One in Two Thousand: Chiaka Leilah Duruaku ’26

Amina Naidjate

(Amina Naidjate/The Williams Record)

Each week, the Record (using a script in R) randomly selects a student at the College for our One in Two Thousand feature, excluding current Record board members. This week, Chiaka Leilah Duruaku ’26 discussed the transition to Williamstown from New York City, her list of movies to watch, and working as a sound technician for a Ritmo show. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Amina Naidjate (AN): Last time I saw you was the first week of your freshman year. How’s it been going since?

Chiaka Leilah Duruaku (CLD): Coming into college, I had this fantasy about its rigor that made it very intimidating to me, but I’d say what’s made the experience doable for me is just being able to laugh all the time and suffer collectively with other students. I’m half-joking, of course, but yeah, just having that makes it so much better. It’s what makes Williams the school that it is more than anything else, at least as a freshman who just got here. 

AN: You’re from New York City, right? How was the transition to very not city-ish Williamstown?

CLD: I’d like to consider myself a moderately adaptable person, so it wasn’t too hard for me in comparison to some people I know from the City. For me, I guess just not having access is different. In New York City, there’s so much — sometimes, too much. It’s overabundant, and sometimes it feels like everything all at once.

That’s part of the reason why I wanted to go to a college with a traditional campus — a place where it just felt calmer and there was seemingly less going on. And even with less going on in Williamstown, I’m still able to have fun.

AN: How do you typically have fun on campus?

CLD: All of my friends are in different clubs and programs, so I’ll float around their programming, and sometimes we try to find tiny pockets of time to watch a movie. The people that I’ve met [and I have] made this “watch list” of movies and TV shows we want to watch. We went to North Adams last week to watch something.

AN: Ooh, what’s on the list?

CLD: OK, so it’s titled “Twi-hards” because our first goal was to watch all five Twilight movies. Now, they’re terrible movies. People may disagree with me, but I think they’re really bad. I saw the first one and some of the second before I fell asleep. But anyway, there’s Twilight, Mulan, Dumb and Dumber, Inception, The Conjuring, Lemonade Mouth, Star Wars — we’ve seen like two of them — Nightmare Before Christmas, Shrek, Top Gun, Mamma Mia, [The Adventures of] Sharkboy and Lavagirl, The Shining… So yeah, there’s a lot of stuff. There’s also a lot of stuff that I don’t want to necessarily see — like the scary stuff — but I’ll take one for the team.

AN: Outside of academics, what things are you involved with on campus?

CLD: I’m in a few affinity groups, like [​​Williams African Student Organisation] WASO, Sisterhood, and the [Black Student Union] BSU, so I just like to be present in those communities. Oh, and I was the sound technician for the Ritmo Show.

AN: Hold up, that’s so cool! Tell me more.

CLD: OK, so it happened by chance. I remember I was in Sawyer studying — that’s right, I was actually doing work in Sawyer library — and I looked at the Black chat when I saw this message asking, “Is anyone able to help with sound tech stuff for the Ritmo show? You don’t need any experience. We’ll train you. Just let us know.” I was thinking about how other students have managed to get gigs or jobs somehow, and I was like, “Well, why don’t I try this?” 

Now, I’ll tell you, I don’t have any experience with sound tech. I’ve been in a few plays in my life, but that’s where it ends. But I decided to take my chance. So I responded, they trained me, and it was really cool, but it was also anxiety-provoking. Sometimes during the show, someone would be like, “Um, we can’t hear this,” or “[Play the music] a little louder,” or, “People in the back can’t hear.” and I was worried that they were going to hate me for not doing a good job. But it worked out really well because everyone was really nice to me, and it felt amazing to be a part of something so cool and to contribute to making it happen. Of course, [Ritmo] was training for months and months and did all the dancing, but it was really cool to be able to supply the sound and amplify their efforts — literally. And hopefully I’ll be in an upcoming show as a sound tech again.

AN: OK, some rapid-fire questions. Mission or Driscoll?

CLD: Driscoll, if you’re willing to make the journey.

AN: Go-to Goodrich order?

CLD: Plain bagel with Nutella and a mocha. If you’re trying to be different, maybe get an everything bagel with Nutella.

AN: Was “The Dress” black and blue or white and gold?

CLD: It’s black and blue, and everyone knows it. Don’t tell me you saw white and gold.

AN: I did see white and gold.

CLD: Oh my gosh. Alright, please lose my number. [Laughs.]