Renee Pineda: We’re in the endgame now


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

I have lived an extremely fortunate life so far. I have a loving family who has been able to provide me with everything that I have ever needed, and I’ve been able to take advantage of opportunities – like leaving my home state for a private university – that aren’t available to as many people as they should be.

Both of my parents sacrificed a lot for me to be here. They immigrated from the Philippines to the United States – like most immigrants – for better opportunities for themselves and their future family. They’ve worked hard to make going to a college like GW a reality instead of a far-fetched dream, and I can’t thank them enough for that.

But one thing that my parents’ sacrifice didn’t prepare me for was the culture that I found at GW. While I have made some lifelong friends that have made my college experience worthwhile, it didn’t dawn on me until my freshman year that some people don’t have to work that hard for the things they want in life.

And that blows. It sucks that students, particularly students from low-income families or students of color, find themselves working twice as hard for half of the credit that they should be getting. It infuriates me on a day-to-day basis that there can be such a difference in quality of life between students who attend the same school and even live in the same residence hall. But all of the things that infuriate me are important, and if I have a message for anyone, it is that it is OK to be angry.

OK, no, don’t be angry at the little things or at your own personal life. But if something is making you angry, you should be fighting for it to change. And maybe “angry” isn’t the right word for everyone. It could be interpreted as a passion or a drive to fix something that is wrong or broken. Do something about it.

Even with all of the sacrifices that people have made for me, I know that at the end of the day, it’s not their sacrifices that will push me toward my goal. It will always be myself and the actions that I take. Don’t let anyone make decisions for you and don’t become complacent with what life has in store for you.

And while it is easy for me to get lost in daydreams of what my life would have been like if I chose to attend another university or if I stayed home in Nebraska, I know that the choices I have made here have positively shaped who I am. The first student organization that I joined at GW was the Philippine Cultural Society. It is where I began to learn about my community and how I could be more in touch with a culture that seemed foreign to me. I knew no one when I accepted my offer from GW, but the PCS pamilya welcomed me with open arms.

But where I learned to strengthen my voice was The Hatchet. When I left home for D.C., I had hoped that there would be an outlet for me to express the opinions that I felt so strongly about. And while I didn’t join The Hatchet until the spring semester of my sophomore year, it has fundamentally improved the skillset I have and introduced me to some of the most talented and hardworking people that I know.

But when I first joined The Hatchet, I wasn’t super proud of it. It didn’t seem like a lot of students on campus appreciated the work that our staff and writers did and for the first couple of months, I didn’t point out to my friends or classmates that I wrote for the newspaper when the topic came up. I would let my friends and classmates bash on the work that I did or my friends did without any rebuttal from myself. And I regret that.

But then I started growing into my own as a writer – and then a columnist – and I realized what too many students on campus don’t acknowledge: There’s a lot of infuriating issues that we let slide by. And, unfortunately, the Student Association, student organizations and The Hatchet seem to be the only ones doing anything to bring attention or change to these issues. And I can only hope that this changes in the years after I graduate.

Leaving GW after four years is something that I both enjoy and dread. I would love to be finished with my classes and be able to enjoy the District in all of its glory, but fully embracing the adult world is something I don’t think I’ll ever be ready for.

May my compassion, drive and anger take me all the way.


Mom and Dad: Thank you for all your support from afar. I know that living so far away from home wasn’t necessarily ideal but it is a choice that I don’t regret. Thank you for all that you have done to make my experience a reality and for encouraging me in all of my endeavors. I can’t wait to see you all again. I love you, guys. Make sure to give Spencer a kiss for me every now and then.

Izzy: You’ve been working so hard, kiddo. Please remember to give yourself a break and to not stress about the little stuff. College is going to be so much fun for you because you are so much cooler than me, but please don’t forget to keep your head on your shoulders. Make good decisions and take care of yourself first and always. You got this.

Alec: Where do I start? Thank you for being my support system for the past three years and five months. Thank you for always being there so I could rant to you about anything and everything but especially the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Thank you for being kind to me when you realized my possibly irrational fear of anything that slightly resembles a creepy crawler. Thank you for your willingness to drop anything in order to help me. Thank you for teaching me all of the intricacies of the beautiful sport that is ice hockey. Thank you for Hawai’i. Thank you for New Jersey. Thank you for New York. And thank you for Las Vegas (and no, thank you for your “lone wolf” speech). You are one of the kindest people I have ever met and you make the hard work that I take on bearable. Mahal kita, Alec Joseph.

