Elise Zaidi: A fellowship of my own

Media Credit: Olivia Anderson | Photo Editor

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 applied to The Hatchet on a whim. I had no intention of becoming a journalist, I was just a little freshman who liked to write.

There were about 50 new reporters in the room at my first meeting, including many hopeful journalism students. It was overwhelming and at the end of the meeting, my editor asked us if there were any questions.

I raised my hand and said, “How do I get on staff?”

The room was silent and other freshmen were staring at me like I was a crazy person. I’m not sure exactly what my editor said – I think she laughed and told me to start by writing a story. I don’t know why I already felt so certain about joining The Hatchet at that first meeting. The people, the townhouse, the paper itself – it just gave me a feeling.

I took every story and blog I could, and by the start of my sophomore year, I was a news editor. I had never taken a journalism class and didn’t know what WordPress was, but I still felt what I felt at that first meeting: This is where I wanted to be and I could figure it out as I went.

I have learned more being on this staff than I have in any classroom. My first article ever was a restaurant review with no quotes – I was too nervous to interview anyone who worked there. Now I can comfortably interview four people at once and edit five articles in one evening. This job has pushed me out of my corner in the library to cover everything from environmental protests to a presidential inauguration. It has given me the chance to speak to fascinating people I would otherwise never have met. I am a stronger writer – and a more confident person – because of the opportunities this paper has given me.

Don’t get me wrong, the job can be hellish. I’ve cried, lost sleep and been yelled at by more than one angry student or administrator. I’ve missed family dinners and stayed inside writing on a Friday night while my friends went out. Being on staff is a trial by fire – you have to keep adapting and working every day, seven days a week. But for 115 years, generations of students on staff at The Hatchet have muddled through these challenges because they had the same mysterious feeling that I had on day one.

The staff of The Hatchet isn’t paid, we are here because we care about the work, holding the University accountable and contributing to something bigger than ourselves. That passion and purpose is infectious and it kept me – and many others before me – coming back.

Considering that The Hatchet has been around for more than a century, my four years don’t seem all that impressive. Every year, I have been blown away by the new talent coming in to take on the mantle of informing and representing our community. I am so excited to see what the next volume produces and I am proud to have been a part of it.

Goodbyes are hard, and I’m struggling to write mine. So I guess I’ll end with this: The paper is its people. I have met some of my best friends here. Our staff is made up of some of the most passionate, hardworking people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Thank you all for embracing me and letting me be part of this weird, wonderful team. Here’s to all of you.

Olivia Anderson | Photo Editor

Liz Provencher: Freshman year, we went to prom together. Fast forward to senior year, when we were stuck in your office stuffing name tags for the conference. I was so nervous when you had to take over moderating the panel at two minutes notice, but you did such a good job keeping the whole thing afloat. When I hear about the amount of criticism you have to deal with on a daily – sometimes hourly – basis, I get vicarious anxiety. I am in awe of your perseverance and how, despite everything you are juggling, you remain a fun and funny person to be around. You had the hardest job on this paper and you were great at it.

Jacqueline: To be honest, even though you are not my boss anymore, you still kind of scare me. You were always unrelenting about the quality of the paper, and while it made me a ball of tension at times, the content was better for it. When I joined the news team, I had never even taken a journalism class. Once I did, I realized how much you taught me about writing, reporting and editing. I learned more sitting next to you and watching you edit on Sunday nights than I did in any classroom. You weren’t always the easiest boss, but you were (and are) wildly talented, and I consider myself lucky to have worked with you.

Andrew: You and I were both student life editors, went to London the fall of our junior years and then came back to The Hatchet (basically, I’ve just been copying you). We spoke over the phone while you were abroad, but the first time we ever really hung out was in the newsroom while everyone else was at a Board of Trustees meeting. This was the first of many long conversations about our lives and the adventures we want to have. You encouraged me to go abroad and took the time to sit in the library with my anxious self, helping me get through the applications. Eventually, you were my editor, but before that, you were my friend. Every time I see you, you are kind and awkward and completely yourself, just like that first time I spoke to you. I have missed you in the townhouse this past year, and I hope to see you again soon so we can get back to gossiping about the SA.

Sarah Roach: When I was a junior and you were a freshman, you once came up to me in the Marvin Center in a panic about The Hatchet. We had never really spoken before, but there you were, spilling how anxious you were about not being able to juggle all the things on your plate. We sat together and talked for hours, and I remember thinking that even though you were a freshman and not on staff yet, I didn’t think I had ever met someone who cared about the paper this much. Now you are going to be EIC. You are a great reporter and a great writer, and while nothing can really prepare you for the job you are stepping into, I know you are going to take it in stride. But I’ll repeat what I said then: take breaks, don’t forget to sleep and don’t be so hard on yourself. You can do this.

