Advice from the locals on transitioning to the “Big Apple”

By Lanie Phillips

Every year, approximately 250,000 people move to New York City. A different road leads each person to the “Big Apple”, but those who stumble across a life in Manhattan say that there is something special about the city that always leaves you wanting more. As I approach college graduation with a move to New York City on the horizon, I began to ask myself dozens of questions that I couldn’t easily find the answer to, and all of them came with a different answer depending on the source. This article will explore six perspectives on transitioning to and maintaining a life in New York City. I asked six people in various walks of life what led them and what kept them in the city that never sleeps, whether it’s the bright lights, trendy nightclubs, delicious restaurants or limitless opportunities for adventure.

The Commuter 

Katrine Reddin is 22 years old and graduated in December from Texas Christian University with a degree in marketing. Shortly after, she returned to her home in Stamford, Connecticut where she would live and complete the hour and a half commute each way for six months before moving into an apartment in Manhattan. Katrine’s dad has worked in New York City for years, so for her, finding a career in the city was almost a rite of passage. She discussed how she has grown up wanting to switch her walking shoes for heels before entering the building she works in, something that all women working in New York City seem to be very familiar with. She vividly remembers stepping off the train into Grand Central Station and being forced to run to keep up with the crowd. “That was the moment I knew I was not in Texas anymore,” she laughs. “[It was] also the moment I understood why you wear flats until you get to the door of your office.”

Katrine discussed in-depth how the transition period of living with her parents has made moving to and working in New York City so much more attainable. “I have a huge financial buffer, now, that has allowed me to search for an apartment with substantially less stress,” she said. “It also helps knowing that I’ll be able to explore and adventure in the city without having to worry about paying the electricity bill.” She agrees that while living with her parents for these six months has been beneficial, there is just something exciting about renting your own apartment in New York City. “I think the hardest part has been the commute. I wake up at 4:30 and catch a train and then do it all over again,” she said. “Knowing there is an end in sight definitely helps because my sleep schedule couldn’t handle this situation long-term.”

The Apartment Hunter

For Emma Griffin, the biggest adjustment to living in New York City was the process of getting an apartment. Emma, a 24-year-old graduate of the University of Georgia, is a graphic designer for a small company. On the side, she does freelance work to make extra money. She laughs as she remembers trying to look for an apartment six months before she was planning on moving in. “I had just gotten my job offer and was so excited to figure out where I would be living,” she said. “The brokers I contacted politely told me to come back one month before I needed to move in and to make sure I had the necessary funds.” The process to qualify for an apartment does make it easier to ensure you will be able to pay your rent. The usual requirement is your salary equaling 40 times the amount of your monthly rent. She recalls downloading several apps that would help her search for an apartment and getting hundreds of notifications of places that would satisfy her criteria.

In a city that supposedly has a shortage of housing, there didn’t seem to be a lack of apartments coming on and off the market that were possible places to rent. “I think for everyone, the first shock of living in New York is how expensive your rent is going to be,” said Emma. “It’s awful spending a third of what I’m making on the place I sleep.” But Emma wouldn’t trade it for the world. Even though she has only been there for a year, she has zero plans on moving anytime soon. “There’s something priceless about living in a place where you meet someone from a completely different walk of life every single day.”

The Father

Zach Richards has lived in Upper West Side for the last three years. He moved there after graduating from Duke University. However, in the past three years, Zach has not only gotten married, but he and his wife recently had a baby. “There is nothing that can prepare you for living in New York with a newborn child,” he confessed. “Everything becomes more complicated.” Whether it’s a screaming baby who is sweaty from the hot subway in July, a stroller that gets caught on a sidewalk bump and almost tips over or finding a place for the baby to sleep in astronomically priced apartments, Zach walked me through some tips of the trade. “Honestly, we converted our pantry into a bedroom for the baby,” he says as he ironically trips over a stack of groceries sitting in the hall with no place to go. “It has no window and absolutely does not adhere to building codes, but it is so worth not sharing a bedroom with a newborn.”

