Olivia Anderson: Falling into it

Media Credit: Donna Armstrong | Contributing 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 was more than a little nervous when I stepped into my one-on-one meeting with my RA freshman year. I had just settled into Hensley Hall on the Vern, and although I liked my new roommate and had already made friends with my suitemate, I was nervous about finding my place. I was so overwhelmed thinking about the possibility of being lonely that I was shaking as my RA asked about my interests and plan for my first semester. I was pessimistic but he pushed on, looking for something to work with. When I mentioned photography, Aaron cut me off — “That’s what you should do! Join The Hatchet!”

This was the first time I had ever thought about this possibility. I knew about The Hatchet prior to coming to GW, but I never imagined that I could be a part of such a serious student paper. I can’t remember if I said it, but I know I thought it: “I’m just not sure I’ll be good enough.” My self-doubt nearly led me to make the biggest misstep of my college career. I didn’t submit an application because I was scared. But I turned my fate around by accompanying a friend to The Hatchet’s new photographer meeting. Sitting in the tiny desks in Funger Hall, I looked around and saw so many serious-looking people. As the meeting began wrapping up, I became more and more nervous to talk to the photo editor and ask if I would be allowed to keep coming back. I was delighted when she said yes.

My RA had pointed me in the right direction and by the end of that meeting, Katie Causey had pulled me in. From there, I kept falling into The Hatchet. I took assignment after assignment freshman year. I was taking portrait after portrait, building shots, protests — anything. Whenever I missed dinner at Pelham or hangouts in the Hensley basement, my friend Edgar would say, “She’s got official Hatchet biz.”

By the end of freshman year, “official Hatchet biz” became even more official as I earned a spot as the contributing photo editor. I had interviewed for the position but never imagined that I would get it. I felt myself falling in further, and I couldn’t have been happier.

Three years after I picked up a call from Dan Rich telling me I would be on staff, I sat down to write this 30. As I was typing away, I realized that my origin story is steeped in my once characteristic self-doubt. I fell into this place — and, along with it, the best four years of my life, thanks to the help and encouragement of a lot of great people. But The GW Hatchet has made me realize I can’t just fall into things anymore. With everything I’ve learned here and all the people who helped me to see that I am worthy, I am confident now. I emerged from The Hatchet basement changed for the better. Because of my time at The Hatchet, I know that I will step, not fall, into the next chapters of my life (mostly) unafraid.

Donna Armstrong | Contributing Photo Editor

Much love to…

Donna: You are my news queen. You had some big shoes to fill, and I was so nervous to have a sophomore on the news photo beat, but you took it in stride. You are a creative and talented photographer who has become such a strong leader over the course of the year. You have gained such an immense knowledge of who’s who at this university. But more importantly, you are a fantastic team member who never lets your fellow editors down. With your caring heart, you always look out for us. Even beyond that, you are such a fun person. I love hearing you randomly giggle aloud at funny texts and I always enjoyed breaking up a stressful workday by playing “Careless Whisper” too loud with you (much to Graeme’s chagrin). You are someone that I will always be rooting for because I know you have so much talent and so much light to give to the world.

Graeme: In all honesty, when we brought you on staff and I still didn’t quite know you yet, you were a quiet grad student and I wasn’t sure if you liked me or hated me. But as you stepped into the role of culture photo editor, I not only saw how creative and passionate you are but also how vibrant and fun. You are the person who can always make a boring building photo look cool and a person who can be counted on to be there for the team. You are also so genuinely interesting, knowledgeable about things both random and useful, and always looking to learn. In addition to keeping an eye out for the great things you do with your life, I will continue to look forward to more pictures of dropped things on your Instagram story. At the end of this wild year, I’m so glad that I can count you as a friend. P.S. bring back cloud.sta.graeme.

Sam Hardgrove: When I was first hired, I was so nervous to meet the elusive Sam Hardgrove, who I had heard about so much but had only seen on the wall of Snapchats. I was worried you wouldn’t like me or accept me as part of the team. Those fears couldn’t have been more unfounded. You quickly became my friend and helped me to be more confident in myself. You were always there giving me reassurance when self-doubt was getting the best of me. When I became the photo editor my junior year, you were there to support me and back me up 100 percent of the time. That didn’t mean you never challenged me though. You were always there, asking questions about my decisions, which just made me stronger. You are perhaps the most natural born leader I have ever encountered, but you would never let it get to your head. You are such an incredibly bright light and a genuinely kind, funny person. I have missed having you around to brighten the townhouse basement with your antics, but I suppose asking you to stay a sixth year would’ve been a bit much. It always makes me smile to see you doing so well in Japan.

