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 work on the GW Hatchet newspaper was an incredibly solitary commitment at times. Still, it’s been unquestionably important to my sense of accomplishment, happiness and community on campus.
I was beyond excited when I was accepted to the culture section freshman year. I remember truly sweating over the application. Now as the editor of the section, I’m the one sending out the “welcome to the culture section” emails, something my freshman year self would think was so cool.
But the bizarre timeline between now and then has characterized how I view my progress on the paper.
For my freshman and most of sophomore year, The Hatchet didn’t really give me the social element that student organizations usually do. I was a reporter and then a staff writer, neither of which put me on the actual Hatchet staff. I would go to weekly culture section meetings and briefly socialize, but most of my work was individual and communication with the editors was mainly digital.
It was tough because I saw my friends who were in more traditional student organizations building social outlets for themselves. And as I started taking more and more stories, I didn’t really have time to join another club that would give me that community I was looking for.
I didn’t realize it then, but I was making two of my closest friends during that time I thought was so lonely. Sidney Lee and Molly Kaiser have been on the culture section with me since our first semester on campus. The first story I wrote was one I co-bylined with Sidney, just the other day we talked about how we met in Kogan Plaza to work on the draft together.
Sophomore year, Sidney and Molly were the editors of the section and I got to work with them on a regular basis. That fall semester they invited me to the staff holiday party, which was the first social event I’d attended for the Hatchet. I got to meet other people on staff and get a taste of what that next step up on the paper would look like for me. I was so excited.
That following spring of 2020, of course, was chaos. At the beginning of March, while the pandemic was still budding, I remember sitting at a table in Whole Foods with Sidney and Molly making the decision to move forward with becoming the editor of the culture section.
About a month later, my first time attending a staff meeting, something I’d been looking forward to for two years, was via Zoom in my childhood bedroom. Although I was excited to be the editor of the section, my enthusiasm was muted by the circumstances.
All my introductions to reporters and people I hadn’t met yet on staff were virtual. Every section meeting consisted of me talking to my laptop for 30 minutes. And we didn’t produce a single physical paper for my entire first year on staff.
Last spring, with the hope that we’d be returning to campus for my senior year. I decided to stay on as culture editor for another volume, and I’m so happy I did.
When we arrived on campus and kickstarted training for the volume, it was bizarre to see people I hadn’t seen in a year and half and meet people in-person that I’d only known by their Zoom squares. And the first time I had to lead a section meeting in-person, I experienced an unexpected wave of anxiety.
But as we got into the groove of the volume, I started to enjoy what I had been looking forward to since freshman year: the community of this paper.
The past two semesters, I’ve appreciated simple things about the job more than I would have if I hadn’t had to experience working on the last volume virtually. Having in-person meetings in the townhouse, getting to hang out with and collaborate with the other amazing student journalists on the paper way better than I could over Zoom and being able to report in D.C. again have all been highlights of my last two semesters on The Hatchet.
I wish I could have experienced this sooner than my senior year, but I wouldn’t change anything about how I spent my time on the paper.
Even weeks when I barely talked to other people on staff and when I didn’t want to open my computer for another Zoom meeting, I was getting more journalism practice than I could have in any class or internship.
My time on The Hatchet wouldn’t have been as meaningful as it was without some amazing people I’ve met along the way and support from the people I love:
Sidney and Molly: It’s been such a special thing to watch our friendship grow over the past four years that we’ve worked on the paper together. Regardless of how sporadically we see each other, we always pick up right where we left off and you’re two of my favorite people at this school. Here’s to more memories.
Clara Duhon: From the start of the volume, I knew we’d work really well together. You jumped right in and have been consistently impressive throughout our time together. Regardless of the task, you’re always willing to step up. You’re a stellar journalist and I can’t wait to see what culture puts out under your leadership in this coming volume. I couldn’t have asked for a better person to work with.
Sarah Roach and Lia DeGroot: With the creative liberty that comes along with the culture section, we’ve thrown out some crazy ideas and pitches over the past two volumes. You both have been wonderful to work with and always give our section just the right amount of room to explore that. Through editing and guidance, you’ve made me a better journalist and taught me how to be an editor. I wish you both the best in your careers and am incredibly grateful for our time together on the paper.
Editorial Board: One of my favorite parts of the week is the hour we spend together. I want to thank Andrew Sugrue and Hannah Thacker specifically for your excellent guidance through these meetings and the stimulating atmosphere you created. Listening to the perspectives of everyone on the board has been invaluable and I’ll cherish the sometimes dull, sometimes silly and sometimes contentious conversations we had.
Sydney, Shannon, Hana, Shereen and Grace: I still remember when you taped my first articles on your fridge in Thurston. You all know how much I love you and cherish our friendships. You’ve always been there for me to vent about anything Hatchet related and you’re my biggest cheerleaders.
Izzy and Jackie: I know you’re tired of the phrase, “Sorry I can’t, I have Hatchet” leaving my mouth – I am too. I’m so grateful for your support this year and can’t thank you enough for the hype you give me and my work on the paper.
My family: Even when I was just a reporter freshman year, you all were so excited about my work on this newspaper. Your enthusiasm has given me the motivation to stick with it like I did. I wouldn’t be where I am in life without your love and support, and I’m truly grateful for each of you.
This article appeared in the April 11, 2022 issue of the Hatchet.