Liz: First and foremost, thank you for your patience and your unwavering ability to help me shape columns and essays into strong articles at the end of the day. I can’t possibly convey with enough gusto of how strong of an editor in chief you have been. Thank you for helping me with the emergency staff editorials we had and for being honest about the validity of pitches that I may have wanted but wouldn’t have panned out. This paper wouldn’t be where it is now without you and I am so fortunate to have been able to work alongside you for Vol. 115.

Kiran: Aside from you waking up on time, I have never really worried about you and the section that I would leave behind once you become editor. You are a strong writer and you shouldn’t doubt yourself as much as you do – or at least as much as I hear you do. I’m proud of how much you’ve matured since April of last year and I am so excited to see the direction that you take ops. So long as you never write a staff ed on the elimination of SEAS, you’ll be fine.

Sarah: I am so very excited to see you come into the role of editor in chief. I know how much you care for this paper and I hope that Vol. 116 will be full of great content, especially ops. I am confident in the direction that you are going to take this paper, and I know that you have the drive to make your staff not only proud of the work that they create but realize the privilege they have to be on your volume. Good luck!

Portrait by Jekko Syquia

Stephanie: Let’s be honest, I’ve started making all those weird “merp” noises because of living with you. Thank you for being my confidante and for essentially being my first friend at GW (just ignore, Alec). Being friends with you and sharing so many experiences (read: karaoke nights, cat cafes, D6 semi and carrying PCS on our shoulders) has created a bond that I hope lasts much longer than the almost four years that we have known each other. You already know all of the things that I think about you, because some emails actually aren’t confidential, but I hope you know how much I appreciate you. Thanks for letting me jump in your bed at like 9 a.m. on a Saturday, Mung Bean.

Julie: My first memory of us is when we were attempting to drop a raw egg off of a balcony without cracking it with only newspaper, tape and straws to slow the fall. After we successfully dropped the egg without a crack, I’m pretty sure you told me, “Oh, I’m an engineering student.” From that moment during freshman year to now, you have continued to impress and amaze me with your many skills and talents. Whether it is sewing, singing, cooking, baking, coding, dancing or just being a good friend, you knock it out of the park. I can only dream of being as good of a princess as you for culture show. Thank you, red fruit punch garbage.

Alexis: I haven’t seen you in a hot second, but I know you’re killing it. Thanks for being the most casual – and fashionable – of friends and not ever being afraid to be the giver of hot takes. One day, I hope to be able to prioritize myself and take care of myself at the level that you do. Thank you, wifey.

Grant: Even though no one ever seems to know where you are or what you are doing on a day-to-day basis, becoming friends with you has been a highlight of my time here. I am glad that you came over to the PCS table two years ago, which resulted in what was undoubtedly the best D6 semi and balloon arch theft ever. Thank you for letting me hang out in District so often last year and for changing the way I make scrambled eggs forever. As we get closer and closer to graduation, I hope that the sini-gang can have a few more “Tom Cruise is The Last Samurai” moments before we all head out. Thanks, poppa grant.

Patrick: We’ve missed you so much since you moved back to California and I hope you know that you are 100 percent the glue that keeps all of the sini-gang together. You’ve missed some pretty wild PCS moments since you’ve been gone but I am so glad that we were able to catch up in Las Vegas. Thank you for letting Alec and I crash at probably the most beautiful hotel room in the world. Thank you for letting me introduce you and Pamela to Jollibee – even though I realized far too late that she wouldn’t be able to actually eat anything. Thank you for watching Marvel movies with me even though you probably had better ways to spend your time. And finally, thank you for allowing me to give you a pretty great man-bun in some real messy moments. Can’t wait to see you at graduation, ibon.

PCS E-Board: It has been a real joy being part of and leading such a fun-spirited and dynamic executive board. I’ve spent each year at GW on e-board for PCS and I am proud to say that this year’s e-board has been a large source of my energy and happiness. Keep doing what you’re doing and PCS will be here for another 30 years, don’t you worry. While I could easily write paragraphs on how much I appreciate all 14 of you, I will save those words for the near future. Thank you.

