“People would come up to me and say, ‘I love your advice column,’ and I would say ‘Oh my God, that’s crazy!’” she said.

She also holds the distinct mantle of having written an article in all the Daily’s major written sections: news, arts, features, opinion and sports. 

“I was talking to Daniel Vos, former executive news editor, and Matthew Sage, current executive news editor, and they were both like ‘How are you on M-Board if you’ve never written an article?’ and I was like, ‘So true.’” Vandis laughed, then made it her goal to fix that.

“I feel like I really got to know the Daily better and build my understanding of what the organization is,” she said.

Winning MVP of the Daily’s 86th Executive Board remains one of her highlights till date.

“It gave me validation that what I was doing was meaningful,” she says.

Moving onto the Managing Board herself, however, Vandis said she sought to expand the Daily’s reach.

“I think the Daily has sort of a reputation on campus of not really reflecting the student body properly,” Vandis said. “I knew our relationships were kind of fractured with a lot of the student organizations on campus. So last fall, when I was on the Managing Board, I was trying to work with these organizations to rebuild those relationships so we could really make our coverage well-rounded.”

She continued that while it was difficult to separate personal relationships from professional ones at the time, she is ultimately glad that it broadened the scope of the Daily’s reporting.  

Vandis has held many titles at the Daily — copy editor, executive social media manager, ‘M-boarder’ and more. But most Daily members recognize her instead for her warmth, humor and positivity that she consistently brought into the office.

“The Daily, to me, means community,” Vandis said. “It’s such a special environment where there [are] so many different people … and getting to work with all those different personalities … is so special. I feel I’ve found my place at Tufts through the Daily.”

Charlene Tsai

Production Director, Fall 2022

Executive Layout Editor, Spring 2022

Assistant Production Director, Spring 2024

Social Committee Co-Chair, Spring 2023

By Shannon Murphy

It was fall of 2020, and first-year Charlene Tsai was taking all her classes from home. Looking for something to do remotely, she started attending the Daily’s layout section training sessions on Zoom.

“I think I just really liked the idea of having a physical product, and they said you don’t need any experience to join. So that’s what drew me to [the Layout section],” Tsai said.

Four years later, Tsai’s Daily career has included being executive layout editor in spring 2022, production director in fall 2022 and Social Committee co-chair in spring 2023.  

Pursuing degrees in both psychology through the School of Arts and Sciences and studio art on the School of the Museum of Fine Arts campus, Tsai has a creative spirit and a passion for seeing her work come to life.

One of Tsai’s favorite contributions during her time at the Daily was overseeing the production of the weekly print paper containing an investigative piece in fall 2022.

“I just remember Chloe [Courtney Bohl] telling me that Ethan [Steinberg] and Aaron Gruen wanted a very specific attention-grabbing front page,” Tsai said. “So, I just got really excited hearing that because usually we just have the same kind of format for the front page, [and] it was nice to hear that they already had a vision.”

To Tsai, this project was special because it involved close collaboration across multiple sections.

“It was really nice because … we were able to work across multiple sections, like layout, photo and editorial.” Tsai said.

One of her favorite memories outside of the office was a trip to the Tufts Mountain Club Loj with the Managing and Executive Boards in fall 2022. After several semesters of social distancing measures in place, Tsai emphasized the success of this trip in creating a more bonded community within the Daily.

“It was nice to be able to hang out with people outside the office, and I think that was our first time,” Tsai explained. “Because for the execs, we all just get together once a week on a Sunday evening in a random room in [the Joyce Cummings Center] and … [sit] around a table and talk. So, it [was] nice to just not [do that]. … Everyone was just able to hang out, have fun and not have to talk about anything Daily-related.”

However, working in production roles at the Daily has not been without its challenges. Tsai referred to the newspaper as “the biggest on-campus group project.”

“When you’re working with so many people, everyone has very different working styles and people also care about different things,” Tsai said. “You might care about this one little detail about the print paper and then no one else cares about it. So, [you learn] how to advocate [for] what you care about and make space for other people to share.”

