Gabriella Demczuk: A journey of images in words

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, published in the final issues of the year.

I wish I could write a beautiful piece about how I fell in love with photography in my high school’s dark room. How my high school photo teacher, the brief section on visual journalism in my random SMPA class and the piles of National Geographic magazines my parents collected convinced me to give photojournalism a try.

I wish I could write about how unnecessarily dramatic my freshman year was, or that I, like so many other lost freshmen, didn’t know my own value in the GW community.

I wish you knew how much that changed when I took my first steps into The Hatchet townhouse my sophomore year.

I wish I was able to express how a group of incredibly passionate Hatchet photographers who believed so much in the power of the moment, who gave up absolutely everything to make sure that they had the perfect photo, the right edit and the exact caption for every story, were the greatest influences in my life, my biggest supporters, my toughest critics and my greatest friends.

I wish I could convey how these unbelievable individuals have motivated me for the past three years to do everything possible to develop as a photographer – to take the photo internship with The Hill newspaper covering Capitol Hill politics and the 2012 election, the photo internship with the Baltimore Sun, the multimedia internship with NPR, my role as contributing multimedia editor for the Hatchet and video editor for National Geographic’s video on deforestation in Madagascar.

I wish I could convey how the stories I have had the incredible opportunity to create are the reasons why I love what I do and keep doing what I do—the story on the beauty of dance, a man’s love of auto racing, a gypsy community’s struggle to create a permanent life in France and a homosexual couple’s struggle to remain legally in the United States.

I wish I could get across how little I slept.

I wish I could write about how I worried way too much over the past four years and that how all the all nighters I pulled to finish my essays, all the friends that I thought were forever, all the loved ones I gave too much of my heart to, all the financial issues and family troubles that kept me up at night, all have come and gone, leaving only The Hatchet as the constant in my life.

I wish I could communicate, as easily as I can with images, how important The Hatchet was to me through it all. But I’m not a writer and I don’t know how to truthfully express myself through words, so bear with me as I try to convey how much these next individuals have shaped my time at GW, my memories of The Hatchet and the future to come.

This will be the first – and last – piece by me that you will ever read in The Hatchet.

***

To Anne, Michelle, and Chris, you lit the flame that started the fire. No words will ever convey the gratitude I have for what you have given me. Thank you.

To Jordan and Francis, my photo partners in crime. Thank you for making these past years so memorable—from staying up all night with me and catching the first metro at 5:25 a.m. to iHop, to the photoventures, summer night outings, salsa dancing and chilling at the photo house/den.

To Marie, my coworker turned friend turned co-editor turned classmate and best friend turned intern buddy…. I don’t know what will happen after our time at NPR but thank you for making it one of the best internship experiences I’ve ever had and for always making me smile. Like I said before, I cannot help but feel like a better person when I am around you.

To Gabe, I know we have had our creative differences but what else is to be expected when two divas are stuck managing the same section? Thank you for sticking by me, hearing me out and for always being level headed. And for making me laugh so much. And thank you for bringing music back into my life at 2 a.m. in the piano room.

To Annu, I don’t know where I would be without you. I cannot thank you enough for always being there for me throughout the years. I hope that this is not the end but the start of a longer adventure where we finally take one of the many trips we’ve been planning and find time in our lives to look at the world in awe. For what is life if there is no wonder and awe?

To Priya, you are the greatest roommate anyone could ask for, even if I did see you more times at The Hatchet than I did at home… No one else I know could understand my dilemmas or join in my rants like you do. Nor do I know anyone else who could match my passion for a profession as you do for journalism. I wish more people could see that. I wish they knew the intensity with which you hunger for the craft and how will not stop until you get what you want. I have absolutely no doubts that you will do better than just well in your future journalism endeavors.

To everyone else at The Hatchet that I got to know so much better this year: Thank you for the laughs and for making me feel like I had a place on staff. I really appreciate it.

To the volume 110 Hatchet editors, don’t let the small things get to you or you will only lose sight of the bigger picture. Take care of each other, and understand that it takes a team to create The Hatchet – not just an individual.

Don’t forget to breathe sometimes and just go with it. Your time here will go by very quickly and, soon, you too will be writing a 30 piece.

To my friends outside the Hatchet, I’m so grateful to have had you and to have had someone to turn to when I needed a break from life.

To my family, thank you for never doubting me. You have no idea how much it means to me. I hope to always make you proud wherever I may end up. I love you all so very much.

***

What I really wish I could write about is my future but I don’t know what that will be. I wish I could say that I had a plan but I don’t. The only thing that I can say with certainty is that I will keep moving forward like I’ve always done, creating art and telling stories for many more years to come.

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