Sarah Roach: Caring

Media Credit: Courtesy of Emily Roach

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.

You don’t need raw journalistic talent to work at The Hatchet – you just need to care.

I learned that lesson early on at GW. In October of my freshman year, I hurried back from a Halloween party to write a Hatchet story. It was one of my first – I’d heard students were being unnecessarily sent to the GW Hospital for intoxication, and I wanted to get the story right. I didn’t even bother to change out of my hot dog costume, and I ended up falling asleep with my hands on the keyboard, trying to get my first draft done.

That story was torn apart. By the time it was published, I could really only call the reporting behind it and my first and last name my own. I thought that was that – no more Hatchet. I don’t have the writing abilities to continue working here.

But a couple of days later, my editor asked me to take a new story. I was confused – I didn’t think anyone on The Hatchet wanted to lay eyes on my horrendous writing, nevermind ask for it. I don’t really know how to say no, so I took the story. And if my editor wanted me to write it, I wanted to do everything in my power to write and report it well.

That story was also heavily edited, but by the time it was published, I began to realize that The Hatchet wasn’t expecting me to turn in a flawless story. My editors wanted me to stick around because they knew something I didn’t at the time: I cared.

I cared about getting it right. I cared about the way even a small Student Association blog could impact GW. I cared about staff. I cared about student journalism.

Sometimes I cared too much. In the second semester of my freshman year, I took on one too many news stories, and the senior news editor at the time told me to take a short break (I appreciate you, Andrew). I don’t have very thick skin, as much as I have tried to these past few years, and I cared to the point that I would cry after a source yelled at me. I teared up just as much when an editor nailed a big story.

Other times, it was hard to care. One Thursday night during my first year as editor in chief, I was exhausted and fell asleep at 8 p.m. It was the same night a fire broke out in Thurston Hall, and I woke up an hour later to the tune of 10 missed calls from editors across staff trying to ask me what to do. It took everything in me to wake up, get my act together and put out the news. For every time I felt myself half-assing it, I reminded myself of all the people who read that story to understand what happened. I cared again and if anything, more deeply.

When I stepped up to editor in chief, I was scared. I didn’t think I had the wits or the experience to do it. My initial staff was also young and inexperienced, which sounds like a recipe for disaster. But I filled the paper with people who cared – and even if they didn’t believe in their abilities at the time, I knew they were going to try their hardest because they knew their jobs were important.

I still wonder why I thought it was a good idea to take charge of this paper two years ago. I’m surprised when people say they enjoyed working with me and then sign up for another year of it. But maybe it’s because through all of my moments here – both rewarding and difficult – I valued this institution more than anything else on campus. That gave me passion and confidence I didn’t know I had, and I know the same holds true for every single person who cares about this paper, too.

Courtesy of Emily Roach

Volume 118: You all remind me of the first Hatchet staff I hired – eager and a little young. That makes me more happy than I can say, because new faces make the paper better. I mean what I said above – you might feel like you’re unfit for your jobs right now, but you really just need to know why you’re here and run with it. I’ve seen a lot of people pass through the paper who are talented but don’t give a damn, but the people I list below gave everything to this paper. You will all do great.

Volumes 116 & 117: You two are so different but so similar. I had a Hatchet prom and holiday and Halloween with one of you and not with the other. 116, thank you for the time and energy you put into this paper. I don’t think there are enough words for me to express my thanks. P.S. I actually didn’t find half the stuff I said during staff meeting funny, but laughter is my way of navigating uncomfortable situations. 117, I’m sorry I could only get to know you over Zoom. I’m sorry you couldn’t experience the parts of The Hatchet that make it great, but I am confident you will soon. You pushed through one of the most emotionally exhausting years I have ever had on the paper, and you never failed to amaze me through the chaos. You should be proud of yourselves – I certainly am.

To staff:

Parth Kotak: When I first asked you to be half SNE, we were in the middle of Marvin, and I was quite literally sitting on the edge of my seat. I am eternally grateful that you accepted the position, but I’d be remiss to say you did so much more. You quickly took interest in all aspects of the paper, from copy to design to ops from time to time. You picked up the job of SNE with ease, which impressed me because you hate reporting. And more than that, you became a friend and someone who would always listen to my rants and offer advice I took up pretty much every time. I’m still not sure why an aspiring law student like you stayed with The Hatchet, although Leah once told me you enjoy power. I’m going to miss hanging out in the townhouse and heading to Whole Foods to pick up some free meals. This year’s staff may be quick to criticize you, but you improved this paper tenfold and left it a better place.

