Lila Joffe Common App Essay


Lila Joffe, Editor in Chief, '21

Unintentionally, my morning workout became my political awakening. After watching the entirety of Netflix’s teen dramas to distract myself on the elliptical, I turned to the purple podcast app for something more substantial. I discovered a world of knowledge in my personal favorite pod: The Daily. I have always been opinionated. Ask my midwestern classmates and they will call me a radical feminist, a bleeding-heart liberal. Although my opinions have always been strong, they did not always have a basis in facts. During my school’s Political Roundtable meetings, I floundered while trying to drive home a point about the wage gap to an all-male audience.  As I sat with my half-eaten lunch in my history classroom, surrounded by foamy-mouthed boys who pounced on any factual mistake I made in my monologues (there were many), I didn’t know whether to scream or to cry. In that room, I was the minority, something that I had never before experienced as a white woman. In that charged environment not only did I speak for myself, but for all my female classmates who chose not to attend.  After all, I am not infallible. I am emotional (the word that the patriarchy has weaponized against women for decades), and I do not know everything. Michael Barbaro’s The Daily has helped me educate myself. With the help of those 30-minute episodes during my workout I learn more about issues that interest me, like women’s rights and systemic racial inequality. With my daily podcast ritual, I become more confident in my opinions, and arm myself with the information I need for whatever heated debate lies in my future. In Southwest Ohio, not only do I defend myself in that classroom, but also in conversations with my conservative friends who blame “the media” for Trump’s shocking incompetence and with family who preach “All Lives Matter”.

My education on the elliptical inspired me to re-launch my school’s newspaper. Listening to The Daily each morning was shocking. As I heard detailed descriptions of the Military Me-Too movement and Breonna Taylor’s murder, I longed for a more local discussion. After all, The Daily is a podcast, and listening to someone speak into a microphone in New York is different than having an informed news source in Cincinnati. I wanted conversation and education, and I knew the defunct Scroll was the perfect place to start.  Writing on The Scroll was the highlight of my freshman and sophomore years, so when it fell into disrepair my junior year, I was devastated. Although I had tried almost everything, from meetings that felt like interventions to supplicating at the feet of my faculty advisor, endurance in my workout reminded me to keep fighting.  Frustrated by the political environment and isolated by the pandemic, I was determined to revive The Scroll for its first ever summer issue, highlighting Black voices and experiences at my school.  The issue featured a conversation with the school’s diversity council, an interview with a middle-school baker-turned-bail fundraiser, and an article written by the only black actress in the winter musical.

I used to dread my workout, but now I embrace the challenge of pulling myself out of bed at 6:30 each morning. My fitness regime has taught me countless lessons, but the most important is persistence. Just as I refuse to relent when I am sweaty and exhausted, I push my political education despite discomfort with my peers. I continue to attend Political Roundtable meetings, and I work to amplify my voice through The Scroll. Before I became invested in podcasts and politics, I had no idea how much I did not know. Even now, after eight months of my Daily workout, I am overwhelmed by how much more I need to learn. Article by article, episode by episode, and mile by mile, I continue my journey.