He talks about how no one ever mentioned this transition to him. Everyone stuck to giving advice on first moving there and then adjusting to living with a spouse. “I think most people don’t want to scare you out of having a baby,” Zach said. “If I had known what I do now, I probably would’ve waited just a little bit longer.” Zach has no plans on moving to the suburbs just yet, a practice common with people who have families but still work in New York City. He said that too much of his identity has become wrapped up in living in Manhattan. “My wife and this baby have taken my sleep and my money and even my pantry,” he jokes. “They’re not taking my zip code.”

The Budgeter

Kim Emmert has lived in the city for five years and recently moved across the bridge from Manhattan to Brooklyn. She moved to New York City after completing her undergraduate degree at Boston College, which gave her a leg up in handling the cold weather. She gave great advice on budgeting for living in a city as expensive as New York City and practical tips that she has picked up along the way. Her self-proclaimed best advice for anyone moving to the “Big Apple”? Make a spreadsheet with every expense you can think of and stick to it. Leave room for unexpected expenses that you can’t prepare for. “I can’t express how important it is to stick to the budget you have,” she stressed. “There is no worse feeling that seeing your credit card bill pile up and know that you won’t be able to pay it at the end of the month.” Kim has personal experience with this. Her first two years in New York City were a financial whirlwind of overspending and she is still paying off the silly expenses she justified in order to keep up with her roommates who were making significantly more money than her.

“I also would tell you to live with people in similar financial situations,” she said. “It’s a lot easier to stay in and cook breakfast together than sit at home while everyone else goes out for bottomless mimosas and brunch.” Her last piece of advice for transitioning to life in Manhattan was simple. “Prepare to not drive a car,” she said. For her, it felt like a loss of freedom and she felt trapped. Kim said it took her close to a year to adjust to relying on public transportation. She did acknowledge that the presence of Uber does make getting around significantly easier. “But don’t forget to factor that into your budget” she said.

The Southerner

Julie Fendler is 36 years old and is contemplating leaving New York City after being there since attending undergraduate school at Columbia University. “New York is absolutely a way of life,” she explained when I asked her why she had been there for so long. “It gets in your blood and convinces you that nothing will be as exciting as the life you have here.” She said her best advice for anyone moving to the city is to just jump in 100 percent. If you don’t commit to enjoying the life you have in New York City, you’ll constantly be thinking if it would be better to just live somewhere cheaper. Julie, who grew up in a small suburban town outside of Atlanta, thinks that living in New York City has opened her eyes to different ways of life and broadened her horizons more than she could’ve dreamed. “Maybe that’s why I’m so biased about this city,” she admitted. “I think that a life in New York is out of a lot of people’s comfort zones, but I can’t begin to convey how important it is to expose yourself to different types of people.”

For those moving from the south, Julie warned of the complete absence of southern hospitality and the cold weather. She laughed at a story she remembered of bumping into someone getting out of an elevator and then apologizing and asking them how their day was going. “That man looked at me like I had killed his first-born child,” Julie said. “I realized that New Yorkers don’t care why you’re in their way, they just want to be at their destination 15 minutes ago.” Her final words were to warn me as well as other people who consider a 55-degree day to be cold that I had no idea what was ahead. “There’s nothing that can prepare a southern girl from stepping out into her first snowstorm,” she said. “The way the cold hits you in the face the second you step outside is something I would not miss at all.”

The Explorer

For the final perspective on transitioning to life in New York City, I talked with Miles Garrison, a man who has lived in countless apartments across Manhattan for the last 20 years. Out of everyone I interviewed for this story, he spoke of New York City with the most fondness. “New York is absolutely more than a place for people in their 20s to figure out how to be an adult,” he said. Miles admitted that there is a huge adjustment period though. In a somewhat crass manner, he detailed an early career in finance that allowed him to have financial flexibility, which might not have been a good thing. “I had more money but not nearly enough time to explore this place,” he admitted. “Maybe that’s why I’m still here. I’m finally getting to experience what everyone talks about.”