Jared Gans: It’s funny, because we both started at The Hatchet at the same time, but we had two different trajectories. Maybe it’s because student life and academics are so different, but I love how in the end we were able to work closely together. I could not have hoped for a better SNE to lead news through the pandemic. You listened to your editors, knew when to give them a break and pushed them when they need a nudge. I’ll miss our check-ins, which I will remember as me rambling about pretty much anything that came to mind and you nodding or offering some advice. You may have hoped to graduate alongside this class, but I sleep better knowing you have institutional knowledge you can bring to the next volume. I hope you bring a sense of the pre-covid Hatchet to staff next year – the paper needs it.

Lia DeGroot: I always knew you were fit to be an editor. I’ll never forget asking you to step up to metro – I’d spent the previous 24 hours trying to make it back from a spring break trip to Spain, and I walked into Gelbucks looking bleary-eyed to meet you for coffee. You calmly accepted the gig, and I thought, “Well that was easy.” I know you will excel at this job, because you have consistently shown grace under pressure and want the best for staff. I could not be more proud of the way you have stepped into this role, albeit entirely online. Trust your gut and remember to take a breather. And if you ever second-guess yourself, know that you are in this job for a reason.

Emily Maise: When I first hired you, I was nervous. You were a little timid, and I wasn’t sure how you were going to acclimate to the demanding role of sports editor (and the cast of characters that are your sources). But I was blown away. You took initiative, wrote gracefully and taught me a thing or two about sports (particularly squash). I knew I could trust you to handle athletic sources with care, and you impressed me week after week with your stories. It has been an honor to work with you – and I mean it. A lot of people on The Hatchet want to be the loudest in the room, and you proved that you can be a fierce editor and lead by example. I’m looking forward to seeing you and Parth work in the same law firm.

Kiran Hoeffner-Shah: It’s easy to pick on you. I could point out that time you were in a completely different state when you were supposed to be at staff meeting. I could talk through the time I sent Meredith looking for you when it was 3 p.m. on a Sunday and no one had heard a peep. But for this, I know I can’t because you did a lot more for the paper than sleep through important meetings. I know MD wasn’t what you envisioned for senior year, but I am grateful you stepped up to it. Thank you for being a friend, a good listener and the first person to write whatever was on your mind (even if other people thought I talked you into it). I’ve always been impressed by your pitches, too, even if they belonged in the “minor grievances” section.

Hannah Thacker: I’m not going to lie, I am sometimes intimidated by you. You’re assertive, and you have a way of being blunt in the most polite way. But more than that, you have been a great ops editor. I hope you are proud of your accomplishments these past few years – my favorite part of this job is watching people grow, and it was apparent that you got better week after week (but it’s toward, not towards!). Despite all of your responsibilities outside of the paper, you never complained and showed compassion for your writers, your (lack of) cartoonists and me. That’s what is going to make you a great managing director. Please continue the scavenger hunt, by the way.

Andrew Sugrue: I cannot tell you how much I have enjoyed having you on staff this year. You are a calm presence, an incredible writer and you have a sense of humor I know staff will appreciate next year. I can’t wait to see how you lead ops next volume – I know you will do amazing so long as you limit the number of RSC op-eds.

Olivia Columbus: My favorite moments with you have been in the townhouse, talking through what we want the pages to look like when suddenly, your eyes light up and you have an idea. I’m never sure what exactly you have in mind, but I let you carry it out anyway. Some of those ideas won you an award, and I hope you are proud of that. I’ve missed hanging out with you in and out of the townhouse this year, and I can imagine this year’s in-person prodos would have been fun and maybe even more laid back because, ya know, they just would have. Thank you for bringing your talent to a paper that has taken more of your time than you bargained for.

Grace Miller: You have the personality of a design editor. I know you don’t know what that means yet, but when you’re in the townhouse at 10 p.m. on a Sunday night and you can feel staff grow tired and tense, you will. I’m excited to see a potentially physical newspaper produced by you.

