Political writer Lauren Duca:`They need to talk to young people'

GREAT BARRINGTON — Lauren Duca believes that the energy of young people is essential for the future.

"If someone wants to change things, they need to talk to young people," the Teen Vogue writer told The Eagle on Thursday.

The 26 year old journalist gave the commencement address at Bard College at Simon's Rock on Saturday morning. It was a particularly special commencement ceremony— 2017 marks the college's 50th anniversary and 48th commencement.

Duca, a columnist and editor for the magazine Teen Vogue, has gained wide recognition in recent months. A series of high profile interviews, including a contentious one with Fox News personality Tucker Carlson last December, has helped make Duca an important voice in journalism in the Trump era.

She has written the column Thigh-High Politics for Teen Vogue since February. The column's title came from a dismissive comment made by Carlson, who referred to an article about Ariana Grande's footwear in an attempt to discredit Duca's work.

"Stick to the thigh-high boots," Carlson told Duca. "You're better at that."

The writer took the insult and turned it into the title of her column. Her work at Teen Vogue aims to help teens deal with the changing world of politics under the new administration, Duca said.

"There's so little accessible political writing for young people," she told The Eagle. "That's a missed opportunity."

Duca's work has reached well beyond Teen Vogue's target audience, with commentators noting that her columns have had some of the most astute political writing since the election. College Provost and Vice President Ian Bickford said he was happy to host Duca, not least because her youth has not been a hindrance to her professional success.

"She is herself a younger person in her profession," Bickford said. "She is modeling bold moves and visionary thinking in ways that defy assumptions about age."

Assumptions about age have certainly reared their heads in Duca's career, she said.

"I've had some experiences of being written off for my youth," she told The Eagle.

Simon's Rock respects the ideas and work of young people, Bickford said, and celebrates the opportunity for younger people to make a difference. That makes Duca an ideal keynote speaker, the dean explained.

"In her work at Teen Vogue," said Bickford, "she has really practiced those values."

Simon's Rock accepts high school students from the 10th and 11th grades, the only accredited, four-year college in the country to do so. Due to this unique approach to admissions, the school awards all students who complete two years an associate degree.

Some students go on to other four year colleges from Simon's Rock, said Bickford. But about half finish their four-year degrees at the school.

"We're proud that roughly 50 percent of our students decide to stay," he said.

Duca said she was impressed with the courage it takes for young students to choose the college before they finish high school.That makes the commencement even more important, she said.

"It's a really specific choice," Duca told The Eagle. "It's an example of a risk turning into an achievement."

Reach staff writer Eoin Higgins at 413-496-6236 or @BE_EoinHiggins.


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