His advice to me was simple: Don’t look at New York City as a stop on the way to a final destination. Give it a chance to be everything it can be. If you do, maybe it could end up being your home, just like it is for Miles. His parting words: “I’ve raised three kids and had two marriages in this city and wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

Several people have told me that New York City is a place that you can still feel lonely in, even though 8 million people surround you. It is my hope that the accounts given in this story by six very different people living very different lives in the city will make life in Manhattan a little more attainable for those who encounter it. It’s expensive, it’s loud, it’s bright, but as you read in this story, there’s something just a little more special about the years you spend in the “Big Apple”.

Edited by Avery Williams

How San Juan proved every day can be an adventure


The city of San Juan, Puerto Rico is filled with beautiful beaches and vibrant culture. From the food to the history, there is never a dull moment. (Photo by Lanie Phillips)


By Lanie Phillips


Stepping out of the airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico, you would have no idea that the territory is technically a part of the United States. A wave of humidity hit my face as I walked through the door and sounds of horns honking, taxi drivers yelling in Spanish and conversations of confused tourists immediately filled the air.

My group of 15 friends was herded down to a cab station past the crowds and piled into a 12-passenger van. The driver, Victor, asked several of us to “duck down” because the airport supervisor did not allow the drivers to cram so many people into a cab. We immediately complied, as he was saving the group a lot of money. The broken English that characterized the conversation that followed was foreshadowing the rest of the trip. As he took us to the house we had rented, he spoke about local tourist attractions. He said, “Be careful of the beach vendors, they will rip you off,” and told us “not to leave until we tried ‘tostones’ or garlic plantains.” We drove along the shore of the ocean and could see the sandy beach and palm trees along the way. As we pulled up to our house, Victor gave us his card and encouraged us to call him if we ever needed a ride.

The house we had rented was painted white with blue trim. It had gates that surrounded it, lined with barbed wire. Across the street stood a glass mansion accompanied with three around-the-clock guards that we would become friendly with as the week went on. Their presence also made our parents breathe a sigh of relief, especially after hearing of the barbed wire fence. We later found out from them that the family that lived in the house owned the grocery brand “Goya.”

We had decided to spend our first night in Puerto Rico at “La Placita” at the recommendation of a friend from home who is originally from the area. Immediately after climbing out of the Uber, which conveniently still worked throughout Puerto Rico, you were swept up into the vibrant amount of culture. Music traveled through the streets and the scent of Puerto Rican food filled the air, specifically the fried plantains that Victor had recommended. There were artists stationed on every corner with their work displayed that you could purchase for no more than five dollars. I bought several post cards with pictures of local landmarks to send home to my family. We ended the night venturing into a bar where La Placita proved it was even better than we had been told.

Venturing into the forest

The next morning, everyone woke up and booked Ubers to El Yunque, a national park in Puerto Rico famous for its waterfalls and rainforest. However, the research that had been done prior to the trip had fallen short and we were soon faced with the potential to end up either stranded or paying several hundred dollars. The language barrier created even more complications and the lack of Spanish spoken by the group, paired with the speed with which the driver spoke at, was not a good match. Jose, our driver, was finally able to inform us, via a translation app, that Ubers were not allowed into the National Park, risking a fine of $1,000 fine and jail time. However, one of Jose’s fellow Uber drivers, Alicia, spoke to Jose by screaming across the highway while driving and convinced him to take us into the rainforest in exchange for $120. We were more than happy to oblige, given that we would otherwise be stuck halfway between El Yunque and our temporary home. The group motto for the day became the song “Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls,” which would be started again and again by the entire group throughout the adventure.

After what seemed like ages, we were dropped off at the entrance to our hike. Immediately after entering, the humid air was filled with laughter, birds chirping and water running. We decided to pass the large waterfall that hundreds of tourists were gathered around and ventured deeper into the rainforest to find a smaller waterfall with our own private pool below. The atmosphere of the group completely shifted as we sat around the base of the waterfall, telling stories and building rock structures. We spotted exotic animals, collected rocks as mementos and took professional-quality pictures. A tumultuous morning had finally turned out greater than our expectations.

