Liz Konneker: Fighting for the blogs and the bees

Media Credit: Madeleine Cook | Staff Photographer

When I first joined the Hatchet as a freshman, I wasn’t 100 percent sure where the townhouse was.

I mean, I sort of knew where it was. There was a sign out front and that really helped point me in the right direction. But when I went to my first meeting I had to make a critical decision: was I supposed to go into the dark red townhouse, or the other dark red townhouse? Who knows where I would be today if I had chosen wrong. All I know is that I’m so grateful for the opportunities and friendships that came from choosing right.

From my very first story I learned more about journalism than a classroom could ever teach me. The Hatchet considers itself a teaching institution, but I was never prepared for the onslaught of information about recording calls, taking vigorous notes, and writing an unbiased story just as engaging as an impassioned ops piece. Through it all I emerged a better writer, a better teacher, and – as I’m sure my friends who ever asked me to transcribe can attest – a faster typer than is humanly necessary.

There were ups and downs. I watched some of my best friends become overwhelmed by the workload of being an editor or the growing pains that only college can bring out of you. But through it all, I grew closer to a group of amazing women than I ever thought possible. The people that I worked with inspired me, changed me, and led me to believe that anything you put your mind to can be achieved with a lot of hard work and even more late-night Starbucks runs. They’re the people I’ll miss the most as I step back from a position that gave me so much personal fulfilment through my years as an undergraduate.

To those considering writing more for the Hatchet or joining the Hatchet at all: do it. Write tons of blogs. Meet the same crazy people that inspired me to be the best version of myself that I possibly could have. Your GPA will do some sliding around, but it will all be worth it in the end. You’ll be able to step back from your time at GW and look at your contributions to a paper that is old and ever-changing.

Besides thanking the important people in my life, the most rewarding part of writing this piece is being able to put the commas wherever I want. So, here, we, go:

Madeleine Cook | Staff Photographer

Cayla: You can’t be described in a paragraph, as most of our conversations consist of those weird nonverbal things you do. One thing can be said about you – you never quit. You work tirelessly and ferociously to turn out incredible work. Whenever I wanted to figure out how to write the perfect lede or couldn’t come up with a good transition for whatever article I was writing, I would always look to your work to see how a professional would do it. I know you’ll be an amazing SNE. I can already tell that you’re bringing so much grit and compassion to the role. Please don’t forget about us little people when you are a famous journalist traveling the world and kicking everyone’s ass.

Meredith: You always say I’m the only one who laughs at your jokes, but that’s because you’re just so funny! My favorite thing about you is your ability to be so unapologetically authentic, whether you’re dancing on tables or crawling around on the floor in your yellow jacket. You have an easy spirit that makes you incredibly unique and special. I don’t think I’ll ever meet another person like you and I’ll miss your humor every day. Thank you for being a bright light in some of the townhouse’s darkest corners. Also, thank you for being really good at going through 990 forms and holding administrators accountable!

Elise: From the moment we ordered a Whole Foods pizza and I scammed $20 from you, I knew we would be friends for a long time. I remember long nights going to Captain Cookie and sharing Hatchet gossip, or going over to your house to hang out with your amazing family. I’m grateful every day that I met you and that we’re living together next year. You are my best friend, often my rock, and always the person I turn to when I feel like I can’t turn to anyone else. Whether you’re abroad or right in front of my face or just too tired to leave E St., I know you’re there for me every step of the way. Also, I want a blue couch for the apartment. It’s in writing now so the idea has become real.

Leah: I’ve never met someone as kind or as easy-going as you are. You are the perfect example of how a person should conduct themselves both professionally and personally, and I feel honored to consider you one of my closest friends. I’ll remember all of those dinners over at your affinity or the times we would sit and watch “Project Runway” as being some of the most stress-free moments of my college years. There were times where I was overwhelmed and you just knew exactly what to do. I’ll never forget that and I hope we stay friends for a long time. Thank you for being everything that you are.

Justine: You were a mentor to me in my early days as an editor, always reminding me that it was okay to take care of myself or to ask for help. Even now I love the class we have together and the memories of Paris we share. You are kind, incredibly organized, and the perfect example of how a person should stand up for themselves. I learned so much just from watching how you conducted yourself this past year, and I admire you every day. You’re an incredible person, friend, and advisor to me when I ever need a listening ear. Soon our class time together will come to an end, but our friendship never will!

Andrew: There is so much I’d love to say about you, but then the formatting of this 30 would be all weird. I have the utmost respect for you as my senior news editor, and even more so as an incredibly talented writer and journalist. You were always calm, patient, stern when you needed to be, but never unfair. There are so many of your qualities that I hope to adopt when I am in more leadership roles of my own. Thank you for teaching me how to write, how to be a journalist, and how to be a professional. You kept me to my deadlines while also being fair and empathetic. I hope you’re proud of everything you’ve done this year, because I’m incredibly proud to have worked with you – and even to have made you laugh from time to time!