The next team photo: I am so excited to see what you all will do next year! Each of you individually brings something to the table. Arielle, you are so technically competent, creative, hardworking and kind. You are so creative and have a great eye. I can’t wait to see you fill the sports beat and learn the ins and outs of the role. I’m glad you’ll be in the basement continuing photo’s tradition of filling the room with a steady stream of quality music. Sarah U, you are talented and thoughtful, I know that you will enjoy the culture beat and be a huge asset to the team. Alexander, you are our quiet force. With your cool and collected demeanor, I know that you will step up and take on this role well. Jack Fonseca, with a leader’s spirit and a team mentality, I know you will be exactly the utility player that photo needs.

To past photo editors: Dan, Desiree and Katie – you were all so instrumental to my success here. Each of you gave me a big assignment that made me feel like you trusted me and gave me so much advice and support along the way. Without your kindness and openness to me, I know that I wouldn’t be sitting here now writing this 30. Des: I remember when you gave me the opportunity to shoot D.C. fashion week. I was sitting in the Hensley Hall basement hanging out with friends and I remember telling them and feeling so cool. As I prepared to apply, I met with you a lot and you put a lot of my fears about the interview process to rest. Katie: I remember telling my friends how excited I was that you two thought I was good enough to take a portrait of Peter K. You are such a tough lady but you took the time to look after your photographers. Dan: One of my strongest memories of my early days on staff is of you and I leaving the townhouse and you turning to me and saying: “We’re going to make this year great.” I felt so much excitement and optimism in that moment. Two years after you passed the section off to me, I hope that I have made you proud.

Keegan: Such a photo star! You have always been there with us to help us during busy weeks and with breaking news. You were always there to hang out with us during office hours which was such a blessing, even if you were just procrastinating on doing your school work. I continue to enjoy intermittent Snapchats from you featuring small animals and Wisconsin life.

Liz: I don’t know exactly when I started to really get to know you but I am so glad that I did. I was excited to hear you were running for EIC, and you have done such a great job in the role. Of course it has been stressful, but you have handled it with grace and immense emotional maturity. An EIC must be the final word and that doesn’t always make them the most popular. But I found that you refused to let the role make you forget the fun-loving bubbly person that you are. You are the same great Liz who entered the role nearly one year ago, only stronger. That is no small feat. Thank you for being a friend to me, accepting me for all that I am and supporting me. I will miss breaking into the EIC office to distract you during random weekdays. You are the subject of many of my most fond Hatchet memories, and I am so grateful for that. I cannot wait to see you take on the world.

Babs: You are the person who made me most excited to take on the sports photo beat. Seeing your passion for sports made me excited to learn about all of them as best I could. Your passion also pushed me harder because I wanted to do justice to you and your section by giving you a steady stream of good photos. Not only are you a great sports editor, but you are also one of the sweetest, bubbliest people I have ever met. Whenever I feel like a dark cloud (it happens) you are always there smiling and making me realize that I should too. I appreciate when you’re there to awkwardly put a hand on my head when I need it most. I will never have a better road trip crew than Barbie Girl and KerrBear (that is the cheesiest thing I will ever say and it’s all for you).

Kerri: Another smiling sun! I always knew you were a cool and sweet girl but I didn’t know just how cool and sweet until basketball season started. Being stuck in a car for hours with two other people could have gone so poorly, but I ended up enjoying it so much. Those trips are such happy memories, discounting the time I couldn’t parallel park and almost assaulted a mean taxi driver. I enjoyed sharing my uncharacteristic love of country music with you and playing a little too much Dolly Parton on our way through Bumblefuck, Va. I’m a little sad that I could never share the joy of Cheerwine with you (you’re loosing clout drive-thru Cookout) but the memories make up for it.

Arianna: You are such an amazing video editor and podcast producer. Seeing how Danny, Dante and Jacob have all been so excited to be involved is a testament to your strong leadership. It is amazing to see all you have taken on and how driven you are to learn and better yourself. I genuinely enjoy talking to you. You have always been a bright presence in the dingy basement, and it is truly appreciated.

Matt: The enigmatic Matt Cullen. When I first met you, I didn’t really know what to think about you. Now after years of being your peer, I understand that you are a person with many layers who is caring and very dedicated to your work. You may still be a bit of a mystery to me, but now I know you’re a cool, kind and dedicated mystery person — and I’m satisfied with that. I really enjoyed our games of guess that athlete in goggles to distract me from Sunday stress this year, and I hope you did too.