Cayla: Two years ago, you had only ever written one story when we walked into an interview with five RHA members. The story was complicated, and interviewing five people at once is a nightmare for even the most experienced reporter. But you blew me away. You took charge, sat down in the middle of the room and conducted a one- or two-hour interview. Every follow-up question I wrote down, you asked before I could even mention it. The next morning, you turned in a nearly perfect draft of the story. Over the past two years, you have only gotten better – if that’s even possible. You are a born reporter, a natural interviewer and a gifted leader. I am so, so proud of you and your incredible talent. I am also lucky to call you my friend. You have given me sage advice over the years, and I look forward to many more happy hours together.

Lauren Peller: When I came back from study abroad to take over the academics section, Liz told me you were her ‘star baby.’ Well, you were mine, too. You took the hardest stories and got road-blocked by so many administrators, but you always kept going. There were so many times when I was nervous that you might quit because I was asking too much of you, but you always said you could handle more. You’re blunt and straightforward, which makes you a great reporter that doesn’t back down. You are also kind to your fellow writers and, whenever I couldn’t, were there to help out those who needed it. That instinct is going to serve you well forever, and I can’t wait to see what a killer conference you plan next year.

Dani Grace: You were so intense about being on staff from day one. You had only written a handful of stories when you were asking me about how to become an editor. You once asked me whether you could work on multiple stories at once because you wanted to be doing more. Not going to lie, you kind of scared me (love you). But then the SA drama happened. Those few weeks I was getting almost no sleep, and I remember sitting on the floor of the Marvin Center with you, crying because I couldn’t think straight enough to write a sentence. While I sat there, you grabbed my laptop and finished the story for me. You juggle so many things and always seem to have energy for more. I am so grateful to have had you on my reporter team. I am so proud that you are going to be SNE, and I have absolutely no doubt that you will rise to this challenge, just as you have risen to all the others.

Parth: On my last day of being a news editor, you brought me a sack of potatoes. I really love mashed potatoes, so I teared up. I’m not sure if that was the moment we went from editor-reporter to friends or one of the many other times you showed up for me. When I needed help cleaning the townhouse, you were there. When I needed help with a now infamous cooking lid, you were there. When I need to go for a walk and talk existential problems, you are there. When I need someone to make me laugh, you are there with your weird, dark humor. You’re like a little brother: pretty annoying, but also extremely supportive. I know that I can always turn to you if I need help or even just company to make studying less boring. I love you bro and I am so proud of you for taking on the role of SNE next year. You are going to be amazing, just like you’re amazing at everything you try. And just like you are always there for me, when this job gets crazy, you know you are always welcome at Forrest.

Leah: Faire thee well, madame? Thou art the most – OK, I can’t keep this up. Just imagine this in an old-timey voice. Leah, we first met in a bathroom where you peed in front of me and then told me some explicit, off-the-record information. I remember saying, “Cool, what was your name again?” I had no idea how essential you would end up being to my life. No matter what my day has been like, seeing you dance your way over to me always makes me happy. I love our Jane Eyre debates and period piece marathons. I love our sleepovers and the fact that you (and Parth) have become close with my family. You are the cookie to my Dave the vet. You are one of the most kind-hearted people I have ever met, and I am so grateful to have you as a friend. I couldn’t be happier that you are taking over as MD and moving in next door. I look forward to a lifetime of curtsying with/to you.

Liz (aka frand): We are kind of a package deal. You got me a job at Colonial Connection, I forced you to be a reporter at The Hatchet and now we live together. When I was planning the conference this year, I would come home and complain to you almost every day when little things would go wrong. On the day of the conference, you showed up with a pie and a bouquet of flowers, and afterward, we watched movies together and ate cookie dough. Even though I had been eagerly awaiting the conference for months, hanging out with you was my favorite part of that day. You have often called me your rock, but you are mine too. I can (and do) talk to you about anything because you never fail to give great advice or make me laugh. I love spending thyme with you, I am so grateful to live with you and I feel lucky every day that I get to call you my frand.

Tyler Loveless: Going on our trip is maybe the most spontaneous thing I have ever done. We hadn’t spent much time together, so I was definitely nervous that we wouldn’t get along. But you are pretty damn good company. We disagree about almost everything, but we also both love a good debate. From your love of milk to your silly drunk faces, you are both intentionally and unintentionally hilarious. Thank you for the many great memories, I will cherish them forever and look forward to making more.

Olivia Anderson | Photo Editor

Sera: You were in my first ever Hatchet meeting. It was freshman year and I didn’t really know anyone at GW yet, so I asked you to hang out after the meeting. Little did I know we would both end up being on staff and, beyond that, that you would end up being such a great friend to me. When we first joined the news team, I couldn’t have gotten through it without you there. You are like my kindred spirit – we watch the same shows, like the same foods, read the same books. We are both Type A when it comes to work, and I feel like whatever I tell you, you always know exactly what to say. I am so glad you are staying in D.C. next year and look forward to more of our brunches (even if the waiter won’t believe I’m 21).

Jordan: When I first got to London, I didn’t know anyone other than you, so I decided to message you to hang out. I had only really seen you around the townhouse occasionally and didn’t know what to expect. But you have become one of my closest friends and one of my favorite people to talk to. I love going on mini adventures with you. You are so mellow and down to earth, and I hope some of that calm has rubbed off on me. I still think about our conversation on Westminster Bridge, which is when I knew we would be close for the long haul. I am so proud to know a fancy, big city journalist and can’t wait to visit you soon.

