Opinions desk says ‘so long’ to graduating seniors


Images courtesy of the graduating senior columnists

There are seven senior columnists graduating this year.

By Leah Mensch and Paige Lawler

The opinions desk is bidding farewell to seven columnists this spring — all of whom have been around for quite some time, and have helped make the opinions desk what it is. Working with each and everyone of them — their humor, dedication and kindness — has been such a delight.

Ana Altchek, Staff Columnist // Leah Mensch, Opinions Editor

Ana’s been on the opinions desk as long as anyone possibly can be — since the beginning of her first year at Pitt. Her columns largely center around cultural issues and lifestyle — she’s written about COVID-19 patient stigma, self care during finals week and seasonal depression, to name a few. Over the past year, she’s started writing a “College Compass” blog  — college advice to help readers get through the semester — for the digital desk as well.

Ana majored in political science and English literature — once I had the pleasure of suffering through a literature class with her — and she’s exploring the idea of applying to law school, or pursuing a career in journalism. In the meantime, lucky for all of us, she’ll be continuing her blog work beyond The Pitt News, writing for her personal lifestyle blog.

Alex Dolinger, Senior Staff Columnist // Leah Mensch, Opinions Editor

Photo courtesy of Alex Dolinger









On April Fool’s Day this year, Alex Dolinger posted on their Twitter account that they got into Harvard for graduate school. People from their high school came out of the woodwork to congratulate them, and instead of telling their former classmates they were making a joke, they told multiple people they were accepted to Harvard Law. In a reality just as good — dare I say even better? — Alex is moving to Buffalo, NY, and working for City Year, where they’ll teach theater to a group of very lucky middle school students.

In their Pitt News tenure, they’ve written countless hilarious columns with tips on prank calling the voter fraud hotline and possibly the most unhinged take I’ve ever published — “Every TV show should have a musical episode.” In the same breath, they’ve written beautifully about being queer and moving through the world as someone who struggles with mental illness. I probably don’t need to say that Alex will do great things with their artistic talents and sense of humor and love for other human beings — but I will anyway.

Maggie Durwald, Senior Staff Columnist // Leah Mensch, Opinions Editor 

Photo courtesy of Leah Mensch







Facts about Maggie Durwald: She hates getting her picture taken and she loves spicy cheese — specifically a monterey hot pepper jack. She probably doesn’t want me to link to any past columns she wrote — especially the one from her first year about “Star Wars,” so I won’t, because Maggie is technically the reason I write for The Pitt News. She hired me three years ago, and then subsequently trained me to be an editor. We ran the opinions desk together — and cultivated a good kind of chaos in the newsroom — before she went back to being a columnist last February. She taught me everything I know about this job, and while at it, studied French and linguistics and researched French Canadian swearing.

Maggie is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met, so it’s no surprise that post graduation, she’s moving back to her hometown of Buffalo — in her words, “the greatest city in New York” — and will attend the University at Buffalo for its Speech Language Pathology program.

Remy Samuels, Senior Staff Columnist // Paige Lawler, Assistant Opinions Editor

Photo courtesy of Remy Samuels










Remy has been writing for The Pitt News since her first year at Pitt, though she started out on the news desk. Fortunately for the opinions desk, she switched over and started writing for us in her junior year. Remy has written about nearly every topic you could think of — she reported on a Bernie Sanders campaign event back in her news days, and since joining opinions, she’s written columns about youth activists, the ways people judge women’s bodies and the struggle of maintaining religious obligations as a college student. No matter what Remy writes, it is always thoughtful and well done.

Remy isn’t entirely sure what she’s doing after graduation, but she plans to pursue a writing career in some form, whether it be journalism or content creation for a media company. I and everyone else on the desk know that she will be wildly successful wherever she goes and whatever she does.

Alison Sivitz, Staff Columnist // Leah Mensch, Opinions Editor 

Photo courtesy of Alison Sivitz









A couple months ago, someone asked me about Alison, and I said there wasn’t anyone on the opinions desk named “Alison” because we all know her as Sivi and Sivi only. In her time at The Pitt News, she wrote a few political masterpieces, and most iconically, “The Plague Diaries.” She also forgave Taylor Swift for writing “Girl at Home,” and made multiple alignment charts for the opinions desk. Thanks to Sivi, we all know each other’s moon sign, and which character we most often play in Mario Kart.

Sivi has a number of career goals, including becoming the “first female dentist,” though she’s about 170 years late on that one. Because she’s had to let go of that dream, she’s interning with Sirius & Pandora this summer and then (her words) “continuing to have a life crisis.”

Ethan Tessler, Senior Staff Columnist // Paige Lawler, Assistant Opinions Editor

Photo courtesy of Ethan Tessler









Ethan will go down in the books as one of the only columnists who has successfully sworn in a column without being censored. Ethan was one of the first writers I worked with while I trained to become an editor, and since the beginning I’ve appreciated his work ethic and his willingness to take suggestions and work with his editors. In his time at The Pitt News, Ethan has written about a variety of topics — including the TV show “BoJack Horseman,” voter apathy, the importance of unions and why we need a higher minimum wage. Regardless of what he’s writing about, Ethan always delivers thorough, well-researched columns, usually about “issues that don’t seem to get enough attention,” per his tagline. His hot takes, and Ethan himself, will be missed.

After Ethan graduates, he will be working with Teach for America, teaching elementary school in Memphis, Tennessee. He hopes to go to law school in the future, and work towards eventually being a judge, public servant or maybe even both.

Anne Marie Yurik, Senior Staff Columnist // Paige Lawler, Assistant Opinions Editor

Photo courtesy of Anne Marie Yurik










Anne Marie is one of the longest-reigning members of the opinions desk, having joined at the start of her first year. Over her four years with The Pitt News, she’s proved that can do it all — her columns are relatable, hilarious and inspirational all at the same time. Anne Marie has been keeping it real since her first column, arguing that reality TV needs to take harassment more seriously, and ending her Pitt News career with an ode to her future self. In between, she wrote some wonderful satire about the South Oakland dog Texas Ted, doing yoga and things in her apartment that “just make sense.”

I “met” Anne Marie over Slack when I edited her column about accessible period products last spring. In the year or so since, we still haven’t met in person, but I’ve seen her smiling face at just about every desk meeting. Anne Marie will be attending the School of Law at Loyola University, Chicago in the fall, and she is totally going to rock it, Elle Woods style.