Tsai has never written an article for any of the editorial sections of the Daily and does not plan to pursue a career in journalism, but she believes her time with the newspaper has still given her valuable insight for the future.

“I’m going into education, so I don’t see how [the Daily] necessarily relates to it,” Tsai said. “But I will say that a lot of the skills you learn from the Daily are very transferrable.”

Chloe Courtney Bohl

Editor in Chief, Fall 2022

Executive News Editor, Spring 2022

Executive Investigative Editor, Fall 2023

By Estelle Anderson

Chloe Courtney Bohl is known as a legend among the staff of The Tufts Daily.

In the words of Ty Blitstein, fellow senior and former associate editor, “[Courtney Bohl] is one of the best leaders I have ever worked with. She is so dedicated, intentional, capable. [She’s] the rare person that can come up with great ideas and then also put them into practice.”

Before her tenure at the Daily, however, Courtney Bohl knew little about journalism, let alone whether it was the path she wanted to pursue. What she did know was that she had a passion for writing, which led her to join the Daily on a whim during her first year.

“I signed up for the Daily News section because I … wanted to see what it was all about,” Courtney Bohl reflected. “I didn’t know at the time that it was going to become one of the biggest parts of my college experience.”

It didn’t take long for Courtney Bohl to rise in the ranks of the News section. As an assistant news editor, she covered the Tufts Community Union Senate beat, attending and reporting on weekly Senate meetings. The next semester, she served as a deputy news editor and co-produced “The Rewind,” a podcast dedicated to discussing Tufts news. During her sophomore year spring, Courtney Bohl was promoted to executive news editor, before assuming the role of editor in chief the following fall.

Being news [executive] was hard. It was intense. It was a lot of work. Being EIC was the same thing: just feeling the responsibility and wanting to be supporting all the people that you’re working with, who are working for free to do something really important. It can be emotionally intense and labor intensive,” Courtney Bohl reflected. “[But] if I had to go back and do it again, I would do it again 100 times over.”

Throughout her time on the Daily, one of Courtney Bohl’s main goals has been increasing coverage of Tufts’ host communities.

“This was something that was important for me to focus on beginning when I was editing the News section,” she said. “Each of [Medford and Somerville’s] legacy weekly print papers had been bought by … a hedge fund and merged into one digital paper, so basically … the local news ecosystem in our host communities was really suffering. Papers were disappearing, following trends in local journalism all around the country.”

As executive news editor, Courtney Bohl prioritized assigning and encouraging more local news pitches. Later, as editor in chief, she published a Host Communities special edition, featuring local content across all sections.

“The types of local journalism that the Daily can do extend beyond news and can be really meaningful and impactful for people in our host communities. [The Daily’s articles] can also raise awareness among the Tufts community of the wonderful, amazing [and] complicated things happening in their backyard,” Courtney Bohl said. “Bursting that campus bubble a bit … was something that was really important for me to focus on.”

After spending a semester abroad in Paris, Courtney Bohl returned to the Daily as the executive investigative editor. That same semester, she co-taught the Daily’s Experimental College course, where she coordinated reporting field trips for the class and brought in guest speakers, including former NBC President Neal Shapiro (LA’80).

“She’s an ‘I-knew-her-when’ sort of person,” Ty Blitstein, Courtney Bohl’s co-teacher and former associate editor, said. “We’re all going to be able to say someday, ‘I knew her when she was editor in chief of her college newspaper.’ She’s off to do great journalism things. We’ll be reading her byline for a long time.”

After graduation, Courtney Bohl will join the 2024 cohort of Report for America, a service-oriented fellowship that places emerging journalists in local newsrooms across the country. Courtney Bohl is headed to North Carolina, where she will report on local politics and government for INDY Week, a Durham-based newspaper.

