Hannah Thacker: Finding control in chaos

Media Credit: Courtesy of Lillian Bautista

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.

My first Hatchet Opinion piece ever was written on my phone in the middle of the Neanderthal exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. As screaming kids ran around me and stressed parents craned their necks to keep an eye on them, I sat and wrote about why the School of Media and Public Affairs needed greater diversity among students and faculty. I had been told by the then-editor 10 minutes before I started writing that I had 30 minutes to send her my first draft. I had no idea what a hyperlink was. I had no clue how to articulate what I wanted to say. I just wrote out a two-page rant and hoped for the best.

Starting my time at the Hatchet surrounded by chaos and trying my best to write something perfectly sums up my time here.

While my college years have sustained some bumps and bruises here and there – two breakups, a global pandemic that forced us all to abandon campus, three moves and countless minor grievances – The Hatchet has carried me through it all. My deadlines stayed the same, production days stayed the same and the paper kept publishing no matter what was going on in my personal life or the world. This constant rhythm of routine is what kept me on my path and helped me keep going no matter what was happening around me.

Several months into quarantine, when it became clear that we would not be physically returning to school anytime soon, I remember feeling as if the ground I stood on had been pulled out from under me. I felt as if I were drowning at sea, couldn’t see land and couldn’t touch the bottom of the ocean. But the one thing that kept me afloat was The Hatchet. The constant deadlines, staff meetings, Editorial Board meetings and editing threw me a life raft. And now that we have returned to in-person meetings and activities, it feels almost unfair that I have to say goodbye so soon.

No matter what chaos was happening around me or within me, the Hatchet was always there to remind me, usually through a passive-aggressive text from the Editor in Chief, that deadlines are deadlines and churning out happenings to report and comment on stops for no one, not even me. This is a lesson that I learned pretty early on and will carry with me throughout my career in journalism.

Courtesy of Lillian Bautista

When looking back at my time at The Hatchet, I will not remember the late nights cutting the page, finishing edits at two in the morning, Student Association election deliberations until four in the morning and dealing with belligerent writers. I will not remember how overwhelming my positions have been, nor how stuck I often felt. Instead, I will remember sliding down the stairs in the basement on a caution sign, decorating the Opinions corner, going on and running the annual scavenger hunt and most important, whether I’d rather be a skinless sack of bones or a boneless sack of skin.

This piece is my 68th byline, and will be my last for The Hatchet. I have learned so much here and will cherish the countless hours I have put into this newspaper. Everything I have done here has prepared me for my career in journalism and taught me so much about life.

Here’s to the people who made it all possible:

Mom, Dad and Sam: Nu? What can I say that hasn’t been said before? I will never forget making the decision to move to D.C. and how it meant leaving all of you behind. Now I’ve been thousands of miles away for close to three years and I miss you all every day. I love you and appreciate you with all my heart. Love, your “charming” daughter and sister.

Zaydeh: From two dorms and two apartments, the photo of you holding the first edition of The Hatchet I was published in has come with me. Your faith in me and everything I’ve ever chosen to do means the world to me.

Bubbie: I know you’re not here to read this, but I like to think you have been able to watch me grow and change over the years. Your loving hands guided me to become the person I am today and I feel your absence every day.

My extended family: You folks have shared every piece I have ever written for The Hatchet on Facebook. You supported me when I decided to leave Los Angeles, fly across the country to D.C. and go to school here, supported me through literally every endeavor I have chosen to pursue, and I don’t think I’ve ever fully articulated how thankful I am for all of you. From showing up to past dance recitals and theatre performances to sending me supportive texts through every life change. I am forever grateful. Thank you.

Renee: I don’t know if you know this, but it was your time as Opinions Editor that showed me that I could be an editor. As a person of color in this predominantly white institution, I struggled to find my place here. Your leadership and support got me to where I am today.

Andrew: Talking with you constantly stretches my vocabulary and I wouldn’t want it any other way. From late nights walking at a 45 degree angle to walks after staff meetings, your friendship has carried me through so much change. You’ve done a stellar job as Opinions Editor and I just know you’re going to go so far in life. I can’t wait to see how we grow and change over time.

Kiran: I miss your chaos, it was a good chaos. While I didn’t like the numerous staff meetings I had to do alone, you were my only friend on staff for a long time. I know you’re onto bigger and better things now, but be kind to yourself always.

Lillian: While we never worked together, probably a good thing given other factors, I have always been in awe of your work ethic. You managed to be on staff, be in ROTC and juggle school during your time here and now you’re juggling two careers. I look up to you in so many important ways. Your support, care and love has made all the difference throughout these chaotic years. Thank you for everything and all the love you have shown me.

Sarah and Lia: I will never understand why anyone would want to be the Editor in Chief. But the way both of you behaved gracefully under serious pressure will always amaze me. Very often when I got overwhelmed I would sit and think “well they can do it and do much more than me, so I can do this.” Thanks for putting up with my propensity toward forgetting important things.

Zach and Jared: I may not be entirely sure of what your current roles entail, but I do know that you both are quality people who put everything into your roles here. You both are going to go so far and I can’t wait to sit and read your many bylines throughout your long careers.

Shreeya: Your drive has always impressed me. You’re curious, ask important questions and hold people and departments accountable for their actions and in many cases, inactions. I know that this drive will serve you well as you move forward, beyond The Hatchet, and I can’t wait to see what you do.

Edboard for 116 and 117: Being a part of and leading the Editorial Board was one of the highlights of my time here. To be surrounded by such hardworking and thoughtful people was truly an honor. I know all of you will do so many good things in life.

News team: I worked hard to break down the social barriers between the news team and the opinions team, and I like to think I did a decent job. Thanks for tolerating all of my loitering in the newsroom. I don’t think you guys get enough credit for all that you do, so keep up the good work, I know you all make an impact every day.

Every Opinions writer I’ve ever edited: I’ve critiqued your word choices, cut paragraphs and in some cases changed the entire direction of your pieces. Throughout all of that, I tried to uplift your voices and make it known that you have a place here. You all are so talented, keep speaking your truths and keeping people in check.

-30-

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