Lizzie Mintz: I have worried about you from time to time. Whenever you kicked your reporting into high gear and dedicated a weekend to churning out a big story, other people said, “Job well done,” while I thought, “Is she OK?” But those concerns aside, you should be so proud. I don’t think you give yourself enough credit for how much you pour into things you care about – you are a lot better than you think you are. If you could do anything as you start your post-GW years, it’s to take a few minutes to write down all you’ve done. You have made this paper better, and I hope you never forget that.

Ed Prestera: You wanted to leave a couple of times throughout the past couple of years, but I am so glad you stayed. Thank you for navigating copy during a particularly difficult year and for being a meticulous fact checker. Those are two positions that don’t get nearly enough appreciation, and you exceeded expectations in both roles.

Tiffany Garcia: I knew you would make a perfect student life editor the minute I talked to you. You had all of these ideas of how to better connect with students, and you have that personality that all the student life sources I know of love to spend time around. Not only that, but you find ways around literally any challenge you face, from your concussion to your semester-long push to get back to D.C. this spring. I am proud of you. I hope you come back to staff after campaigning, because you make this paper a better place.

Jarrod Wardwell: I always had a soft spot for you, because I knew that if we were in person this year, you would have my back if anyone came at me for supporting Boston sports. That reminds me – make sure you have your guard up when anyone is bashing Boston sports this fall, they can get a little nasty. Anyhow, I know you will be an amazing SNE. You think outside the box, and you have this excitement for big stories that will serve your news team well. Remember that your team’s success depends on their well-being. Check in on them, talk them through struggles and build camaraderie with them.

Zach Schonfeld: You often really confused me, because you did a lot and somehow never felt stressed. It was motivating, though, because it helped me understand that you do all the work that you do because it excites you. It’s like you’re a reporter who just snagged breaking news but on a loop. I know you will bring that same energy to The Hatchet next year, and I’m excited to see what you do.

Isha Trivedi: It takes a special person to take on academics. You need to have genuine interest in all things faculty, and you need to pass that interest down to a group of reporters. You succeeded in that, even when you were all the way across the country. I know news is tiring and sometimes the last thing you want to do some days, but you have brought more to the paper than you think, and I have loved watching you grow.

Makena Roberts: When people first cover the SA, they think, “This is fun. I get to learn about how the student government works.” But as you know, it’s much more than that and a bit more difficult. Covering the SA was a learning curve for me, which makes me that more impressed with how you handled yourself these past couple of years. Beyond all that you have done, I will remember you as a really eager freshman reporter who took initiative and wanted to know everything about reporting. Now, take some time to sleep!

Ciara Regan: At the beginning of this year, you came to me a little uncertain about your position. You weren’t sure if you were doing everything right, but I can assure you that you handled blogs with care this year and somehow got people to cover yet another virtual screen. I know you will do the same in podcast, and I am so excited to see what you do.

Heidi Estrada, Dante Schulz & Amanda Plocharski: You three are so much more talented than you think. You bring so much creativity to the video section, and you see potential in the section that I don’t think people had before. Heidi, you have juggled a lot, and you still managed to produce good work in the video section. Thank you for pushing the section to new heights. You should give yourself more credit for all you have done. Dante, oh Dante. You love projects just as much as me, if not more. Every idea you had was always the start of something bigger, and that is what I have admired most about you. And like I said during staff meeting, your mind can run wild and you can still make people feel calm and comfortable. You always did that. Amanda, I cannot wait to see how you navigate the video section when it’s back in person. From what I can see over Zoom, you are an excitable person and you wanted the best for the section despite all of its setbacks this year. You pushed the videographers to do their best work, and I am certain you will continue that come fall.

Aaron Kovacs & Jack Liu: It’s hard for me to understand how you could stand someone as web-illiterate as me, but I’m not mad about it. Aaron, you are a gem of The Hatchet. I mean it – you bring creativity and talent to literally every project you have touched. The paper needs more people like you. Jack, I valued having you on staff last year. You knew you had some to learn from Nathan, but you took it in stride and worked so hard to set yourself up for the job.