“I would never have gotten this job or even realized that journalism was my passion without the Daily,” Courtney Bohl said. “You can draw a straight line from me joining in fall 2020 to where I am now, which I feel super lucky for. It’s changed everything for me, in that way.”

Elizabeth Foster

Associate Editor, Spring 2022

Alumni Liaison, Spring 2023

Education Committee Chair, Fall 2023

Executive Layout Editor, Spring 2021

By Teagan Mustone 

Elizabeth Foster joined the Daily in fall 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic with two clear goals: “learn Adobe InDesign and see people in person.”

Despite the six feet between her and her colleagues, Foster immediately found a supportive community within Tufts’ student newspaper.

One of her fondest memories is the late-night push to finish the Commencement Edition during her sophomore year spring as an associate editor.

We finally finished it and we celebrated by popping bottles of champagne,” Foster said. “Again, this is still spring 2022 so everyone’s still masked — you can be a little closer than six feet — but the pictures of that era remind me of so much.”

During her junior fall abroad, Foster kept close ties to the Daily through her column, “Liz in London.”

It encouraged a lot of reflection and … required me to journal in order to have things to share,” Foster said. “I’m really grateful for that opportunity to be able to have some recording of my time abroad.”

Thanks to the online Daily archive, Foster can see how she has grown so much even just a year and a half later.

I think I wrote at some point about … realizing you’re not afraid to go out to dinner alone,” Foster said. “That’s still an experience I really enjoy — being able to read a book and go to a restaurant and have that to myself and not necessarily bring technology and not be limited by other people’s schedules.”

As a senior, Foster is the author of the column “Confessions of a Cooking Fanatic” where she shares recipes and her love for food.

Graduating is bittersweet for Foster, but she looks forward to the new challenges. At commencement, Foster will graduate with a master’s of science in computer science. She currently holds a bachelor’s degree as a part of a makeshift 3+1 program.

Foster plans to move to Minneapolis to begin her career as a software engineer, but she sees journalism in her future.

As an avid Strands and Wordle player, Foster’s dream job is as a software developer for New York Times games. She also thinks about the possibility of being a technology correspondent, employing both her computer science background and experience at the Daily.

“It would be really fun to be a quantum computing correspondent, especially as it becomes a more viable technology,” Foster said. “So I do see journalism down the road or at least like to include it somewhere in the mix.”

Through all her roles and experiences — in the basement of Curtis and the pubs of London — the people Foster surrounded herself with at the Daily were a cornerstone of her time at Tufts.

“I’m really happy with how things have evolved and the more female leadership that has blossomed within the Daily,” Foster said. “That’s been really cool to witness and contribute to. So many of my closest friendships have been formed from very late nights and debrief sessions after heavy meetings.”

No matter where her future takes her, Foster will always be “rooting so hard for the people who are still around here.”

“I think when you have a culture of people willing to commit the time and buy-in, you can create a really valuable experience.”

Emily Thompson

Executive News Editor, Spring 2022

By Matthew Sage

As a first-year student, Emily Thompson kept readily up to date on the Daily’s coverage and saw the publication as a lifeline during the waning restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic — but not yet as a contributor.

“I was in my bedroom alone most of the time,” she said of her hybrid-style first-year experience. “I was reading Daily articles to keep up with [COVID-19] numbers and what was happening on campus because I had no idea, since I never stepped outside. … For me, it was a way to connect to the campus.”

But while Thompson said she never planned to explore student journalism, she had always had an interest in writing and already closely followed the news. When she saw the Daily as one of the only student organizations still functioning during the pandemic, she saw her opportunity.

“It was something I could latch on to,” she said. She quickly joined the News section her first spring semester.

“I really found a joy in the interview and reporting process,” she said. “I was always hesitant toward writing, but being able to talk to people on campus — even on Zoom — was really a connecting power for me.”

That’s why she decided to stay with the Daily, she said, and become a beat reporter the next semester. Soon, she found herself a deputy news editor under the section’s executive editor, Chloe Courtney Bohl, and host of the Daily’s news podcast — something she recalled fondly, despite it admittedly falling outside her comfort zone.