Cayla: You are such a strong-willed individual and a force in the newsroom. You have given so much to make this paper great. It is unbelievable how much you seem to find balance, even with so much on your plate. Thank you for keeping the lost art of phone pranks alive and being the one to consistently laugh at my often lackluster jokes.

Sarah Roach: Sweet Sarah. You are so kind and genuine. People undervalue those two characteristics sometimes, but don’t let anyone tell you they aren’t worth something. I think that those two things are what make you so very respectable. You bring so much happiness into the lives of the people you interact with, and there is nothing more important in this world than people who lift others up. Your openness to others and your determination are what will make you an amazing EIC. I can’t wait to see what you will do.

Ellie: My OG EIC. You combine genuine compassion with such strength. You made me feel welcome on The Hatchet from the start. I always looked forward to sitting in on budgeting meetings because you made me feel like my ideas were worthwhile. Thank you for starting me off on a good foot.

Emily R: You never fail to amaze me with your creativity and intelligence. I will never stop being interested by your opinions on typefaces, colors and culinary categorization. You have impeccable taste and such a strong will. Thank you for fielding my questions about the wild world that is Corcoran design.

Olivia D: You are such a sweet person who is always looking out for others — on team design and beyond. You are hardworking and always looking to improve yourself. I know that with your maturity and creativity, you will be able to lead team design with grace.

Lindsay: You are so funny, creative and confident in yourself. Seeing how comfortable you are in your skin inspires me to love myself more. Your creativity means that have one of the most enviable social feeds I’ve seen. Keep up with the photography — your food pics are on point and your other photos have continued to get better and better.

Margot: Miss Margot you are one of the most vibrant people I’ve met at The Hatchet. You always filled the basement with fun and laughter. Thank you for being you — a strong, cool, kick-ass lady. You inspire me to share more of myself with the world and to be more open.

Annie: You are such a sweet and fun person. You made a community of the basement, always inviting us for outings and bringing us together. I’m sure you will be an amazing social media director, but even more than that, I’m sure you’ll continue to be the glue that holds the basement together.

To my non-Hatchet beans…

Maggie: You are my favorite bean and I will always appreciate your friendship more than you could ever know. The thought of you makes me smile so freaking big. Being placed in the room next to you freshman year was such an immense stroke of luck. I appreciate that you have always supported me and brightened my days. You are incredibly funny, quick-witted, creative and strong. You inspire me with your determination and I am so incredibly proud to call you my friend. Thanks for being my favorite prodo day lunch/dinner date <3.

The Hensley Hall Boys: Edgar, Ben and James – you all have provided me with an outlet when I’ve needed a break from thinking about school and work. You are goofy and fun of course, but you are also all truly supportive, good friends. Thank you for distracting me with bowling and pool when I’ve needed it most and for giving me advice and support throughout my time here.

B Mig: My nug! One of the best blessings The Hatchet gave me was you! If you didn’t walk into one of my photo meetings and decide that I wasn’t too scary to talk to in class we would’ve never been friends. Thank you for putting up with two years of me stumbling into our room post-prodo way too late at night. You are so fun and sweet and the perfect distraction from my stress. Without you, there is no way I would’ve remained kinda sane these past two years.

Shion: The OG rock of my life. I love you more than any words could ever describe, and I don’t think that I will ever find a more special friend in my life. Your immense intelligence inspires me so much to push myself. Your silly nature and your perfect, kind soul are a winning combination. The Hatchet may have kept me from calling once or twice, but you always forgive me with your great big heart. Seeing you over my breaks is something I have always looked forward to the most.

Elissa: My sissa. You are always there to hear me complain and to tell me to be strong and stand up for myself. You are funny and cool and above all the sweetest ever. When I make it home, you are the first person I want a big hug from, and whenever I leave, I make sure to get an extra bone-crushing embrace to hold me over till next time. With your unwavering support and unquestionable loyalty, nobody makes me feel safer than you. I love you so eff-ing much, you are worth everything and more to me.

Mum and Dad: Thank you for loving me throughout this entire process. I love you two more than everything else in the world combined. Mum, you have always been there for me when I needed advice or just to talk. Phone conversations with you are like remote hugs — they make me feel safer and warmer. You are the most supportive person in my life and I can always trust you to use your big brain for my benefit. Daddo, I can always count on you to brighten my day with a dog pic and a creative message “from Marilyn.” When having a bad day those really change my outlook. It’s crazy to say, but thinking about you sitting at home smiling and crafting one of your messages makes my heart so full it could burst.

Donna Armstrong | Contributing Photo Editor

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