Brianna Gurciullo: Finally learning to let go

Media Credit: Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

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.

I don’t let go very easily.

I’m a person who always wishes she could change the things that can’t be changed. I wish I had a little more time for everything – time to give that story one more read, time to do one more round of fact checking, time to get one more question answered before hitting publish.

But The Hatchet, like all news organizations, has deadlines to meet. We have to send the files of our pages to the printer by 1 a.m. on Sundays. We have to blast out the weekly email edition as early as we can on Thursday afternoons. For seniors, we have to make our mark on this paper by late April.

Time is eventually up – even if we wish we could go back and do some things differently, or wish we had a little more time to make changes and fixes before we leave. Everything can’t be perfect.

This 111-year-old institution puts a weight on you, which both drives you and keeps your ambitions in check. Editors who came before you and set new precedents do the same.

You watched your predecessors agonize over writing the perfect lede for that enterprise story or making the design just right for the front page, and you do the same when it’s your name at the top of the masthead. You saw them celebrate when a story gained national attention, and when you’re in charge you think about what kind of ramifications your team’s stories will have. You helped them move to a new townhouse, and you’re motivated to build on their traditions.

The expectations come from all angles and at varying degrees. You – more than anyone else, probably – put the most pressure on yourself, and you end up making decisions you never thought you’d have to make.

But I’ve learned that letting go is often needed. You need to let go of past mistakes and figure out what you need to do right now. You need to let go of what you can’t control and focus on what you can. You need to let go of what you wish you could accomplish and instead enjoy the successes you’ve had.

Then you need to let go of the place that’s been your home for four years. You had your time to learn from it, fall in love with it, sometimes question your relationship with it, come back to it and grow up with it. You had your time to break stories, cover the cool events, interview interesting characters, make sense of data, ask hard questions and work with a team. Then you had time to try to teach and cultivate the talent of others, set goals, find your own leadership style and somehow oversee 35 print editions, 10 special issues and 24 email editions.

My time is up and I’m letting go of The Hatchet. But I understand now that letting go is how you create new opportunities. It’s time for others to have their chance to work through new experiences, test themselves and make an impact on this campus. Then it will be a new group’s turn after them. It’s what makes The Hatchet great, and what makes letting go a little less hard.

Robin E. and Brandon C.: I love your energy and curiosity. Keep working hard because you have such bright futures ahead of you.

Ellie and Ryan: Your work this year has been outstanding and you’ve become a part of the news team so naturally. You both have a lot to give to this organization, and it will give back to you even more than you imagine.

Eva: You’re one of the toughest members of this team. I’ve been impressed by your maturity, your critical thinking and the way you speak up for what you believe is right. Trust your instincts and don’t doubt yourself.

Jacqueline: Chloe and I always knew you were going to rise at this newspaper. Be relentless, but don’t be ruthless. Don’t take anyone’s bullshit, but give people a chance. If you ever need me, I’m here.

Blugerson: It’s been amazing to see you grow as a writer and leader on the paper this year. Keep calling it as you see it, but remember to have an open mind. Your hard work is going to make a difference for both the opinions page and this organization.

Robin: I can’t remember which person we were with, but someone once told us last year to take a photo together smiling because it would be the last one we would have for a while. But a year later, I think we have more that one photo together where we’re smiling. Thanks for always checking in on me. Dude, I absolutely think you’ve done the best you could this year, and I’m proud of you. BFFF?

Justin: I’ve said it before, but I really do think you are one of the most thoughtful members of staff. You try to understand every issue that’s put in front of you from every possible angle. You’ve also shown your care for this organization again and again. Thank you for all your work this year. I should have told you more often how much I’ve appreciated it.

Desi, Katie and Dan: The Hatchet is lucky to have such talented and dedicated people on staff. You have each stood out since you first joined the photo team. Make big goals for yourselves because you’re sure to accomplish them.

Cam: You’re a great mentor to your photographers. I’ve seen how much they appreciate your feedback and advice. Everyone knows you brought The Hatchet’s sports photography to a new level, but you also deserve credit for helping develop the photo section.

Sam Klein: One of my favorite memories from this year was working on the cover image for the Greek life guide with you. I had totally under-prepared for that issue, but you took what we had and turned it into something I’m still proud of. You grew into your role as senior photo editor this year, leading our visuals and developing the next generation of photo editors. Thanks for rolling with the punches with me.

Nora P.: I wish we took more than one trip to Bumblefuck while listening to TSwift, Lil Bow Wow and Quad City DJs. I’ve enjoyed working with you so much this year. You’ve elevated the sports section to a new level with your creativity, thoughtful approach to stories and tenacity as a reporter, and I’ll be following Hatchet Sports as all that continues. Let me know if you ever need some waffles. Mark: You worked so hard this year as a writer and editor. I’ll be keeping an eye out for your byline next year.

Jeanine: You’re my fighter. You stepped up when other people would have run away and have become an essential part of staff. You’re a fantastic writer and reporter, and the culture page is going to reflect that. I’m expecting great work from you and Victoria. Keep your standards high because I know your team can meet them.

Brandon Lee: I’m really happy you’ve made The Hatchet your thing because you have so much to give to this place and I think there’s so much you can get out of it. From editing your first blog to hiring you as a research assistant to promoting you to copy editor, it’s been a blast to see you get so involved.

