Nick Gingold: Four years: memory card full.

It’s 1 a.m. and I find myself in a very familiar situation. My roommate is running around our Ivory Tower quad Febrezing every possible piece of fabric in sight with a look of determination in his eyes. The chairs, the couch and, yes, even the carpet. “Will Febreze work on carpet?” he asks. I have encouraged this behavior because, in all honesty, we’re not clean boys.

I’m chuckling to myself, not because he’s decided to do the dishes and “spray away” our room at this ungodly hour, but rather because if I can find comfort in this situation, do I stand a chance of being a productive member of normal society come graduation? The answer to this question, and whether Febreze works on carpet, remains unknown.

Each year, graduating editors are given 30 final column inches - called 30 pieces - to reflect on their time at The Hatchet. Browse all.

I had no idea how to start this column until about 30 seconds ago – I’ve never written a word for The Hatchet besides the information you find below my photos (who, what, when, where and why). But now it’s my turn, a departing message and reflection about my time at The Hatchet and as a student at The George Washington University. And yes, I started this column with Febreze.

Coming from Southern California, a campaign junkie at heart, I was excited about the prospect of living blocks from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. and horrified at the thought of facing a real winter. As we all know by now, anyone north of Washington will almost proudly proclaim that “D.C. doesn’t have real winters.” And now, seven semesters down and one to finish up, I find myself completely acclimated to the capital city, destined to be a resident for God knows how long after graduation.

If I had any idea how much The Hatchet would affect my life, I may have never entered that red brick townhouse in September 2005. I happened onto this organization haphazardly. It seemed to be, if nothing else, a good way to occupy my time and energy when the threat of homework looming over my head. Photography seemed thrilling to me, a hobby that I had long hoped to pick up. Being a news photographer had an appeal that I doubt I’ll ever be able to explain. So, with a blank slate in front of me and four years to fill it up, I thought, why not give it a shot?

Since then, I’ve had the honor of working for one of the best college papers in the country as a photojournalist. I’ve shot hundreds of assignments – thousands maybe – and have been able to develop this craft into what will hopefully become a successful career. I’ve been lucky thus far: Who could have predicted that by the end of my senior year I would have photographed two sitting presidents, the inauguration of one, a national memorial opening, a national political convention, an NCAA Sweet 16 game in Los Angeles, the opening night at Nat’s Stadium, and to top it off, a profile of Ben’s Chili Bowl? Who wouldn’t want Coach Hobbs to call them “mother fucker” mid-game? None of this, might I add, would have been accomplished without the help of The Hatchet and the hardworking people that have come to shape the past four years of my life.

The staff of The GW Hatchet is if nothing else, a weird bunch. I’ll go ahead and make that claim knowing that the copy editor is going over these lines right now, unsure of whether or not to cross this paragraph out with a red pen, terrified that our hidden peculiarities might finally come to the surface. But as I’ve come to find, the weird ones are the ones that get things done. The best people I’ve seen come out of this paper have all been odd in their own way, yet they have taught me so much through their relentless pursuit of solid journalism.

I’d venture to say that most of us graduating this year, 16 in total, are all pretty weird too. Who knows what makes us this way. Is it the long hours with little pay, the sleepless nights editing, toning photos or producing pages, townhouse fever, perhaps? I like to think instead that we’ve put so much into this paper that we’ve all left a little bit of our sanity with it. I know I have, and my friends outside of The Hatchet can attest to that.

That being said, don’t discredit the warmth and personality you will find in each staff member. There’s an odd thing that happens when you spend too much time at the Hatchet townhouse – you gain not only friends but an extended family. Those who you work with become your confidants, your advisers and fellow jokesters. I won’t list anyone individually, but to those who I’ve shared long nights with and hours outside the office on assignment, to the past and present editors that have shaped me into the photographer I am today, thanks for making this all worthwhile. Without you guys, The Hatchet wouldn’t have the charm, the level of professionalism or the sense of amusement that I will always associate with it.

To those of you reading this who have ever been skeptical of The Hatchet’s intentions or about its true level of dedication to unbiased journalism, I can do nothing more than let you know that we’ve done our best. And the best is all we’re capable of.

There are of course, others to thank. My family is first and foremost responsible for any successes I’ve had. Kristin, Kate and of course Mikey, you guys will always be my best friends, my closest allies. Mom and Dad, I’d need a lot more than 30 column inches to express my thanks for the incredible level of support you guys have always given me. Thank you for giving me the chance to follow my dreams.

To my best friends, my real GW “family,” I could never have been so lucky to find people that make me laugh nearly as much as you all do, and I mean that in the best way possible. You guys do it all: offer support when it’s needed, set me straight when I need to be called out, and above all else you’ve always been there for me. I’ll be looking forward to sharing memories 20 years from now over drinks.

I guess what it comes down to is this: We all look for something to call comfortable and familiar, a rock if you will. For me, it’s been my friends, The Hatchet and a little hobby that’s turned into an obsession. Photography can take me many places. It’s made me travel the world over so far, attend events that I never could have dreamed of being a part of and opened doors that will (hopefully) lead to an interesting and satisfying life. All of that may be good and well, but at the end of the day I like to hang my hat at a more habitual place called home, and I’m happy to say I’ve made one here at GW. -30

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