Arianna: I am so glad we had class together this semester because it has given me the chance to get to know you better. You are a talented and eloquent writer. I admire how you don’t shy away from tackling hard, personal subjects – it speaks to who you are as a person. You radiate warmth and I look forward to cheering you on as you become the world’s greatest videographer.

Barb: I will miss sitting across from you in ed board, looking up and having you wink at me over something that was just said (usually by Matt). You have taken on so much work with your section, but it shows in the content you produce. Even though you have so much work on your plate, you never seem to take it out on the people around you. You are such an upbeat, confident person – it’s what makes it so lovely to be around you. Also, thank you for teaching me that bottle trick, I have used it many times to look cooler than I am.

Zach: When we went to Nathan’s birthday party, we ended up going for a walk together, sitting under the clock in Kogan and talking for a long time. Since then, I have had several late-night walk and talks with you, and I have enjoyed every single one. You are laid-back and mellow, but when you feel strongly about something, you know how to speak your mind and prove your point. While we are often on opposite sides of an argument (cough cough ed board), I will miss debating with you. Congratulations on the Peace Corps, I have no doubt that you are going to do great things there. But you better keep giving me your awesome music recommendations, even from abroad.

Editorial Board: I wasn’t sure about being a part of ed board when it was first offered. I am a news girl, and I wasn’t sure I wanted my opinions out in the world, on paper. But I am so glad I said yes. Even though the election hearings went way past my usual bedtime, I had so much fun deliberating and laughing with you all. Renee, you are so calm and articulate, and it amazes me how you are able to glean an argument from our ramblings. Kiran, you (and your Canada Goose) never cease to liven the mood when conversation dies down. I know you are going to continue doing amazing work next year leading the section. Lindsay, I admire your ability to articulate your point, even when the topic is complicated. You are so confident and funny, and I am so glad you joined ed board this year. Matt, you and I came on staff at the same time and I have watched you work so hard for this paper. You always bring new points to the table, and I look forward to seeing whatever you do next.

Meredith: Oh, queen of wild outfits and party mishaps. We all make jokes, but I really do admire your wild side. You are always unapologetically yourself, and I hope some of that attitude has rubbed off on me. I am so excited to be neighbors next year so I can spend more time with you and monitor the crazy things you wear on a daily basis.

Olivia: I get super awkward and tense when someone tries to take a photo of me, but even so, your photos turned out well because of your talent as a photographer. I so admire your passion and dedication to your work, which you have had since I met you freshman year. You are a brilliant photographer, and I look forward to seeing your work proudly displayed all over the place.

Ellie: You were my first editor and hired me to be on your volume when you knew I had no intention of being a journalist. You took a chance on me, and I am very grateful that you did. The Hatchet became my home for four years, so thank you for opening that door to me.

News editors of Vol. 113: I was brought onto the news team over the summer before my sophomore year. I came into the newsroom for our first budgeting meeting with no idea what to do, no editor transition training and no journalism classes under my belt. I was overwhelmed and under-qualified, sitting in the newsroom staring at my computer, not knowing how to write an MR draft. That’s when Avery rolled over and helped me. I wasn’t sure about my pitch ideas, so Lillianna and Robin told me to pitch to them for pointers. I learned how to do this job from all of you, and I am so grateful you were there and accepted me into the team from day one.

Other staff: Even if I didn’t mention you here, you are my favorite group of people on this campus. You are a mind-bogglingly talented bunch. I will miss parties and staff meetings, but I will miss even more stumbling into random basement conversations with almost every person on staff. For those of you who are going on to Vol. 116, I can’t wait to read, watch and listen to whatever you do next.

Malia and Alyssa: I have spent so much time in the last four years talking about the “Blachet,” probably more than I talk about anything else. Thank you both for being so supportive. This year has been big for both of you. Alyssa, congratulations on (soon to be) graduating med school, it’s an incredible achievement and I am so excited to start saying “my sister, the doctor.” Malia, congratulations on publishing your fourth book. I so admire how you have pursued your dream of being a writer, it’s definitely not easy, but your writing is always skillful and charming. Needless to say, I am a proud little sister. In terms of siblings, it would be an understatement to say I lucked out with you two weirdos.

Mom and dad: You are the most important people in the world to me and it is impossible to express that in a few sentences. But here’s my attempt to scratch the surface. Dad, going to India with you was the best trip/experience I have ever had, and watching superhero movies with you is something I always look forward to. When I come to you with a problem, you always give it careful thought and attention and come back with ideas and solutions. You show that you care through action, and I love to pick your brain about anything and everything. Mom, you are my confidant. When something is stressing me out (often Hatchet related), I feel instantly better after confiding in you. I hope you feel the same. You are the most compassionate mother a daughter could ever ask for and I cherish getting to spend time with you, whether it be afternoon tea or just hanging out in my room. Thank you both for all of your support, I am endlessly grateful.


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