Sarah Brown: Sounds like a plan

Anytime during the past four years when someone learned that I worked at The GW Hatchet, the following conversation more or less would ensue:

“You work at The Hatchet – are you a journalism major?”

“No, I am actually majoring in Spanish language and literature.”

“Oh, so do you want to go into international affairs or teach Spanish?”

“No, I am actually pre-med.”


Anyone who knows me is aware that I like to have a plan for everything that I do. I plan my days and weeks to make the most efficient use of my time, and I constantly think about the next steps. I arrived at The George Washington University, however, with just one plan: to be accepted to medical school.

Other than this goal, my college experience was completely up for grabs. I had no plan about what I would become involved in, what classes I would take and who I would hang out with. But everything just seemed to fall into place, and activities and projects simply popped up out of nowhere. For example, one day my friend, Lauren, and I ran a race for mental health and thought that it would be great to hold a similar event for the GW community. Five months later, it happened.

At the start of my senior year, I told myself that I would not become so busy, but then that perfect internship came along, and then that great research opportunity and then … oops.

Working at The Hatchet was certainly not planned. Sure, I was an editor-in-chief of my high school newspaper, but with organic chemistry and hours of hospital volunteering before me, I never thought I would be able to put so much time and energy into something that was not related to medicine and healthcare.

Yet when my friend Jenny Dierdorff, production manager of The Hatchet, suggested during my freshman year that I start training in layout and design, I could not resist the urge to become involved in something that I had always enjoyed in the past and that seemed to be such an important part of the GW community. When Jenny passed away two weeks later, I was in shock. However, I was immediately called upon to join The Hatchet’s staff in the production of the next day’s issue. The strength of the staff and its commitment to the newspaper was so impressive that I knew I had to stay. More than three years later, I am still a proud member of The Hatchet’s production team.

After serving as a production assistant for a year and a half, Michael Barnett asked me at the end of my sophomore year to be The Hatchet’s new production manager. As I had applied to an early acceptance program at GW’s Medical School, I told Barnett that I would love to fill this position – provided that I was accepted to medical school. I think he was as happy as I was that things worked out.

That year, I spent countless hours at 2140 G St. directing the production of each issue, and I learned that you don’t always need and can’t always have a plan. The front page could change at any moment after layout was complete if, for example, Red Sox fans decided to rejoice in Kogan Plaza after their team won the World Series. Despite my attempts one semester to begin the layout process earlier in the day so that we would complete the paper sooner, the final pages were still sometimes sent to press 10 hours later.

And I will never forget the many nights in which I rolled out of my bed at 4 a.m. after receiving a call from the printer to tell me that there is a font error on page seven. Yet, the appearance of The Hatchet on newsstands the next day depended upon me dashing back to the office to resend the page, and I could never let down the rest of The Hatchet staff (nor deprive the many students who eagerly await the new crossword puzzle for their Monday and Thursday morning classes). Besides, I just told myself that these moments were great preparation for being on-call as a physician.

And now it’s time for the thank yous…

Mosheh, Snow, Jeff Nelson, Julie, Liz Bart, Janice, Barnett, Siegel, Dempster, Baum and Stoneman: you were the original crew who welcomed me to The Hatchet, and I will never forget my first semester in this crazy place.

Past and present photo editors: I will not say that sitting next to the photo department was always a pleasure, but thanks for keeping layout entertaining.

Stoneman, Spector and Heins: Don’t you miss production back in the day when we had to beat the Phaser multiple times throughout a production night?

Ceasar: We have been on staff the longest, and we are both staying at GW next year. They can’t get rid of us! Maybe I will help you out with those long-term projects. (Oh no, here I go again…)

Butler, Caitlin, Gabe, Katie, and Marissa: Thanks for always investigating my news tips, some of which have certainly been better than others.

Maura: All I can say is, the Insider is done.

Kyle, Natalie and Tim: We all know that prodo is the best department of the paper!

Greg Gross: Can you close page 10? Thanks for catching all of those incorrect jumps.

Jake: I’ve enjoyed exchanging weekend gossip. You’ll be a great EIC.

To my friends: Wow, these four years really have flown. Thanks for all the fun times.

Steven: I certainly could never have planned on running into that cute guy I met at a medical school fair at Lulu’s Club Mardi Gras, and that we would be dating ever since. I love you! Thanks for always being there for me (and visiting me on production nights at The Hatchet).

To my family: The Hatchet staff has enjoyed listening to our many phone calls in which we discussed upcoming travel plans, the latest Mets’ games and Bryan’s college applications. I love you and appreciate all that you do for me!

In my four years at GW, I have learned that no matter what our academic and professional goals are, there can always be time for the people and issues that we care about. This is because being the president of a student organization or the editor of a newspaper, or being pre-med or pre-law or the member of a certain fraternity or a College Republican or Democrat does not define who we are. We do that through the words we use and actions we take each day.

The Hatchet staff is an incredible group of individuals with diverse interests and talents who unite to produce a common product twice each week, and I feel so lucky to have been a part of it. Looking back, I cannot imagine the past four years without The Hatchet. The reason, I have learned, is that this part of my life – like many other aspects of my college experience – was unplanned and unanticipated and, therefore, it became so special. No matter how busy I might have seemed at times or how often I thought that I would never check off every item on my to-do list, I would not take back one minute that I spent at The Hatchet nor doing anything else that made my four years at GW what they were.

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