Taste of city living 

The next afternoon, after an active and adventurous day behind us, we decided to venture into the city and visit Old San Juan. This time, our Uber driver spoke almost perfect English and had completed college at Boston University before returning home to Puerto Rico to raise her daughter alongside her family. We jokingly commented on how nice it would’ve been to be able to communicate with Jose as we could with Marisa during our excursion to El Yunque. I asked her about a famous bar, ranked in the famous list, “Top 50 Bars in the World,” called La Factoría and she giggled and told me to “put my lipstick on and smile pretty because the minimum age is 23 to get into the bar.”

Later on in the car ride, she drove us past the capitol building and through Old San Juan before dropping us off in the middle of the town to wander. The colorful buildings reminded the group of Rainbow Row in Charleston, South Carolina. Surprisingly, the town was not too crowded and there was barely any car traffic, leaving it very easy to meander through the streets. Before leaving, we toured Castillo San Cristóbal, a famous fort. We saw the soldiers quarters and talked about the history of Puerto Rico. “It was amazing to see how well preserved the fort was after more than two centuries,” said Sarah Jane, who traveled in our group. “I got to learn about the way of life within the fort — they had celebrations in the courtyard, no animals were allowed and they slept in corridors of about 20 people.”

On the last day of the trip, we decided to stay in town near the house and absorb as much of the local culture as we could. We lounged on the beach, chatted with vendors who walked by with their dogs and dined at restaurants that did not require a car to get to. Pinky’s was the first stop for breakfast. Egg and bacon burritos, peanut butter and jelly smoothies and café con leche were on the menu for the group. The portion sizes were huge and prices extremely reasonable. Jenny, another member of the group, was the one who found the restaurant. “After existing on macaroni and cheese and hot dogs for the majority of the trip, I yelped ‘best breakfast near me’ and Pinky’s was the best ranked breakfast in the area,” said Jenny. “It also was less than a quarter of a mile which made it even better.” We got our fill of delicious rice, beans, lobster empanadas and fish tacos for dinner on the last day in San Juan.

Saying goodbye to San Juan

Early the next morning, the time had finally come to head back to America. Victor, our first driver, picked us up and drove us to the airport. At 5:15, the group was much less chatty, but Victor was excited to hear about the duration of the trip and all of the activities we had packed in. With tanner skin, a lot of sunburn and several priceless experiences under our belts, we happily recounted our week to him. One positive characteristic we noticed about the people of Puerto Rico, compared to other beach towns we had visited for spring break, was how friendly all of the locals were. They were constantly willing to stop and chat, offer recommendations or give directions. Although the language barrier was an obstacle, everyone agreed that the trip was absolutely worth it.

Edited by Avery Williams

A look into ‘America’s Lawyer’, Mike Papantonio

Lanie Phillips

On Saturday, Feb. 13, 2017, lead Litigation Attorney Mike Papantonio received the call that E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, commonly referred to as DuPont, and The Chemours Company reached a settlement of $670.7 million that will be paid out to approximately 3,500 clients.

For decades, DuPont was intentionally dumping C8, a cancer-causing chemical used in Teflon non-stick pans, into the Ohio River, which exposed entire communities to the toxic chemical, causing long-term health effects on residents. Over the past few years, attorneys have reached individual case verdicts, but this settlement will payout thousands of clients and ultimately bring the case to a close.

“The jury determined that, not only was DuPont at fault, but that they were guilty of actual malice in the way they covered up the evidence of their conduct,” said Papantonio.

For Papantonio, this news was the culmination of tens of thousands of hours of work researching, preparing and litigating this case. Papantonio led the team that originally exposed the dangers of the C8 chemical, exposed the internal secret documents DuPont was hiding and revealed the problem to the EPA. Since then, his team has forced DuPont to set up safety guidelines, including a medical monitoring program, to ultimately stop producing and using C8. In addition to the settlement, Papantonio and his team tried the only three C8 trials against DuPont and won multi-million dollar verdicts.