Lillian Bautista: Oh Lillian, little did you know your senior photo editor stint would so heavily rely on file photos. I’m sorry about that, I wish I could have given you a heads up. Thank you for leading photo with an iron fist this past year and for pushing the section to think outside the box when they were ready to take another photo illustration. You may have leaned on photo illustrations and Zoom portraits, but you also led this section through its fair share of sensitive, meaningful coverage. I can’t imagine how you juggled all of your roles this year, but I am so glad you stuck with The Hatchet through it all. Please. Never. Stop. Sending. TikToks.

Arielle Bader: I remember one night last year, you came into my office and asked to talk. I thought to myself, oh god – she’s quitting. But you didn’t. You just had this really cool photo idea. And to my recollection, that happened more than once in the townhouse. You brought talent and creativity and passion to this paper. You brought the section to a new level, if only we could note the photo tab was created by you on the website. I have loved working with you, and I am so excited to see where you go.

Team photo: Grace Hromin, I have no doubt you are going to excel at senior photo editor. You are kind, compassionate and so organized. You have a rare opportunity to bring the section back to pre-covid times (a responsibility I think Lillian wished she had), and I know you are going to succeed at that. I wish I could have gotten to know you in person. Sophia Young, Camille Desanto & Sabrina Godin, you three signed up for jobs I think you were hoping would be in person, but you carried your sections so well. Please save yourself from another photo illustration this fall – I can’t bear to look at one again.

Lindsay Paulen: I sometimes got nervous when you texted me this past year. I either thought you were going to tell me there’s an error in a story or ask me for Hatchet tea. But I was grateful for whatever it was, because you were the person who caught me when it was hard to care. You never let me slip. You are so meticulous, and you never settle until you are completely satisfied with your work. That is an admirable trait, and I know it will serve you well wherever you go.

Donna Armstrong: I could have not asked for a better photo editor sophomore year, through the late SA meetings and the even later SBA meeting. I always looked forward to when you came to the townhouse to drop off photos or go through SA meetings, because I knew we could debrief after dealing with a share of wild people. You often say you’re awkward, but I think that is my favorite quality about you. You can be awkward and an amazing asset to staff at once, and you have done just that.

Amy Liu: You make me nervous sometimes with your TikToks! But they also make me laugh – a lot – and help me think back to a time when staff could sit around in the townhouse and crack jokes. When I asked you what you wanted to do last year, you knew you wanted social. I was a little hesitant to hand it to you – I thought you’d be better as a news editor or in copy, but you knew what you wanted and you excelled at it. You will make a great social media director, and I’m excited to see your name in my inbox on Thursday mornings.

Yankun Zhao, Lauren Sforza & Carly Neilson: You three led the most underrated section of staff with a careful eye. I don’t think I’ve noted quite how important your job is and how much I appreciate that you took it on – when I was a research assistant, I called myself a “goalie” trying to block errors from publication. You three are going to go far on the paper – I know this because you are consistent, intuitive and dedicated. I can’t wait to see where you go.

Sidney Lee & Molly Kaiser: You two make me smile. I think my favorite memory is when Molly pitched this new mural being painted, and I suddenly thought, “Project!” And then you two went on to piece together an incredible story. Molly, you found a way to funnel your passions for sustainability and fashion into the culture section. You have a way of bringing to life ideas I sometimes was skeptical about, and I hope you bring that same creativity to the paper next volume. Sidney, when you signed onto another year with The Hatchet, you didn’t know whether you’d go abroad – but you knew you wanted The Hatchet to be there when you got back. I think that’s a testament to your commitment to this paper – you have wanted to do whatever you could to be an asset, and week after week you pieced together your section. I’ll let you and Molly know when I’m back in D.C. for drinks.

Anna Boone & Diego Mendoza: When you first interviewed for your roles, you had so many ideas of how to lead the culture section. Then covid happened, and you didn’t flinch. You just thought of more great ideas. Anna, you took initiative and made the best of what I’m fairly certain was an exhausting year. You have every ability to grow your section, so long as you take some time for yourself, hand work out to everyone who is there to help and trust yourself. I am cheering you on in your second year. Diego, when I told you about this idea to interview all of the people around the White House before Biden’s election, you jumped at the opportunity. That’s how you approached a lot of your work at The Hatchet – with this excitement that everyone wants to be around. I can’t wait to see how you use that for the betterment of staff this fall.

