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.
When I came to GW, I never, ever wanted to be a journalist. I was going to be a history professor, or bullshit around on the Hill or do literally anything else except report. Journalists were unpaid, overworked dreamers, and that’s something I never aspired to be.
But I lived on the Vern my freshman year, and it was a slow night. Somehow, be it divine providence or a friend leaving it behind, an application for The Hatchet multimedia section ended up in my room, behind my bed.
And well, because it was The Vern and there’s nothing better to do on a weeknight during your second week of freshman year, I filled it out. It took me about an hour total to do it. Worst case scenario, I wasted an hour of an otherwise slow night trying to join another student org.
What could possibly come from one application?
As it turns out, a lot. A whole lot. That dumb, rushed application turned into my entire life in college, and it turned into my home. The Hatchet has been an institution I have poured literal blood, sweat and tears into. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
For nearly my entire time at college, my home base has never been my dorm room or Gelman or whatever – it has always been the Hatchet townhouse. From the moment I walked in the doors of 2140 G, I knew I found where I wanted to be. One of my earliest memories was my first editor stopping a meeting to make us watch a concert of diva singers, and him regaling us with his deep, fawning affection for Aretha Franklin. And as weird as it sounded, I started to think that here’s where I would fit in.
And for a reason still beyond me, I was made an editor at the end of my freshman year. And I ran with it – right into a wall. I’ve never felt more in over my head then in those first couple of months – and never more certain that I wasn’t cut out to be a journalist. Sure, it was fun bopping around D.C. shooting videos, but all this could ever be was a hobby, right?
But I stuck with it, not because I thought I was any good, but because I wanted to be with my friends. I would hang around the townhouse my sophomore year, getting coffee and food for other editors just because I wanted to be with them. I huddled up in my chair at all hours of the day, butting in on meetings and peppering other editors with questions about what exactly they were doing. And inch by inch, I started to get better.
But my biggest problem has always been confidence. Despite all my bravado, I never think I’m really the guy for the job. I would never say I’m a good reporter, or a good writer – I just happened to be in the right place at the right time or the most willing to fall flat on my face. And in the last two years, The Hatchet has helped me break that problem – that maybe, just maybe, I could do this.
The Hatchet moved onto bigger things (say, a brand new townhouse) over the next two years, and so did I. I finally grew into my metaphorical paws. I stomped (shoeless) around the townhouse, teasing editors when they needed it and trying to help when they needed that too. I didn’t have to pretend I knew what I was doing, because sometimes I actually did. I knew I finally figured out what I was meant to do, and that was to be a journalist.
And as I accept that reality, I also have to accept another more crushing one – it’s time to let go. Time to move out of my home of the last four years, out into the real world and into newsrooms where I can’t kick off my shoes and scream about the Mets at all hours of the night. The Hatchet gave me some great experiences that all seemed to revolve around stalking the District’s dogs. But it also gave two other important things – the confidence to walk into these new newsrooms with my head held high and a group of lifelong friends to catch me when I fall. It gave me the strength to forge ahead, to infinity and beyond:
Sam, Molly, Maddie and Sean: Thanks for always putting up with my Hatchet crap, even when you really, really didn’t want to. You guys have kept me grounded in the outside world and each deserve far more words that I can give here.
Mom and Dad: I’m sure you couldn’t have been thrilled to watch me dive headfirst into a career with awful job security and even worse pay. You’ve both worked so, so incredibly hard your entire life so that could be a choice I could make, and there’s nothing in this world I’ll ever be able to do to repay that. Thank you so much for your support, I love both of you. Syd, thank you for being my long distance support system. You were always the better twin.
Gabe: There’s no better place to start my list of Hatchet folks than with you, right? I stumbled blindly into your section, and you let me stay. You were the first person who ever showed any confidence in what I was doing here, and the first one who pushed me to do more. Thank you for that, thank you for the impromptu concerts during multimedia meetings and thank you for everything. Without your guidance during my freshman year, I quite literally don’t know what I’d be doing with my life. Gabby, Marie, Francis and Gabe, thanks for adopting me into the bigger visuals family years ago. It’s been a blast.
Cory: As you put it much more elegantly than I ever could, where would I be without you? The answer is probably nowhere near where I am today. Thank you for hiring a dumb New Yorker who had absolutely no right being on staff. I hope I haven’t let you down because everything I’ve done at The Hatchet has been to prove that you made the right decision then. I miss yelling about baseball with you, and it looks like my eternal devotion to the Mets is starting to finally pay off. I selfishly hope you grow tired of the west coast so you move back here so that we can go to more ballgames.