But on one rainy afternoon, Thompson was sent on assignment to cover a tenant union protesting a landlord in nearby Davis Square. At the time, she had no idea she would eventually become the subject of her own story. The tenants’ landlord later sued Thompson and then-editor in chief Alexander Janoff for her coverage, claiming “emotional distress damages.”

While legal experts assured the pair that they were legally protected, Thompson said the ordeal “took a toll,” and forced her to reconsider her relationships with others at the newspaper. The case would later be dismissed with prejudice, but Thompson said she found the entire situation “uncomfortable” and “ethically challenging.”

“Immediately, it got coverage from all these news outlets, which was the overwhelming part of it,” Thompson said, “because all of a sudden, it wasn’t the [tenant] union who was in the spotlight, like they were in my article — it was me.”

Despite the challenge, Thompson became the News section’s executive editor for her next and final semester at the Daily. After the lawsuit and a stressful semester as an executive editor, Thompson chose to take a step back from her commitment to the newspaper. While she always intended to return as a staff writer, she never did, finding other commitments on campus that she said were, “in this period of my life, more meaningful to me.”

Even though she doesn’t plan to pursue journalism professionally, Thompson’s fondness for the Daily always lay in her reporting — something she isn’t quite ready to give up on, she said.

“You’re going to meet amazing people who have interesting stories to share, and it is truly an honor to be able to hold those stories and to translate them into print,” she said. “Even at its hardest moments, it is so rewarding to put out stories every day. … I really love talking to people, and a part of me wants to figure out how to incorporate that in my life later.”

Julia Shannon-Grillo

Editor in Chief, Spring 2023

Managing Editor, Fall 2022

Executive Copy Editor, Spring 2022

Executive Editorial Editor, Fall 2023

By Rebecca Barrie

Julia Shannon-Grillo came to Tufts as a varsity athlete and aspiring engineer. Little did she know, the Daily would come to define her college experience and shape her future.

“I was involved in my high school newspaper, and when I got to Tufts, I knew I wanted to stay in touch with the world of journalism,” Shannon-Grillo said. “But I was really nervous about spreading myself too thin. ... I decided to join the Copy section because I had been told that it was a more social section, a good way to meet people and I really did enjoy the editing side. So that was my initial entry into the Daily.”

At the end of her first-year fall, Shannon-Grillo realized that hybrid learning — Tufts’ then response to the COVID-19 pandemic — was not working for her, so she took the following spring semester off of school. When she returned, she decided to make some changes to her involvement in the Daily.

“I wanted the Daily to mean something to me,” Shannon-Grillo said. “It was something I had been doing for a year, but I felt like I hadn’t really made any friends through it. I wasn’t part of the journalism conversations that I was used to in high school.”

“I was trying to think of ways that I could make it mean more to me, so I applied to be the executive copy editor and ended up doing that my sophomore spring,” she said.

By the end of her sophomore year, she had made friends in the Daily, notably her co-executive copy editor, Abi Vixama, and finally felt integrated into the community. In fact, she credits the student newspaper as the reason she decided not to transfer schools.

“You’re spending so much time in the office [as a copy exec]. It’s really easy to meet people … I realized throughout that sophomore spring how much I had missed being in that environment and how much I love people who work in journalism,” Shannon-Grillo said.

During her junior fall, Shannon-Grillo became a managing editor, requiring her to be in the office anywhere from 30–50 hours a week. Despite this, she continued to sail for Tufts’ varsity team.

“I started out that year trying to do both, and about a month in, I felt like I wasn’t doing either job well,” Shannon-Grillo said. “I felt really bad on both sides, just guilty that I wasn’t living up to the expectations on either end.”

After being hospitalized following a sailing incident, Shannon-Grillo realized something had to go. She took a break from the sailing team, and in her junior spring, became the Daily’s editor in chief.