Alec Rich & Sarah Sachs: When I needed to calm myself down, I looked to your section. Week after week, you put together your respective podcasts seemingly effortlessly. Alec, I’ll never forget when you first decided to become the news podcast host – you were sitting in my office after having debated leaving staff. You brought that podcast to a new level and created something I hope you’re proud of. Sarah, I secretly hoped you wanted to be podcast producer when you applied to join staff, mainly because I’d never heard your podcast voice before. But you have that podcast voice, which has served you well as you created an entirely new dimension of the section. I’m excited to see where you bring the section next year.

To former staff:

Dani Grace: Let’s jog our memories back to fall 2018, when we went for a run around the National Mall and you were trying to explain to me why you didn’t want a leadership position on staff when you returned from study abroad. I had very different plans for you, and I am endlessly thankful you accepted them. I think the most admirable thing about you is that you notice things – you noticed when I was tired, you noticed when I could barely edit another story, and you noticed when it was time to go outside for a walk. I didn’t always like that you noticed the side I was trying to shield from staff, but I am glad you did now. This past year wasn’t the same without you, and I wish we could make a cheese board and joke around with Parth just one more time.

Cayla Harris: As I write this, I’m looking across my desk at four popsicle sticks. It was part of a present you pieced together for the news team while you were SNE. “Good listener” is written on one, while “quick learner” is written on another. Not only did it make my day, but it reminded me that you are the person who believed I could grow at this paper when I didn’t myself. You’re the person who asked me to take on another story when I thought no one else wanted to see my writing, and you pushed me to move up on staff when I thought there were a million other people who could do the jobs better. Thank you for believing in me, for being my friend through the good and bad times on staff and for seeing the best in people. I would say you’re going to do great things after GW, but you already have.

Meredith Roaten: If only everyone could have known you on staff. You were the news editor who helped me realize that the paper can be a place to learn and have fun. You helped me with my Halloween costume my freshman year (not the hot dog one), and you never failed to bring enthusiasm to literally every Hatchet party. Thank you for hearing me out on my bad days, for bringing me Panera every Sunday and for cheering me on when I needed it. You would drop everything to help those you care about. I think everyone needs a friend like you.

Leah Potter: So much has happened since we decorated the Hatchet townhouse from head to toe with wrapping paper and paper snowflakes. To name one, you got a head injury that I am fairly certain helped you realize that you should become MD your senior year. You offered a support system to staff that is so needed, and you handled situations with the utmost care. I have missed having you around this past year – you are collected, kind and hard working. I am lucky to have you in my life.

Olivia Dupree: I am forever grateful you accepted the design editor position on a whim at the beginning of Volume 116. You make everyone around you feel better, and you have this side to you that is a privilege to see – because it only shines through when people have gotten to know you. Thank you for making the late night prodos feel shorter, for your kindness and for the tone you set for the next design editors. I hope you meet Grace Miller one day, she reminds me of you.

Ilena Peng: You had a way of making every task at the paper look easy. You helped last year’s news team in every way, shape and form, then you proved that you could also be an essential part of the web section. I hope you’re continuing to take a break, because you packed a lot into two and a half years at GW. Thank you for everything you’ve done.

Natalie Prieb & Kelly Hooper: You two were a dynamic duo. I’ve missed your calm presence in the townhouse, and I’ve loved watching the two of you as you moved on to bigger things. Kelly, I’ve always been impressed by the way you carry yourself and your ability to turn around stories effortlessly. I could count on you to take a story, and when you took on copy again the next year, I always knew you edited meticulously. Natalie, you were a joy to work with. You were a great listener, a careful eye and always brought the best snacks to the townhouse. I have missed having you on staff this past year.

Lillianna Byington: Thank you for bringing me onto staff and making me feel included. I’ll never forget walking out of the townhouse one night as a fact checker with my head down, when you stopped me and asked if I wanted to come to your 21st birthday party. You were a kind yet tough leader, and I’ve valued your advice over the years.

