Kelly Hooper: Embracing the unexpected

Media Credit: Arielle Bader | Assistant Photo Editor

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.

At the start of my sophomore year, I was confused about where I “fit in” at GW. I’d tried out several student organizations as a freshman, but none had stuck. It seemed like everyone else around me had already found their niche, and I worried it was too late for me to find mine.

At the same time, I didn’t know where I was going with my journalism major. I’d come to college thinking I wanted to go into broadcast journalism, but after taking a year of G-PAC and introductory journalism classes, I realized I had a lot of different interests that I might want to pursue as a career. Everything I’d expected my college experience to be, it really wasn’t.

As a last ditch effort to find a student organization I liked, I applied to be a news reporter for The Hatchet. If nothing else, I thought it would be a great resume builder. But after nearly three years of being a part of this newspaper, what I’ve found here is so much more than what a few lines on a resume could ever describe.

Within my first few months as a reporter for the student life beat, I was doing things I never thought I had the confidence to do: walking up to students on the spot for interviews, pitching story ideas and cold-calling experts – to name a few. I’ve always been shy, so being forced to step out of my comfort zone in these different ways was invaluable to me as a journalist.

Every time I came to the townhouse as a reporter, I was struck by the amount of time and dedication everyone on staff put into the paper. I saw the relationships editors had built with one another through a shared passion for journalism, for holding the University accountable, for telling stories that matter to students. They had built a community I wanted to be a part of, so when a copy editor position opened up at the end of my sophomore year, I decided to apply – even though I wasn’t even entirely sure what a copy editor was.

Deleting Oxford commas, correcting the use of “freshman” and spelling out numbers below 10 soon became second nature for me. And while staying at the townhouse every Sunday night until the early hours of Monday morning was definitely never part of my college plan, it turns out it was exactly where I was meant to be.

Arielle Bader | Assistant Photo Editor

Being on staff as a copy editor, I learned how to edit stories for clarity and grammar – which will help me immensely in my journalism career – but most importantly, I made memories surrounded by amazing people who inspire me, make me laugh and push me to be better. I’ve never seen a more hardworking, dedicated group of individuals – all who freely choose to come together to make The Hatchet the best it can be.

I partially found where I “fit in” at GW through my reporting and copy editing for The Hatchet, but mostly, I found it through the people I’ve met while doing this work. I found it in every conversation about the homework we were all behind on, in the Taylor Swift/Jonas Brothers/“High School Musical” singing sessions at midnight, in the myriad of food discourse – my favorite of which explored what qualifies as a dumpling. I also found it in the editors who I could go to with any questions or confusion, who made me feel comfortable asking for help when I needed it.

Thinking back to my freshman self who thought she would be working toward a career in broadcast journalism and taking part in several student organizations – none of which were The Hatchet – I wish I could tell her to throw away all of her expectations for what the next four years will look like.

I would tell her that things don’t always happen as you expect them to, and that’s OK. For me, it was actually the best thing that could have happened.

To the people who helped me find my place:

Cayla Harris: Thank you for forcing me to join The Hatchet and telling me to apply for copy editor. I literally owe my Hatchet career to you. It was so nice having you not only as a familiar face when we first got to GW but also when I first joined staff. I learned so much about journalism with you as my editor, and I’ve always admired your talent as a writer and reporter. It’s no surprise that you’re absolutely killing it in Albany. Also, I’ve missed you this semester – can we please catch up over coffee next time we’re both in Monmouth County?

Dani Grace: I’m so glad I got to know you more through the multiple classes we had together this semester. It’s been great having someone who is equally as confused as I am about our projects/papers. You are also such a ray of sunshine in the townhouse every week, and I greatly appreciate your quirks and antics with Parth, especially when we all need a laugh on Sunday nights. You are such a talented writer, reporter and editor, and I can’t wait to see what you do next.

Meredith Roaten: You never fail to make me laugh, and you are also one of the kindest people I’ve met at The Hatchet. Somehow you become the focus of everyone’s hotseat – but that just goes to show how fun and memorable you make every Hatchet event. When you were a news editor, I was so impressed with how well you knew your beat, and I’m equally as impressed with the way you’ve led the podcast this volume. Keep wearing your fabulous outfits and bringing comic relief to Sunday prodo.

Leah Potter: I’ve always thought of you as such a calming presence in the townhouse, even while you’ve handled so much. Your kindness and dedication have made you a wonderful fit for managing director this volume. Thank you for working hard to make every member of staff feel more comfortable.

Sarah Roach: I’m so proud of the way you’ve taken charge of the paper this volume. Seeing you go from student life reporter, to research assistant, to student life editor and now editor in chief, I’ve always been amazed by your work ethic and journalistic talent. Thank you for making a conscious effort to end prodo earlier – it means so much to the entire late-night crew. Your goofiness and light-hearted energy have made being on staff this volume so much fun for me and everyone else. I love that you can barely get through a sentence in staff meetings without laughing. And despite comments I’ve made in the past, you’re not so bad at AP style after all.