Meeting Mike 

To say I was intimidated by meeting Mike Papantonio is an understatement. It was in Laguardia Airport and I was joining his firm for a gala they were a part of. His presence filled the room the minute he walked through the door and when he spoke, the crowd quickly fell silent.  What followed surprised everyone.

“I’ve heard you’re good with a tambourine, Lanie!” he said. The crowd broke out in a chuckle and the ice was broken. Since then, Mike Papantonio has grown into the mentor I never dreamed I would be lucky enough to have.


After attending undergraduate school at the University of Florida and receiving his law degree from the Cumberland School of Law, Mike Papantonio, referred to by friends and colleagues as “Pap,” has gone on to create a name for himself as “America’s Lawyer.” In addition to his most recent victory, Papantonio has handled thousands of cases, including the Asbestos and the Florida Tobacco Litigation trials. He has received several multi-million dollar verdicts on behalf of his clients, the victims. Papantonio is a member of the National Trial Lawyers Association and was recently inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame.

If you search for “Mike Papantonio,” you get thousands of results. He is regarded as one of the most talented attorneys of his time and has the reputation to back it up. He is listed in the publications Best Lawyers in America and Leading American Attorney, hosts a biannual conference for trial lawyers and is currently on multiple best-seller lists for his latest book, Law and Disorder. He could – and did – write a book with all of his accomplishments, but the goal of this article is to give a glimpse of the man behind the suit.

Community influencer 

In Gulf Breeze, a small town right outside of Pensacola, Florida, Mike Papantonio is a local celebrity. However, this recognition is not simply for his incredible skills and victories in the courthouse; it’s his contagious personality and unending generosity to the community that allow him to maintain this status. Michael Mann, a resident of Gulf Breeze and a family friend, vouched for this sentiment.

“Pap has donated to pretty much every cause this town takes on,” he said. “He also was the driving force behind me going to law school. Gulf Breeze is lucky to have his influence.” Mann went on to explain how even with his busy schedule, Papantonio is always available for a quick phone call to talk through career options or run through a practice trial for the Trial Team at the law school he is attending.

Work life

After graduating from the University of Florida, Papantonio planned on being a journalist or foreign correspondent. By chance, he interviewed one of the most well known trial lawyers in the country who convinced him to go to law school. After a few years as a prosecutor, Papantonio made the switch to trial law.

“I specifically chose trial law because I couldn’t stomach the idea of helping these corporations get away with the crimes they are committing,” said Papantonio. This mentality has driven his career since the beginning.

Connie Pearson, a lead paralegal at Levin Papantonio Law Firm has worked with Papantonio on several historic cases throughout his career and has only positive things to say about her experiences.

“Pap is one of the most hardworking people I know,” she said. “He never loses sight of the justice he is trying to achieve for our clients and makes it easy for me to come to work each day.”

This sentiment carries throughout the office. As an employee, I wholeheartedly agree that Papantonio makes it easy to enjoy your job. There is an obvious sentiment of teamwork that drives the tone of the office. Whether it was group lunches to celebrate an email found by the attorney leading the case or wrapping up the client calls necessary to head to court, the sense of family in the firm is undeniable.

“We stick together,” said Pearson. “We’re at constant war with teams of corporate lawyers, so we have to stand firm in what we believe in and not allow our clients to be bullied.”

When asked what he was most proud of, Papantonio didn’t rattle off a list of cases or show me a trophy he had received. Instead, he chose his only daughter, Sara. “I think one benefit to being a trial lawyer is that it always keeps things in perspective,” he said. “The people in my life are so much more important than anything this job has given me.” The two have a close relationship and talk often. Sara understands the impact of the work her dad has done and hopes to follow in his footsteps.

“My dad has instilled in me the importance of doing the right thing for the right reasons, instead of what will make the most money,” said his daughter. “He’s shown me that if you’re a good person, the rest will follow.”