Editorial Board: Aside from producing some really strong and stellar staff editorials, I am glad that I have gotten to form real friendships with all of you. Matt, thank you for all of your insight and for your unwavering commitment to bettering GW through pen and paper. Zach, while you didn’t speak out so often during our meetings, whenever you did it was always to tell us about a perspective that we hadn’t considered, and that has always made our work stronger. Elise, thank you for being our data expert and for making us all re-evaluate how much sleep we all get. Barbara, dear, you have kept it real in our meetings and I can’t say enough about how much I deeply admire all the work that you’ve done in your section. You stun me, girly. Lindsay, your surprise entrance to the editorial board is one that I have thoroughly enjoyed. In our meetings, you’ve done your best to make sure that we remain aware of the needs and wants of the communities that make up our student body. Thank you all for your hard work, patience and dealing with all of my ramblings.

Portrait by Jeanne Franchesca Dela Cruz

Cheska and Jekko: I say this – or write this – without any exaggeration: You two are some of the most talented people that I’ve met. Your dedication to your craft and your patience with Kiran and I has made the opinions section stronger and more beautiful. Both of you are so kind, and the fact that you are willing to share your talent and time with The Hatchet is something I will forever appreciate. Thank you for filling the opinions section with pinoy pride.

Melissa: When I joined the opinions section, I had no idea that I would eventually find myself with the title of opinions editor. I want to thank you for being the first person to help me find my voice and for planting the idea of the power of an informed opinion in my head. I’m proud to have followed in your steps. Congratulations to you and Gary, you two are very blessed.

Irene: Even though you’ve been away from GW for almost a year now, you’ve never felt far away. I am so fortunate that I not only worked so well with you but that we got to become such close friends. Whether we are complaining about Scarlett Johansson, crying over Celeste Ng’s work or idolizing over the proud Asian-American woman that is John Mulaney, you’ve been by my side. Thank you for being there when I need to rant about the bureaucratic beast that is GW or about Kiran not being awake when I needed him to be. I’m so proud of what you’ve done so far at law school at American University – even though you picked American University – and I’m excited to hear about all the things you do next. I’ll see you at our next happy hour meetup.

Cayla: All of the credit that the news section and the rest of the staff gives you is not enough to properly convey all of the work that you have put into this paper. The opinions section does not exist without the news section, and I can’t tell you how much your hard work has contributed to the great content that the ops section has put out. Additionally, I wish we could have gone to more hockey games together because your commentary – which essentially is a whole bunch of “What was that?” – is sorely needed.

Parth: With the late hours that we all put into the paper, you provide a lot of necessary levity that – even though I hate to admit it – I enjoy. Thank you for the Asian solidarity and for the hilarious and wildly inaccurate things that you’ve said that would probably be called extremely inappropriate without the proper context. Keep up the good work, non-immigrant.

Nia: You brighten every room you enter, girly. Thank you for being a source of light in and out of the townhouse and for all the work you put into making this paper so strong.

Monica: Even though we haven’t been able to see each other as often as we’d like, I’m glad that we remained so close as we both left Nebraska for the East Coast. While we don’t talk on a daily basis, just know that I am so proud of the person that you have become. I can’t help but brag about you to my family, friends and any strangers that I meet. You’re going to go so far. Love you, girly.

Maddy: Leaving Nebraska wasn’t the hardest thing in the world. But knowing that I wouldn’t be able to see you or Monica for a while was difficult to stomach. But even with more than 1,000 miles and a time zone between us, our friendship has remained strong. Despite the struggles that we’ve gone through, both together and apart, I know our relationship will stay strong. I hope you are doing well and I hope to see you soon.

Jude: Since my freshman year in PCS, I privately decided that I wanted to become president of PCS someday. And all of the important decisions that I have made for PCS has started with the question, “What would Jude Tungul do?” Even from afar, you have inspired me to be a better student leader and Filipino-American advocate. I’m excited to see you this month and I hope that I’ve made you proud.

Angela: When you come up into conversations with the younger students who didn’t have the fortune of meeting of you, I feel a little sad that they can only know about you through the memories of seniors and juniors. But I hope you know that your levels of kindness and generosity are what I hope to emulate one day. I hope you are doing well in the Philippines. You will always be the best “Mom” in PCS.


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