Diana: One of my earliest memories as an editor was you basically threatening me into being your date to our first Hatchet prom. I was a huge dork who insisted on getting a matching tie, so thank you for putting up with that. But beyond the time, thank you for being my partner in crime. I don’t think either of us really knew what we were doing, but together we made a really phenomenal team. Nobody can light up a room like you do, and I miss your infectious happiness in the townhouse. The next time I’m back in New York, you owe me a bagel.
Big Gabe: Your “Hey, I’m Zach Montellaro” accent still needs some work, but I can forgive that. Besides the time you made an attempt to kill me, you were always there with a great joke (or a good beer) to lighten the mood. I’m still drinking crappy beer because you haven’t guided your mini-me, and that’s something we need to change now that I’m (almost) a real adult.
Culture crew: Some of you were the coolest folks I ever worked with (Morgan, Tati, Holla) and some of you (Ally) were the lamest, but there was never a time I didn’t enjoy spending time with each one of you.
Justin: Thank you for always making everyone laugh, and putting up with staff on Sunday mornings when all you wanted to really do was go home and sleep. You time and time again opened your literal doors to staff and helped make us into a family.
Jacob: I miss being able to bounce down to the first floor to give you a hug, because you give good hugs. You’re one of the smartest folks to ever walk through the townhouse doors and one of the most eloquent writers I’ve ever met. If there’s one college class I’d want to take in the future, it’d be whatever one you’re teaching. Move back to the east coast.
Nick Ong, Cam and Sean: My single greatest Hatchet memory is our road trip for the NCAA and joking about the hammer. I never had more fun than being on the road with the crew. There was nothing better than shooting the shit on the sidelines with you, Cam. And thank you, Nick and Sean, for letting me invade your first floor enclave to yell about sports. You guys always kept me humble. J Solo, thanks for helping to fill that sports void with our trips to The Tuck.
Chloe: I used to always joke I was always a bit afraid of you, but I was afraid of you because you are so damn good at what you do. Thank you for building up our news team to what it is. Nick Rice, you’re genuinely the coolest fucking dude I’ve ever met. I aspire to that.
Mel: On more than one occasion, you’ve saved me from being a total absolute wreck. Thank you for helping me make sure my shoes match my belt and making sure that I can pass off being a real adult to the outside world, both physically and mentally. I’m still not sorry for all the mean things I’ve said about your only true love, Tom Brady.
CNN’s Jeremy Diamond: There is not a person on the face of this planet who got more shit from me than you did, and probably not a person who gave more back to me. Thanks for always going beyond the headlines to bring us the story behind the story, and for busting your ass to get where you got to today. No one deserves it more. Once you’re finally off the trail, you owe me that drink.
RJK: When I joined staff, I was scared – scared that I wouldn’t fit in with everyone else, scared that nobody else would like me and scared that I wouldn’t last. And then I met you. You were the first person on staff to be my friend, and I’ll never forget the first Hatchet prom with us awkwardly huddling in some backyard not knowing anyone. You’re the most badass, kickass woman I’ve ever met, and I’m truly happy you’re in my life. Some of my favorite Hatchet memories here are the little things with you – just watching a ballgame or splitting mozzies from Gallery. Last year, you said you adore me – but RJK, the truth is I adore YOU.
Ferris: You’re an asshole and a half, but… you’ve also been one of the best parts about The Hatchet for me. You dragged me kicking and screaming out of my shell and into life in D.C. If it was up to me, I’d be curled up inside for my entire life and you don’t let that happen. And even though you give me a hard time, you’re always there with help with whatever I need. I don’t say it enough, but thank you Ferris. For everything.
Volume 113: I’m taking a bit of a cop out here, because there’s so many of you I don’t know all too well. That fills me with great pride – to know that there’s plenty of smart, dedicated folks still willing to give up their time to help make this institution shine. Nathan and the rest of the crew, I can’t wait to see what you guys do next year.
And a special shout out to you, Sam Hardgrove. I was crushed when you went abroad, because people like you are the heartbeat of this institution – dedicated and talented sure, but also a great friend. I hope Volume 113 will fully appreciate how lucky they are that they get to spend their time with you.
Melissa S: It was a crushing blow to find out you were a Yankees fan, but I’m glad we’ve moved past it. The second floor is quite literally a zoo, but every time I walked in you were the calm in the middle of the hurricane. The Hatchet needs more people like you who have the patience and poise to not only catch everyone’s dumb mistakes, but to fix them as well.
Grace K: One of the first things you ever said to me was pointing out how loudly I chew gum (which is a totally valid complaint). I’ve tried to chew more quietly, and as a reward I’ve gotten to know you. Thanks for letting me take up some of your space on the third floor, and for all the incredible stories I can live vicariously through. I was a bit shocked that someone on staff out-Disneyed me, but you’ve managed it. Please stop stealing my stuff and poking me.
