I’m always interested in how people find their professions. My own desire to become a journalist grew out of a love of writing. As I struggled to put words on paper, I came to admire journalists who wrote so well on tight deadlines. I wanted to learn how to do that.

Historian Nicole S. Maskiell of the University of South Carolina found her professional spark on a walk through a graveyard in Harvard Square. There she came across a tombstone marking the life of an enslaved teenager named Cicely who died during a measles epidemic in 1714. Maskiell learned that Cicely’s enslaver was a minister and a tutor at Harvard. But she had more questions, including why Cicely’s death was memorialized when so many others were not. The history she uncovered speaks to today’s pandemic.

This week, we also liked articles that made a moral argument for nixing student debt, explained why Kenosha, Wisconsin experienced a wave of violence and suggested ways to improve DIY contact tracing.

Emily Costello

Deputy Editor

Over 1.4 million people have died from COVID-19 so far this year. How history memorializes them will reflect those we most value.

Cicely was young, Black and enslaved – her death during an epidemic in 1714 has lessons that resonate in today’s pandemic

Nicole S Maskiell, University of South Carolina

US monuments and memorials have overlooked frontline workers and people of color affected by past epidemics. Will we repeat history?

Students pulling a heavy ball representing the total outstanding student debt in the U.S. at over $1.5 trillion. PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP via Getty Images

The morality of canceling student debt

Kate Padgett Walsh, Iowa State University

President-elect Joe Biden promised to forgive some part of student debt. An ethicist considers what's fair.

An activist is arrested after his van was stopped by Kenosha police Aug. 27, days after police shot a Kenosha man, Jacob Blake, seven times in the back, leaving him paralyzed. Scott Olson/Getty Images

Wisconsin’s not so white anymore – and in some rapidly diversifying cities like Kenosha there’s fear and unrest

John M. Eason, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Benny Witkovsky, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Chloe Haimson, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Jungmyung Kim, University of Wisconsin-Madison

New research on Wisconsin's changing demographics suggests that racial integration and political polarization were a combustible combination in Kenosha, where violence erupted in August.

Dry ice pellets can be used to maintain the ultra-cold temperatures required for Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

How COVID-19 vaccines will get from the factory to your local pharmacy

Bahar Aliakbarian, Michigan State University

A pharmaceutical supply chain expert explains the challenges of distributing the COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna that need to be kept at very low temperatures.