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:: By Amy Braverman Puma

:: Photography by Dan Dry

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In Every Issue ::

Editor's Notes:
Windows to the (undergraduate) world

Intern applications and essay submissions gave the Magazine’s editors a much-appreciated look into College students’ minds.

photo:  editor's notes
Abby Seiff has tried activities galore—and writes about them quite well.

This spring two dozen undergraduates applied for the Magazine’s two summer internship spots, and half a dozen fourth-years submitted commentaries for our Future Alumni Essay Contest. Because we gave both enterprises March 31 deadlines, the Magazine staff felt somewhat like instructors in a writing course, receiving a class’s worth of papers all at once. Overwhelming as it seemed to sort through cover letters, résumés, writing samples, and essays, the process gave us editors—often stuck in our fourth-floor cubicles—a refreshing look at current Chicago students.

We got to know the intern applicants, especially those we interviewed, relatively well. Via conference call from France, where she’s studying at the Paris Center this quarter, we met a bubbly third-year who, as a child, tossed all the checkout-line magazines into the shopping cart as quickly as her mother could remove them. Last summer she interned at CosmoGirl. One third-year claimed his parents were “religious” readers of the U of C Magazine, and if he’s home when it arrives his father will “bound upstairs shouting, ‘It’s here! It’s here!’” Though we had to raise an eyebrow at that tale, the student’s writing was solid and his enthusiasm sincere.

No wonder we had a hard time narrowing down our choices. Several of the applicants would make exceptional employees, not to mention the levity they’d bring to the office. We agonized over the final few candidates, eventually relying on our trusty editing test, which editor Mary Ruth Yoe has given job and intern applicants for 15 years, as the determining factor. And indeed, we’re thrilled with the two students who begin this July—the Maroon’s news editor, who also directs the “Joe Gets” TV series, and a Maroon arts-and-culture writer who runs women’s varsity cross-country and track.

The essays too provided a peek into student minds—graduating minds, that is, re--flecting on their four years at Chicago. We heard familiar themes about the workaholic U of C atmosphere: “There are two kinds of University of Chicago students,” began one. “First there are the die-hard masochists.” The second type, it turned out, were “optimistic, reluctant masochists.” We heard memories from O-Week to turning in that final undergraduate paper. We read about a Scav Hunt participant who persuaded her blasé peers to pull the Shoreland’s window shades in sync to evoke a 13-story game of Tetris—during a thunderstorm. The essay-contest winner, Abby Seiff, ’06, ventured deeper, using the activity-listserv e-mails she still gets as a metaphor for life’s options, all of which are still open to her (see “Serv it Up”).

Loads of new experiences
This spring also gave me some fresh personal perspectives. First, in March I got married—my byline now reads Amy Braverman Puma. Second, Mary Ruth Yoe and I swapped roles for this issue, so I acted as editor. It’s hard to avoid the cliché “new appreciation” for all she does. I found myself knocking on her door with questions at least double the usual rate. Thanks to her and the other editors for supporting me and this experiment.