Raquel de la Guerra: You really are a soldier. You battled through every print and email edition. Thanks for making me smile every Sunday and Wednesday this past year. Don’t worry about being a slug. Yes, you are really here.

SLaFrance, Nora F. and Anna: I have loved visiting you guys on the third floor during prodo and brainstorming for pages and graphics. I’ve learned so much from you three, and you’ve all made The Hatchet a more collaborative place to work.

Sophie: You’ve redefined the term “hard working” for me and proven yourself incredibly reliable in the most stressful situations. You have taken such initiative this year and should be so proud of your team. Thanks for being there. I can’t wait to see what you do next year.

Blair, Kendall and Diana: You’re strong journalists, dedicated team players and caring editors. You’ve pushed yourselves this year to try new videos, and took on an ambitious project that will inspire the next generation of videographers. Thanks for your commitment and never failing to make me laugh.

James and Lauren: You both entered new roles last year under tough, frustrating circumstances. Thank you for sticking with The Hatchet and setting up the next generation of business staffers for what I am sure will be success.

Melton: You might be the most unexpected part of my Hatchet experience. I had started to lose hope that we would find someone who was both great at business and committed to The Hatchet. But probably most unexpected of all was that we would become such good friends. Thanks for the dinners, that edible arrangement and letting The Hatchet destroy your sleep schedule. Team business: I’ve enjoyed getting to know you guys over the last few months, and I hope you consider yourselves a part of this crazy Hatchet family.

Francis: Your advice and criticism has meant so much to me, and both the photo and design teams. Thanks for stopping by prodo all those times and checking the green-to-yellow ratio. And thank you for running out that one time and taking the lead photo for the sex issue.

Cory: Your honesty and feedback have been invaluable to me. You taught me to go with my gut and have confidence in myself. I feel like we’re on the same page in many ways when it comes to journalism and our passion for reporting. Thank you for being my model as a writer, answering every text, call and gchat this year, and buying me lunch or dinner on more than one occasion when I needed to vent.

Priya: I’m happy I went to all your office hours as a freshman. There’s no way I would have made it this far if you hadn’t been my editor for two years. You taught me to ask the questions no one else will ask, to always tell it like it is, to never let it go if I’m stonewalled. I’ll always be a cop chaser. Thank you.

CNN’s Jeremy Diamond: I’ve always envied your natural talent. When we first joined staff, Gabe Muller said we were like two little mice that fell into a bucket of cream. One of us would drown, and one of us would keep going and churn the cream into butter. “So just turn shit into butter,” he said. I like to think we both turned shit into butter. I’ll make sure someone looks after Karl when I’m gone.

Mel: I still remember sitting across from you during intro to news writing freshman year and thinking, “This is someone I could be good friends with.” You and I have grown so much since then, and I’m happy we’ve stayed friends along the way. Peace, love, Chron.

Colleen: Remember when we took a little Metro ride to Arlington and had quite the eventful interview in a certain person’s driveway? I’ve had some of my craziest, most fun Hatchet memories with you. Whenever I think I couldn’t be any prouder, you exceed expectations again. Just remember, even though you’re going to feel like it sometimes, you’re never alone. If it’s around noon and you need to find your Zen, I’ll be on gchat.

Chloe: You’re the yin to my yang. While I obsessed over details, you pushed me to think about the bigger picture. When I harped on mistakes, you reminded me to keeping moving forward. The news team couldn’t have come close to producing the kind of in-depth stories it has produced this year without you, and you have left a permanent mark on this paper. Through every story, prodo, email edition and guide, you’ve been my rock and there to confirm that I indeed had not yet lost my mind. But I think what I’ll remember most from this year is all the times we’ve laughed – from my office to the design desks at 1 a.m. on Sundays to the floor of Mel’s apartment during Hatchet Thanksgiving. You’re an incredible journalist and friend. Thanks for everything.

Zach: Let’s face it – I will never come close to repaying you for all the coffee, beer and Captain Cookie you’ve bought for me over the last year. Do I owe you for the Gatorade and crackers, too? Anyway, and I really should tell you more often, you’re my best friend and one of the best things The Hatchet has given me. You’re a talented journalist – as a writer, photographer, videographer and editor – who is going to modernize this organization, pick apart our flaws and keep our bullshit to a minimum. Our digital presence would be nowhere close to where it is today without you here. I’m so excited to see what you and Colleen do next year. And if times get stressful, you’ll always have an open spot on my couch, where a bottle of Blue Moon and an episode of “Game of Thrones” will be waiting. Bring an extra Mets hat.

Ferris: You and Cory trusted me with this newspaper, and I hope I made you both proud. Thanks for being there as my editor. Thanks for all the pep talks before interviews, reading every draft, giving me a kick in the ass when I needed it, driving with me to courthouses and police stations, and believing in me when I didn’t. Your selflessness always inspired me to try harder. And thanks for being there as my sister. Thanks for cooking me dinner, cleaning my dishes, throwing my birthday parties, teaching me how to make a gin bucket, showing me the farm and letting me sleep on your shoulder on the plane ride to Kenya. Yes, we can finally talk about non-Hatchet things now.

Mom, Dad, Dani, Jason, Heather and Amanda: I’ve learned hard work and dedication from you. Thank you for all your support as I was doing what I loved and made me most happy. And thank you for all the photos of Lucas, Logan and Jasper. See you all at Misquamicut beach in August.

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