Arielle Bader | Assistant Photo Editor

Liz Provencher: Thank you for hiring me onto your volume. I always admired the careful attention you paid to every section of the paper and how strong you were in your decision-making as editor in chief. You handled tough situations with grace and always pushed everyone on staff to do and be better.

Annie Dobler: You made joining staff such an easy transition for me, and I’m so grateful we got to navigate copy together for a year. Through those many, many late Sunday and Wednesday nights, I’m so glad we became close friends who can now bond over “Grey’s Anatomy” and our love of happy hour.

Lizzie Mintz: Even though you didn’t know my name at our first Hatchet Prom, we’ve come such a long way since then, and I’m so glad to now call you a friend. I’ve always admired you as a talented and dedicated reporter, and I’m so proud of how you’ve taken over the student life section this year. Keep up the amazing work, but please try to get a little more sleep next semester. Also, I’m really sorry I never made it to an SA meeting.

Kate McCarthy: You are easily one of the sweetest people ever, and I’m so glad student life brought us together sophomore year. I’ve loved having you as a familiar face in meetings and SMPA classes over these past few years. There’s no one else I would have wanted to travel to every Hatchet event with.

Zach Slotkin: The basement has missed you so much this volume, but I love that we still listen to your Spotify playlists every week. I’m grateful for how you always seemed to bring us together outside of the townhouse and were always willing to hang out or go on different outings. The Peace Corps is so lucky to have you.

Lindsay Paulen: I’m so mad you went abroad for my last semester at GW. You are one of the funniest people I know, and I’ve truly missed gossiping with you and hearing all your tea. I hope you come back to The Hatchet next semester (even though I won’t be there), because you have so much to offer this paper.

Olivia Dupree: The basement gang is lucky to have you. Thank you for bringing us together every week by continuing the food discourse tradition and expressing your many hot takes. You’re also such a talented designer, and I so admire how you stepped up when the section needed you this volume. I know we’re both stressed about post-grad right now, but I have no doubt you will go far in whatever you do. Also, your weekly rhymes in the PDF emails always brought me joy after a long day of prodo.

Parth Kotak: Your constant questioning of AP style this semester drove me crazy at times, but it just shows how much you care about making this paper the best it can be. You are definitely not a contributing copy editor, but you are truly doing an amazing job as SNE. I also really appreciate that you’ve been generally nice to me despite your constant sarcasm toward most other people on staff. I’m sad I won’t be there for this anymore, but please continue to make fun of Sarah for how bad she is at reading over the pages.

Natalie Prieb: I wouldn’t want to leave my section to anyone else. From the first time I trained you, I knew you’d make a great copy editor, and I’m so proud of how quickly you’ve picked up on AP/Hatchet style. You’re always such a positive presence in the basement every week, and I’ll miss singing along to Taylor Swift and the Jonas Brothers with you. Though it’s so hard to let go of copy, I know it’s in good hands with you and Ed. Have fun with it, and know that I’m always here for any copy qs you might have.

Arielle Bader | Assistant Photo Editor

Olivia Columbus: You have been an amazing addition to the basement this volume. Though Olivia D. leaves big shoes to fill in the design section, I’ve already seen you step into your new role with confidence and ease. I hope you continue the traditions of food discourse and PDF rhymes.

Sidney Lee: The culture section has been killing it this volume, and there’s no doubt that your talent as a writer and editor is driving that. Your passion for all things art and music make you the perfect person to lead your section, and your sweet, calm demeanor has been a welcome addition to the basement this year.

Emily Maise: I’m truly sorry for calling sports out as being the worst at copy. Like I’ve said before, it’s just a tricky section with style. But your section has actually been my favorite to copy edit this volume, and that is largely due to your writing and editing talent. Despite how stressful I know your job is sometimes, you tackle it with such poise and composure and always produce amazing content. I hope you never quit going back at Parth when he tries to disparage sports.

Team Photo: Each one of you has impressed me so much with the quality of your work this volume. You all take on so much yet still manage to bring beautiful photos to the paper every week. Arielle Bader: Thank you for taking my 30 photos even though I waited until the last possible minute to ask you. You are an extremely talented photographer and a calming presence in the townhouse every week. Also, thank you for encouraging me and everyone else on staff to be more sustainable.

Ed Prestera: I was really impressed by how quickly you picked up on catching style errors when I trained you, and I know I’m leaving my section in good hands with you and Natalie. I may be biased, but copy is secretly one of the most important sections on The Hatchet. There are so many tiny mistakes that would get passed over if it weren’t for our section, so remember to question everything. And don’t forget to have fun with it.

Mom and Dad: Sorry for all the times I didn’t answer your FaceTime calls on Sunday nights. You are the most loving and supporting parents ever, and I am beyond blessed to know you’re in my corner no matter what. Thank you for always pushing me to try new things and step out of my comfort zone.

Martin, Ryan and Claire: I’m so lucky I have all of you to come home to. Thank you for pushing me to do and be better – the sibling rivalry has really driven me over the years. I know you are all going to do amazing things, and I can’t wait to see how our different paths take shape.

-30-

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.