Family man

This past summer, I lived with the Papantonio’s while working for his firm and got to experience firsthand what it’s like to be in his constant presence. Throughout the internship, I was not only an employee, but Mike and his wife, Terri, along with their daughter, Sara, took me in as another family member. I was included in dinner outings, day trips and information that would not hit the press for days.

“Different people fill different spaces in your life,” said Terri, “I’m glad that we can fill one for you”. This sentiment perfectly embodies what the family stands for.

I consider myself incredibly lucky to have studied under an attorney who practices at the caliber that Mike Papantonio does. After living under the same roof, I think I have begun to understand what makes him tick and why he has taken the road to get where he is today.

It seems as if Papantonio excels at every aspect of life. In addition to being an incredibly accomplished attorney, his home life is nothing short of amazing. Terri Papantonio often spoke to me about what it’s like to be the wife of such a high-powered attorney.

“He’s not ‘America’s Lawyer’ with me,” she said. “We decided at the very beginning of our marriage that he would leave that in the courtroom.”

Over the past 20 years, the couple has traveled to all seven continents, regularly taking outlandish adventures.

Looking ahead

I think Mike Papantonio will remain “America’s Lawyer” as long as he can. He has no plans to retire and although he works from home far more now, he is quick to lend guidance to any team fighting against corporate criminals.

“Dad’s going to hold on until I can get through law school,” said Sara. “We both want to make sure that I am prepared to continue his legacy and maybe even try a case together before he officially retires.”

Edited by Avery Williams

Signs at the Women’s March on D.C. show more than a simple message

Signs ranging from political to comical displayed unity and commitment to women’s rights in D.C.

The initial reaction

As I emerged from the Metro tunnel onto the street, I was stunned by the sight of thousands of people flooding towards downtown Washington D.C. to march in favor of women’s rights. The air was filled with excitement and conversations buzzed around me. Glancing at my surroundings, I found people in different outfits including t-shirts with feminist slogans, pink knitted hats and most importantly, tennis shoes to prepare for the miles they would walk that day. Their clothing choices might have varied, but these people all had one thing in common: they were carrying signs. Men, women and children held mass-produced signs, homemade signs with original content, signs with famous quotes, political signs and humorous signs.

There was a three-year-old child perched on her mother’s shoulders with a sign covered in crayon scribbles that symbolized her expression and involvement without words. There was a man holding a sign that said, “Weak men fear strong women,” which symbolized his understanding of the importance of the movement, casting off the idea that supporting this movement indicated a hatred of men. There was a sign held by an elderly woman that read, “I can’t believe I’m still marching for this,” that showed the exasperation felt by her generation. There was an eight-year-old holding a sign that said “In ten years I can vote,” that portrayed the next generation’s stance. These were just four signs out of hundreds that caught my eye as a sea of people flooded the roads leading up to the Capitol on the way to the White House.

The people

There were hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Washington D.C. to march for women’s rights and they took various roads to get there.  Some were motivated by different causes, but in that moment they were unified. A large factor in that unification was the thousands of signs made and carried by marchers.

For a country struggling with class, racial and gender divides, the march was a place for people in all walks of life to come together and stand up for a cause they not only deemed worthy, but necessary. At the march, the signs were an external indicator of the intentions of participants and served as the glue that bound these differences together. Signs bridged the gap with a visual communicator by eliminating the possibility of misconception and replacing perception with reality.

Lee Mueller, a student at UNC-Chapel Hill, traveled eight hours by bus to attend the march.  She said, “The group that I was with, including myself, were all white, and so the signs were a visible identification that you were with the march. You knew everyone with a sign was on your side and it created a sense of community.” She acknowledged the anger felt by some of the participants because of the number of white women who voted for Trump in the election and stressed the sense of relief that holding the sign brought her. “I really feel like it showed those around me that I was fighting the same fight as them.”

