Princeton is where I discovered through courses like The Literature of Fact with John McPhee that I wanted to be a writer. But it was just that, a wanting, and I had never been published.

That changed with The Nassau Weekly.

I was a member of The Tigressions, a women’s a cappella singing group. We struggled to find adequate and dedicated rehearsal space. I also knew of other musicians and arts groups on campus who had problems like not being able to practice their cello in a soundproof room or encountering other obstacles to pursuing their art.

With some friends who were writers and editors at the Nass, I was encouraged to pitch a story idea about whether the university should be doing more to support arts groups on campus. This was back when The Nass was still in print, with its 8 1/2 x 11 size folded in half and stacked up in racks around campus. It was a fun, counter-cultural alternative to the more traditional campus publications. The possibility of seeing my name in the Nass was exciting.

The story ran inside, a full page. It was the longest piece I had ever written and my first byline, ever.

The artists and cultural groups featured in the story were grateful that I highlighted the issue. And I spent weeks just starting at my byline, in happy disbelief that I interviewed people, wrote a story and it was published!

In the years since, I’ve watched Princeton embrace and celebrate the arts. I like to think that my story in the Nass helped jumpstart that effort.


Theola DeBose ‘96 is a former staff writer at the Washington Post and the founder of Life After Journalism.