Opinion | Happy coincidences

By Rachel Soloff, Opinions Editor

Every role I’ve had at The Pitt News has come out of coincidence.

Let me explain. As a barely 18-year-old first-year, I wandered around the Pete during the fall activities fair. Clutching my free tote bag, I walked laps around the Pete looking at each booth and carefully considered whether or not the club was for me. After doing this for an absurdly long time, my roommate — now one of my columnists — and I headed down the escalators and towards the door. On the way out, however, something caught my eye — a blue table with “The Pitt News” written across it. Literally steps from the door, I signed up for the opinions desk thinking, “Why the hell not?” 

A week later, an email arrived in my inbox from the opinions editor. It was friendly enough, asking if I’d like to interview for a spot as an opinions columnist. Following the same “Why the hell not” logic, I went to the interview. After getting lost in typical first-year fashion, I found the office with its cubicles and silly wall art that would become my home for the next four years. 

I interviewed with Leah, my first editor. They were friendly, and I finally relaxed for the first time at Pitt — probably because mid-interview Leah asked me if I was Jewish. Thinking about it now, their questioning probably led me to the most prominent theme in my columns.

Leah and Maggie, my first editors, were kind and patient with me. As I nervously drafted my first column, Maggie sat me down in the office and taught me how to write a proper opinion piece. In between showing me how to write a nut graf and sipping a comically large cup of tea, Maggie chatted with the other editors. There were inside jokes, tired eyes poring over computer screens and wheely chairs moving from cubicle to cubicle, working together to make this student-run newspaper a real-life, tangible thing. 

I began to write more frequently using my trusty writing guide from Maggie. I would come in every week to the pitch meetings full of smart and funny people whom I hoped would become my friends. Even during the pandemic, the other opinion columnists would make me laugh out loud during our weekly pitch Zoom meetings, and it became the thing I looked forward to every week while I was stuck in my room. When applications to become an editor came out at the end of 2020, I quickly applied.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get the position, which bummed me out. I developed a very one-sided beef with the then-sophomore who got it, Jack. We now joke about it, as he is one of my closest friends at Pitt, but at the time, I was devastated. I even thought about quitting just to spite my replacement. 

That is, until he reached out to me to pitch and all that anger dissipated. I remembered why I fell in love with The Pitt News and began writing like a maniac, adding a new pitch to the pitch list every week. This is when my happy coincidences doubled. Jack reached out to me to tell me that there was an opening for the assistant opinions editor position. I jumped at the opportunity, and I’m so glad I did. 

As I slowly warmed up to the editorial board, I began to feel the family feeling I observed that day when Maggie taught me how to write a column. It was so great to come into the office every few days and complain about school, joke around and of course, read everyone’s birth charts. It was so great to finally find a place where I fit in perfectly, like a puzzle piece. I could write creatively, read and edit great columns and hang out with people who would become lifelong friends.

Once my one-sided beef with Jack had dissolved, he too became my very close friend. We would joke about columns that were difficult to edit and spend a lot of time in the office together eating candy and drawing different accessories on the praying mantis illustration on the whiteboard. Those first few months as editor were not without their challenges, but I was glad to have Jack as my co-pilot.

Then another coincidence in my series of coincidences occurred. I was promoted to head opinions editor a mere four months after I started and had finally started to get my bearings. I didn’t know who I wanted to become my right-hand man as assistant opinions editor. Jack suggested Grace, a newer columnist who I had only heard the voice of in our weekly pitch meetings, as she always had her camera off on Zoom. 

The day she started working became one of the most pivotal parts of my life. We instantly clicked and I was so happy I could work with someone who could also become my potential friend. 

But the moment I really knew Grace was my soulmate and my forever friend was her second week working as an editor. My grandmother passed away during an already difficult start to the second semester, and I dropped everything to return home to my family. Grace, who had just started working, picked up all of the slack for me, no questions asked, and did so flawlessly. 

Over the past year and a half, Grace has become one of my best friends in the whole world. We spend almost every waking second together, and she really is my forever friend. And I wouldn’t want it any other way. Every time I would complain about having to write SNED or having to balance my homework with editing, I could always look to my left and see Grace in the same boat. 

Now, I don’t really believe in fate, but I believe someone was looking out for me that day in the Pete. Some force pushed me toward that Pitt News sign-up sheet, and I’m so glad it did. My life is forever changed by people like Leah, Maggie, Jack, Grace, my columnists and all the other editors I’ve had the opportunity to work and grow with. While I had a somewhat unpredictable journey with The Pitt News, I wouldn’t ask for it any other way. Between staff socials, chilling in the office and meeting amazing columnists I had the privilege to work with, I think these past four years were my best yet.

While I’m not sure what the rest of my journey holds, I can’t wait to see what happy coincidences I’m led to next.


Rachel Soloff writes primarily about the entertainment industry and how lame antisemites are. Write to her at [email protected].