During her time as editor in chief, Shannon-Grillo tackled a series of bomb threats made against the university during finals week with the help of her friend and former editor in chief Chloe Courtney Bohl. She also published a controversial Letter from the Editor on “the right to protest” and the role of student journalism.

By the time her senior year arrived, Shannon-Grillo decided to rejoin the sailing team. She also became chair of the Editorial Board and helped usher in the next editor in chief and Managing Board.

Now, Shannon-Grillo is looking ahead to a future in journalism. She will pursue a master’s degree in investigative journalism at Columbia University in the fall.

“I’m just so grateful,” Shannon-Grillo said, “I will look back at my time at Tufts, and there will always be a warm, fuzzy feeling in my soul when I think about the Daily. … I’m so grateful that I found such a close community of people on campus, and I hope that everyone gets a chance to be a part of that.”

Ty Blitstein

Associate Editor, Fall 2022

Executive Video Editor, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

Alumni Liaison, Fall 2023, Spring 2024

By Josue Perez

Ty Blitstein, a current alumni liaison and former associate editor, found his start at the Daily in the fall of 2020 while fully remote and at home because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I spent my entire freshman year as a remote student, which was a really strange start to college,” Blitstein said. “But the Daily was one of the main ways I tried to get involved and stay connected.”

Blitstein spent his first year as a copy editor and eventually an audio reporter for the Daily’s weekly news podcast, “The Rewind.”

But going into his sophomore year, the outgoing video executive editor reached out to Blitstein to apply for the position.

“I was asked if … I would be interested in applying for executive video editor a few hours before the application was due because no one else was interested,” Blitstein said. “The outgoing executive knew that I had multimedia experience working with audio and I had made videos on my own in high school.”

Blitstein was then the executive video editor for the entire 2021–22 academic year, wherein he worked to revive the then-dormant section of the Daily. Blitstein said that he especially enjoyed kickstarting a beloved tradition of the Daily, which still continues to this day: The Newsroom Concert Series, which features student bands performing in the Daily’s newsroom.

“The Tiny Desk concerts have been one of my favorite projects that I’ve worked on. I always say content and community, all in one,” he said. “We’ve done several at this point and to start that up has been amazing, to be able to give people in the Video and Audio sections a chance to work with some really cool artists and put together these videos, but also to bring people into the office. It makes me so happy when the office is full.”

After serving as executive video editor, Blitstein assumed the role of associate editor for the fall 2022 semester, alongside then-editor in chief Chloe Courtney Bohl, on the 86th Managing Board.

“Truly no project or task was too big or too small for [Blitstein] to get involved in, whether that [was] publishing the Daily’s inaugural Diversity & Inclusion Report or poring over every last comma, ellipsis and punctuation mark in every single PDF at 3 a.m. on production nights,” Courtney Bohl said. “He has really made the Daily a better place in so many ways from his presence on the paper.”

Blitstein was also a member of the Diversity & Inclusion Report Committee during his time as an associate editor, and was involved in the publishing of the first Diversity & Inclusion Report in December 2022.

“The Diversity Report fell into my lap [while] in progress in fall 2022,” Blitstein said. “I really wanted to get it over the finish line and get this out into the world because [the committee] had done such a good job surveying everyone and collecting the data.”

Thanks to the inaugural survey, Blitstein said, the Daily was able to expand its fundraising and bolster its financial aid stipend program, ultimately allowing a more diverse range of the Tufts community to participate in student journalism than ever before.

“To be involved in that process, from publishing the Diversity Report to helping to organize and conceptualize the Expanding Access fundraiser, … I’m really proud to have been part of those teams,” Blitstein said.

Ending with four full years on the Daily’s masthead, Blitstein said that filling out his initial application for the Executive Board was one of the “best decisions” he made at Tufts.

“I found my community at the Tufts Daily,” Blitstein said, “and I hope that I’ve helped other people find theirs.”