People all around the world participated in the march for different reasons. For some, it was reproductive rights, for others it was gender equality and still more for the general fear felt in response to the changing government in Washington D.C. The signs gave marchers a chance to vocalize that reason. It united people, it sparked conversations and it broadened people’s mindsets. Signs were also a way to convey a message to many people without stopping to converse. It was possibly a way to voice more uncomfortable opinions that marchers wouldn’t normally voice in their daily lives. Instead of speaking with each person you encountered, you could quickly glance around and understand why this march was important to the people there. The signs also presented a way for participants to forge connections with fellow marchers. Kayla Seigler, a student at UNC-Charlotte, carried a sign specific to her university. “I actually found a couple other people who I go to school with because of my sign,” she said. “I had never met them, but we exchanged numbers and planned to keep in touch after the march.”

The effects of signs

Additionally, the signs were a symbol of commitment. Not only did marchers take time out of their day to attend the march, they also felt compelled to make a sign specifying their hopes of long-term results. Sarah Lerner, a resident of the D.C. area said, “It was thousands of voices expressing themselves on cardboard, which is more action than just simply showing up.” She mentioned that because of her geographic proximity, attending the march was not a huge effort to make and so she wanted to show other marchers that she was passionate about the cause in another way — by making a sign.

There was some debate over the long-term effects of the signs. Mueller did admit that she believes that the primary purpose of the signs was an outlet for the personal purpose of each marcher, rather than a message to political figures. “I think the true message that was received was the sheer number of people behind the signs,” she said. However, Tucker Morgan, a senior at Trinity College said, “I think signs do make a difference to political figures as it gives them some insight into the issues people feel strongest about.” Lerner held a third opinion. “I don’t really care if my sign sent a message,” she said. “The important part is that it allowed me to use my voice to express my opinion.”

Signs and social media 

The fact that this march took place in the 21st century, where social media was able to come into play, only adds to the importance of signs. Thousands of photos of signs surfaced in the days after the march, constantly providing visual evidence of the sheer number of people who attended the march. Morgan from Trinity College said, “The fact that, through social media, the signs could be quickly circulated and turned into memes, tremendously increased the impact they had.”

Unfortunately, the presence of social media also opened the event to criticism. One downfall of the signs was the lack of gender inclusion felt by the transgender community. The repetitive visualization of female reproductive organs that were displayed across hundreds of signs alienated a significant number of marchers that consider themselves intrinsic to the women’s rights movement. The appearance of the signs on social media also allowed the images to be altered by those who opposed the movement. The Internet was able to analyze signs over an extended amount of time and eventually twisted the meaning of signs produced with pure motives into harsh and judgmental phrases.

What now?

Now that the march is over, most participants have gone back home to return to their lives. However, what remains are the thousands of signs lining Pennsylvania Avenue, sending every message the protestors deemed worthy of carrying throughout the streets of Washington DC to the new president. Seigler from UNC-Charlotte compared this to how one would leave a memento or bouquet of flowers at a grave. “I got that impression because I think that many women did feel like they lost something after the election.” She went on to compare her view of the neatly and strategically placed signs to a compilation of art in a museum. This comment was a foreshadowing of what was to come, because on Monday morning, many universities and art institutions began collecting the signs as pieces of history to preserve for decades to come. So although the march was over, the messages placed on the signs will be safeguarded for future generations to see and remember.

Each participant in the march came as an individual, but they left with a sense of community. Mueller from UNC-Chapel Hill said, “I can’t say enough positive things about the march. It gave me so much hope and was easily one of the most memorable weekends of my life.” The signs were the messages voiced by thousands every day across the world. The march allowed people to put faces to those holding the messages.

Looking forward

Just as an exit sign on the highway signals a new town, the signs at the Women’s March signaled a promise to fight for change, a promise to be an ally and a promise to not forget where this country has been and where it needs to go. At the end of the day, the signs were more than a piece of poster board with words scribbled on it, but they were a symbol of the future, of what is to come and of promises left up and down the streets of the Capitol. The Women’s March on D.C. produced images that will be engrained in history for years to come and will serve as a source of hope for the country as it adapts to the new administration.

Edited by Avery Williams