Lyndsey Wajert: Eternally grateful for an audience

Each year, graduating editors are given 30 final column inches – “30” was historically used to signify the end of a story – to reflect on their time at The Hatchet.

What I’ve loved about my time at The Hatchet is that in my four years at GW, together a mere flash in the history of this institution, the paper has given me a voice. Well, not simply a voice, but an audience willing to listen.

Every Monday and Thursday, people wake up to their e-mail editions or grab a paper on the way to class, and there you are. You have an audience.

I had never considered myself an “opinionated” person before coming to GW or The Hatchet, and to this day, I try to avoid that label. But as an incoming freshman with an interest in media, I wanted to get involved in the paper.

During a Colonial Inauguration open house, I walked up the narrow stairs of 2140 G and met Tim Gowa. Tim was always able to read people better than I ever could, so he pointed me to the opinions section. And whether he was introducing me to the editors, suggesting that I go on an Alternative Breaks trip to NOLA or helping me through the various “senior moments” I’ve had this year, I’ve never regretted listening to him.

I wish I could say that after that I was hooked. But the beauty of GW is that we are bombarded with options and internship opportunities and, oh yeah, classes.

College kicked in, and I missed the first ops meeting.

It took an e-mail from the editors and some insightful advice from my dad to get me to write. So I glanced through the paper and saw a news article on GW and sustainability. I e-mailed Claire and asked if I could write about it.

I had her attention and two days to finish the column.

Claire and Diana were my first audience, and I’m so grateful for that. Claire always looked over my questions before I sent them to the likes of Dr. Chernak, something for which I am still immensely grateful. Diana always edited my pieces after she left work on Fridays, a move that was never lost on a freshman getting ready to go out for the evening. They let me write about the Science and Engineering Hall and encouraged me to form my voice. Always supportive even after they graduated, a nice note from them has admittedly brought me to tears.

After writing more columns and getting some nice and not-so-nice comments from other members of the audience, I worked my way up to be contributing ops editor.

I found a big brother in my editor, Justin. He knew the power of his voice and challenged me to strengthen mine. When he wasn’t heckling me about boys or my obsession with Philadelphia, he was encouraging me to come up with hard-hitting pieces and to learn more about GW. I still look up to him for so many reasons, and though I took over for him in three different roles at The Hatchet, he never made me feel like I was waiting in the wings.

When Justin took on a staff development role, he partnered up with Erica from team prodo. I’m not sure if the phrase “ops loves prodo” originated with her, but I like to think it did, simply because of her humor, wit and fabulous taste in music. She taught me about the staff and would eventually guide me in planning Hatchet events, and I’ll always appreciate how she was willing to answer my frantic texts, no matter the hour.

As an ops editor, I soon realized how important it was for the columnists and cartoonists to find their own voices, to hone their styles and to express their passion when writing or drawing. They never let me down, and they made me proud of the section more than I can convey.

And my fellow editors were encouraging, nicknamed me “twinnie” and gave me a newspaper bouquet at Hatchet prom. We bonded over love of food and frustration with homework. I’ll never forget the Waldo incident; I will always love popcorn and fried Oreos, and I will forever curiously embrace my nickname “Alice” because of them.

And as opinions editor, I found both a contributing editor and my “little” in Annu. When I was too cynical, she had the perfect dose of optimism. When I started a sentence, she finished it, which happened in both staff eds and daily conversations. I’m so, so proud of what she has done at The Hatchet and in our friendship. Our bond rivals that of the characters we adore on the 30-minute sitcoms we manage to watch together. It’s legendary.

Then there was Doug – oh hey Doug – who filled Annu’s role when she took mine. He convinced me that research wasn’t terrible for GW. He made me laugh and roll my eyes at the same time with his dad jokes and impressions. He’s such a dear friend, and I can’t wait until we get those Masters tickets.

So with my final role at The Hatchet, I became the director of development. A “behind-the-scenes” job, it required me to make sure that everything with the large cast ran smoothly.

And what a cast it was.

Whether I was belting out Top 40 with prodo or singing Barbra with Gabe, celebrating holidays with Allison and Traynor, throwing birthday parties or meeting at Froggy, playing skee-ball with Caroline and getting body jewelry with Turley, crying over break ups or celebrating new jobs, sitting through classes with the Slayah Andrea, opining in edboard or kvetching about media relations, it was a joy to develop this ensemble.

I could not have done it without Lauren. I’ll never forget singing Garth, catching up over brunches and our Friday night editing sessions. It hasn’t always been easy for us, but know that whether you’re stuck in jail in a random country or simply hoping to talk about life, I’ll be there as both an advocate and a friend.

Then there was Rach, who has been there from my start and carried on the ops-loves-prodo legacy. She’s seen me at my best and worst, and for that, I’ll always treasure our friendship. Know that I’ll never forget our shenanigans, our whale noises and our sing-alongs. If the Pond didn’t keep you, Miranda and me apart, nothing will.

Miranda, Michelle and Marie, we’ve made it so far, and have so much more left. I can’t wait for this summer.

To the rest of my senior girls, these next few weeks are ours. Get excited!

And of course, upon our graduation, a new group takes over. And boy, was it a joy to see the next cast get in place.

The way Priya shines puts the sun to shame, and everyone will see that. As my close friend and sister, her baking, smiles and hugs have helped in more ways that I can count. However corny, I meant every word on that napkin. And I’ll be there when coffee only goes so far.

Patrick and Justin, the new ops editors, are going to be awesome at their jobs. Patches, thanks for helping with my final piece; you’re already thinking like a seasoned editor. I can’t wait to see what you two do with the page – remember to make it your own.

In all, it was a joy to rely on Brighton, my non-Hatcheteers and my adopted GW “fam.” You were my audience when I didn’t think I deserved one anymore. Thank you.

It was a joy to rely on my family. Not only were you my audience, but you were front row and center every time. Thank you for your love, advice and support.

Finally, it was a joy to write for all of you, the people who read this paper every issue. I’m sorry if you don’t know me or if you are just looking for the crime log, but thanks for reading today and all of these years. Because of you, my voice mattered.

So even without the audience, I’ll always have that voice. I’ll always have the opinions. I’ll always have the memories.

And that’s a wrap. -30-

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