Victoria, Grace and Regina: You guys were all put in unenviable positions of running sections with little notice, and you’ve all handled it like stars. Grace and Regina, I hope you guys keep trying new things to make the section your own, and Victoria I hope you tweet your heart out. Let every snow day be your prime.
Avery and Andrew: I’ve only gotten to know the pair of you this semester, but you two have been rockstars. Avery, you crack me up with your random asides, and I’ve never seen someone become so good at their job so quickly. Andrew, you come on staff in some of the hardest circumstances – replacing an editor in the middle of the semester. Your talent as a reporter has shown this last couple of weeks. Unlike the weird lady at the Nats game, you can always sit next to me.
Katie: Your dedication has been unmatched. Thank you for always being the first one at breaking news and the last one to leave and for running away with my hat.
Ryan: I’ve caught myself saying “aw man, I miss Ryan” a lot of times this semester. Your quippy jokes in the townhouse always made me laugh, and you can grow a hell of a beard. I’m so excited for Volume 113 that you’re coming back next year, because a bit of everything was missing without you in the townhouse.
Melissa H: No one else understands or cares about my rants about bagels or pizza, and even though I tease you about your boyfriend (hi Gary!), you still let me hang around. I was worried that when there was another Long Islander on staff, I wouldn’t get along with them. That was until I met you, because you’re one of the nicest folks I’ve had the pleasure of working with here. You’re better than awesome, and I can’t wait to see what you do with your section next year.
Tyler: The thing I admire most about you is your pure dedication to the institution. In less than a year, you’ve worn so many hats – and have excelled at all of them. If we actually lost you in the metro, The Hatchet would be lost as well. I’m also happy to see you’re already carrying one very important part of my job forward – making fun of everyone else.
Eva: I don’t know why, but the moment I caught you falling off that stool at the party, I knew you’d start catching everyone else. You’re one of the rocks that the Hatchet has – that no matter what your title is, you’re there to catch everyone else when they’re about to fall. Thank you for doing that, and for weathering the storm that was last year’s playoffs. Melton, I think the only thing you want to hear from me is a simple thing – let’s go Mets. Can’t wait for this year’s World Series parade.
Dez: Thank you for always being my biggest fan in the stands during basketball games. This year, as I moved off the court and up into the crowd, I’m glad I always had a friend I could watch the games with. I remember butting into all those photo meetings in 2140 G, and you made it a point to help me feel included. Thank you for showing me that everyone from Philly isn’t someone who throws batteries at Santa – a select few of you are awesome people. I’m so excited for you for Columbia next year.
Robin: I’ve never met someone so full of life as you – and someone who lets everyone know it. If I could have half as much fun in life as you did just a karaoke, it’d be a great one. And while I encourage you to give up your residency in the townhouse, I’m glad I can always wander in and find a friend at any hour of the day.
Video squad: Out of all the sections, you guys have had to put up with me the most because I could never really let go. I know that wasn’t particularly easy, so thank you for humoring me this year. Blair, you’re one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. A lot was dropped on your plate at the beginning of the year, and you’ve handled it with grace. I’m so proud that you’ve made your mark both on The Hatchet and in outlets around the city. Deepa, one of the best things I did for video was steal you away from the photo department. Thank you for bringing a new set of eyes to everything on The Hatchet and helping push video to do bigger and grander projects. Halley, your constant cheeriness has never failed to brighten up my day. Just being around you always put a smile on my face. Jake, we’re not there yet, but maybe someday you’ll earn the honor of watching pay-per-view wrestling with me. You’re going to be such a champ next year.
And Sarah – remember when I dragged you onto the paper? Even before you started here, I knew you’d be infinitely more talented than I’d ever be. There’s been nothing better than having a friend on staff who I knew outside of this crazy place first to tell me when I’m getting too ridiculous and remind me to see the outside world. Thank you for loaning out Andrew so I had someone to harass in class and for keeping me grounded.
Lillianna: There’s a lot of secrets you’ll never get out of me, and that’s going to drive you crazy forever. But one secret I will let you in on – I do wander into the townhouse to make sure the lights get turned off, but I also do that to spend time with you. You’re a good reporter and an even better person who never fails to make me laugh. I’m sorry it took me a bit to get to know you outside of the L&L Connection – but I’m so glad I did, because you might just be one of my favorites here (but I’ll never admit it).
Jeanine: One day, I want to be as half as cool as you. But until that day, I’ll just have to spend my time admiring you instead. Everything you’ve put your mind to, you’ve knocked out of the park. No matter the craziness that’s going on at some party, you’re always there to try to get me to loosen up and have some fun. I will never be an exciting man, but I get a lot closer to being one by just knowing you.