Liz Provencher: When I first decided to step up to EIC, I wasn’t completely sure of myself. I thought I was a tad young, but I knew I wanted to ensure The Hatchet succeeded after your tenure. Thank you for preparing me for EIC when I really did not think I could do it. A lot of your advice has stuck with me through the past two years, some of which I don’t think fits in this 30. I’ll always remember the times you would be in the townhouse before staff meeting as culture editor, asking me to grab a bagel from Carvings and showing me how you find pitches.

Arianna Dunham: I’m not sure if you know this, but you were my very first editor. You encouraged me to take videos, and you supported me when I was trying to decide whether I should pursue team news or video heading into sophomore year. Thank you for all of your advice and insight through my first two years and for keeping in touch in the years since you graduated. P.S. I promise I didn’t tell Kiran to write the business school piece – that was all him.

Andrew Gousdward: As a reporter, news editors would always say “Wait till Andrew reads your draft” and raise their eyebrows in fear. It wasn’t that bad, though! You made me a better reporter and writer, and I always looked up to you my freshman year. You managed the news team with kindness, and I am grateful that you looked after my well-being when I was taking one too many stories as a reporter.

To friends, mentors and sources:

Nia Lartey: You are a light. I can’t tell you how proud I am of all you have accomplished since you arrived at GW. I know you do a lot, and you put other people before yourself. But I hope you take time for yourself every once in a while, call me for pizza and reflect on all that you’ve done. You leave a positive impression on every person you meet. You will always inspire me.

Professor Zuckerman & Professor Roberts: Thank you for being a sounding board over the past two years. I will always remember spending time talking through everything about the paper, from the latest difficult source to staff morale. You two offered a birdseye view of the paper that I greatly needed, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from you.

Jordan West, Cissy Petty & Michael Tapscott: You three care about this school more than any other administrator I know, and it shows. I hope you know you make GW a better place, and I have appreciated our conversations through the years.

Ashley Le: I realized through working with you that your job is just as anxiety-inducing as most roles on The Hatchet, but I always appreciated the patience that you, Yannik, AJ Link, Amy and James offered through the paper’s highs and lows with you all. And to answer your question from two years ago, yes, we can be friends now that my Hatchet tenure is up.

Peak Sen Chua & Sydney Nelson: I know you were skeptical of me at first. I was a stressed out freshman reporter, and you two were tenured student leaders wishing Cayla was leading an interview rather than me. But I am grateful for your patience and your trust in me. Thank you for confiding in me, giving me a handful of stories and keeping in touch when you heard GW was off its rocker.

Amanda Rey: Thank you for setting aside time to talk with me about, well, anything. You have been a constant support, and whenever I could mark my calendar with a meeting with you I knew I had something to look forward to. You look out for your students so well, and I can’t tell you how thankful I am that you’ve looked out for me and The Hatchet.

Maralee Csellar & Crystal Nosal: Thank you for sticking up for us when we needed it. You two wear a lot of hats at GW, and it’s nice to see you can work for the University and understand our jobs at the paper.

D.C. cousins: Thank you for giving me probably the only prepared meals of my two and a half years in D.C. and for giving me a support system when I felt a little in over my head. I’ve missed spending time with you, and I hope one day we can stroll around the Mall again after &Pizza with Sparrow.

Gwyn & Tara: Oh friends, I owe you so much. You made me to-do lists when I couldn’t stand to open my notebook, you brought me brownies from Whole Foods when I was down, you played music to help me fall asleep and you learned more about The Hatchet than you would like to know. I made you a cartoonist and a podcast producer when neither of you asked to be one. I sometimes wonder why either of you would want to continue being my friend when you realized I was on track to be a crazy student reporter, but I am forever grateful you did.

Danvers friends (Elena, Julia, Nicole, Athena & Holly): Unless I find some new hobby to fill up all of my time, I don’t think you’ll hear me say “Sorry, I have The Hatchet” again. I’m sorry you haven’t seen me much these past few years, but thank you for checking in on me and supporting me even when you really didn’t want to.

Mom, Emily & Marty (and Rosie<3): I can say with confidence that you’ll no longer hear my phone buzzing with texts and calls and emails when we’re trying to eat dinner. I don’t think any of you ever wished to see me run The Hatchet from home this past year, but I am thankful that you made space for me and supported me anyway. I’m sorry I couldn’t spend as much time with you these past few years, but I’m unemployed at the moment so you’ll be seeing a lot of me this summer:)

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