Yonah: I had so much fun arguing with you over my terrible graphic ideas and going back and forth over which shade of blue we should use in the color scheme. In all seriousness, you are someone whose opinion I have always valued and whose work I have always respected. I remember listening to They Might be Giants in the newsroom with you, and our townhouse-gossip sessions were always the best! Thank you for brightening up my Sundays and always taking the time to share your ideas of how to make this paper a better place.

Parth: I always knew when I looked into the night sky that there was someone out there who loved blogs just as much as I do! That person is you and I couldn’t be happier that you are taking over a role that meant so much to me in my last months as an editor. I remember when I was the section editor for academics and your first assignment ever was to go to Old Maine and get interviews of the few members of staff that were still roaming the halls. I was sitting at work and listening to the interviews you sent me, knowing instantly that you had so much talent and potential. I know you’re coming into this role with so many great ideas and ways to make events on campus another source for important dialogue and discussion. I hope the people and the ideas that continue to come to GW motivate you, inspire you, and further improve your writing just as they did for me. I’ve also set the bar for best email subject lines, so get ready to work!

Madeleine Cook | Staff Photographer

Lauren: From our first meeting together I could tell that you were full of ambition and good ideas. I’m so excited that you’re going on to fill Elise and my shoes as Academics editor, and know that the work you do will bring so much to that section. You are kind, diligent in your work, and always bringing more to a story through your own fantastic writing. Even if you find the position overwhelming at times, just know you can always turn to me and I’ll be around to help you! You’re going to have such an incredible year through the Hatchet, and I’m excited to watch how you grow as an editor and as a writer. I’m so glad you ended up in my section and that I’ve been able to watch you grow!

Maddy: You are talented, kind all the way down to your toes, incredible, inspirational, and take photos that are absolutely beyond belief. We may have first bonded over hanging out with HIV-positive cats (Corey!) and rolling down sand dunes in Utah, but our friendship now goes so far beyond that. When I look back on my college career I’ll forever be reminded of all the times we laughed together, fell asleep watching movies, and cried a little over cupcakes. It’s true that you are destined for an amazing career in photojournalism, but the person you are inside goes so much more beyond that. I’ve loved taking this college journey with you and can’t wait to visit you in Thurston next year!

Annie: You were always so great about taking stories and pursuing leads while I was the academics editor, and your blogs were consistently stellar! You are so hardworking and give so much for this paper, and I’ll never forget that. I hope that you find a home in Copy and that you continue to find your time at the Hatchet rewarding and fulfilling. We may not have talked every day, but I’ll miss your smile and your little quirks.

Sarah Roach: Where did you come from! From day one you showed up and were ready to work and to learn. Every blog you turned in for me was incredible, and every story you turned in for team news got better and better. Now you’re on an incredible path of accomplishment in journalism, and I so much loved seeing your aspirations become a reality. Don’t forget to take care of yourself along the way, but also don’t ever lose the fire and the drive that motivates you to be your absolute best.

Dani: You slowly became my only tie to the outside world as I became more and more wrapped up in the Hatchet and less wrapped up in music or theatre. I’m so glad you could balance it all! You are so talented and I was always impressed by your ability to step up to the plate whenever it was necessary. Even as an editor you’re still transcribing, teaching, and helping. You are everything the paper could need and I hope you continue to be ambitious as you spend more and more time at this institution we all call home.

Mom, Dad, Katie and Olivia: When there were days where I had time for absolutely nothing else, the only thing I would want to do is Skype you all and say hello! No one else has supported me more or given me so much love and space to grow into the person I am today. It’s because of you guys that I have so many cat pictures on my phone, so much passing knowledge of airplane mechanics, and so many words of wisdom that I now shamelessly pass off as my own to my friends. Even though we are separated by a six hour drive, I always know that home is just a phone call away – day or night. I have a sister who never judges me for liking nerdy things, a dad who would help me with anything, and a mom who I can constantly look to when I think of what kind of mom I would like to be someday. When it comes to family, there is absolutely no one luckier than me. I can’t tell you in just these few sentences how much I love you all and how much I appreciate everything that you have done for me.

Reporters:My interactions with the rest of the news team was hands down my favorite part of the job. There was nothing more rewarding than watching you all grow in your writing and develop your skills in reporting one story at a time. Even if I didn’t mention you specifically, if you ever took a story or a blog for me I have nothing but positive memories of collaborating with you and seeing how hard you would work to create something you could absolutely be proud of. I was always inspired by your ability to tell me and your peers an engaging story, and I tried my best to keep your voice in mind even through the crazy editing process. The Hatchet is hard work, but all of you are capable of reaching any position you can dream of and I am so excited to see how far you can go.

Other Staff: Even if you didn’t get a shout out, that doesn’t change the fact that you are all incredible workers full of original ideas that lead to the amazing content this paper generates every week. I’ll miss your humor, your laughter, your inside jokes, and even your drama. I can’t wait to see what Vol. 115 has in store, and I know I’ll continue to be proud of the work you all do long after I graduate.

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