Brandon: My one true friend, Brandon Lee. If you asked me if I ever wanted to be on a watchlist, I’d say no. But after meeting you, it is one small trade-off that I’m willing to make if it means keeping you around. Your intelligence is matched only by your enthusiasm for libertarianism, and that’s quite alright. Even if it means dragging you out of Sign of the Whale every once and awhile, you’re one true friend I’m always glad I’ll have.
Dan: I thought there was only enough room for one grump on staff, but you proved me wrong. You’re one of the most talented shooters I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with, but more importantly, you’re one of the most kindhearted folks I’ve met. I’m glad you’re going to carry my mantle as Hatchet staffer who acts like a 43-year-old on the verge of retirement.
Mark: Big Mark! Thank you for putting up with all my crappy jokes and my dumb hugs. Watching you grow into the absolute phenomenal writer you are today has been awesome. Getting to meet people like you are what made The Hatchet worth it to me. One day, I hope to earn a “savage” from you – but until then, I’m glad you are my buddy.
Jax: I’m so, so, so, so proud of you. I don’t ever say that enough, but I really am. Watching you transform from some dope I suckered into joining the multimedia section into such a strong journalist has been one of my proudest moments here. You’ve handled such a stressful job here and the paper would be nowhere without you. Thank you for taking my jokes well, and thank you for making me proud.
Ellie: The paper couldn’t be in better hands than yours next year. Being in charge is never easy – but I already know you’re going to do phenomenally. In the less than two years you’ve been on staff, you have already helped transform your team and the organization as a whole. My only regret from working with you is that I never met your dog, because in everything else you’ve done, there can be nothing to regret.
Sam LaFrance: I’ve been spoiled with a lot of things at The Hatchet – but the thing that’s spoiled me the most is you, because if you’re the mortal enemy I’m going to have in this world, it is going to be a pretty easy life. You took on so much more than you signed up for here, and most of that involves dealing with me. Every time I hear a One Direction song I can’t help but smile, because I know somewhere, you’re laughing at my discomfort. I don’t think I want to be a sack of skin or a skeleton, but if that’s a decision I had to make to keep you around, I’d make it 10/10 times.
Bluge: One of our first real conversations was me making fun of you’re selfie face, so we had nowhere to go but up. I’m glad you let me burst your little ops bubble you had on the third floor, because I came to realize how much I admire you. There’s nothing easy about being the opinions editor, because you have to let everyone know how it really is. I can only dream of being as smart, poised and confident as you are, and I can’t think of a better way than to close out my time at The Hatchet with you at Hatchet Prom.
Nora: I said it during my hotseat, but you really do light up my world. There’s been countless number of days that I’m down and out, but just being you around you turns that all around. I’m glad me driving you off a tiny ledge didn’t drive a wedge in our friendship, but only gave you fodder to make fun of me. I’ve also been incredibly proud to work alongside you on the court. I’ll be hard-pressed to ever work with someone as fearless and as smart as you ever again.
RSG: Thank you for always being there for me. Through my highs and lows, you were always there when I needed to spill my heart out about something dumb on the long walk back from some party. You are simply an incredible person I’ve been blessed to know, and there has never been another person on this staff who has shown me as much genuine kindness as you have. Live that slug live forever.
Colleen: Well it looks like we made it, huh? Thank you for letting me take this wild adventure with you. You said that I’ve always been there for you, but it’s really been the other way around – you’ve always been there for me. I’m loud, whiny and angry a lot of the time, but you still put up with all my quirks and let me help you build the institution I love. From the day we joined staff, I knew you would be the one running the show one day because I knew you’d be the best at it – and I am so incredibly happy to say that I was so right. I’m convinced that nobody could’ve handled everything that happened this year – nobody but you. I’m so happy I have a lifelong friend as we both get ready for the next steps in our lives.
Bri: There’s no way in hell that I forgot about you, right? I have written and deleted what I wanted to write to you about 15 times now because I just don’t know what to say. Truly, I can’t write anything here that fits, because there isn’t enough words on this planet to sum up what you mean to me. The Hatchet has given me a lot of important things for sure. But by far, the absolute most important thing it has given me is you. You’re my best friend, and everything else The Hatchet has given me doesn’t even come close to adding up to a day with you. The best memories on The Hatchet that I have isn’t a particular one, because it is just about every single second I’ve spent with you. Whether it’s carrying you down a boardwalk in Ocean City or curling up and watching Game of Thrones with you, there’s not a moment that goes by that I would ever take back. Not a day that goes by where I don’t think about how lucky I am to have you in my life, and I don’t want to imagine it any other way.