Amir Denzel Hall writes the way he speaks. Regardless of his medium, his voice always carries warmth, humor and vulnerability. With a gift for storytelling, he has the ability to make any person feel comfortable.

When I was in high school, I resented gay pride and queer activism. To the younger version of myself, pride felt overbearing. I remember sitting in my counselor’s office and telling her I didn’t need to go to the Gay-Straight Alliance meeting. I imagined that going might mean I was defining my identity wholly by my sexuality. Apart from worrying about how I would be perceived by others, I was even more worried about what attending those meetings would mean for my own sense of self.

When I first spoke to Dan Cluchey ’08, I had just emerged from Organic Chemistry on the Friday of a tough week. I remember reading a short bio provided by Alumni and Parent Programs and thinking about how far off his life appeared. It was difficult to imagine life after graduation, and I couldn’t comprehend how Cluchey had managed to do so many incredible things in the eight years since he graduated. Among his many different paths, Cluchey earned a degree from Harvard Law, worked as a speechwriter for the Obama administration and published a novel this past summer.

I left my first year expecting that the time of uncertainty would be pretty much over. Of course things would change, but I don’t think I fully realized what this change would look like. Or at least, I expected things to grow linearly — I knew that I wouldn’t hold on to every single relationship from my first year, but I thought that I would have felt like I was growing, not regressing. On the other side of sophomore year, I do feel like I’ve developed. But there were parts of this semester that were hard in ways I didn’t expect them to be.