Back in 2012, Nikki Muller ’05 seemed to be on the verge of becoming a star. Her parody video “The Ivy League Hustle” — part feminist manifesto, part post-college lament — was a YouTube hit, and suddenly Muller was giving interviews on national television. Some fans loved the video for the pure fun of it — its music, its swagger, and yes, its poke at Penn. But we also admired this young woman who pursued a creative life, even if that meant waiting tables, tutoring, and working odd jobs to support it. One scene in the video shows her panhandling on a curb, holding a sign that reads: “Will explicate Baudelaire sonnet 4 food.”
Muller’s moment of fame faded, but she continued to produce sharp, interesting work. PAW assigned freelancer David Walter ’11 to write a profile. In a way, Muller’s story is Walter’s, too. After college, he worked briefly at a hedge fund. Then he moved to Hong Kong to take a newspaper job, which led to freelancing: “It proved to me that there were different ways to live and that I could feel just as happy and secure not holding down an office job.”
Walter eventually returned to a day job, writing freelance articles at night. He loved journalism more than his daytime responsibilities. Last month, he became a full-time freelancer. He already has a file full of ideas and plans to report stories from the island nation of Palau, where he had spent a month. He might take a job later; for now, he says, “I want to become a better writer and report some stories that might not otherwise get told, and there are a lot of ways to do that nowadays.”
He has something else in common with Nikki Muller, as well: Both of them are stars.