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.
I never knew how to take a good photo.
Of course, I knew how to shoot a camera on automatic and take something on my phone, but I never knew how to genuinely take a good photo on a digital camera manually. It never was a passion of mine.
I decided to join The Hatchet on a whim after I saw an Instagram story about signing up. I had never taken any interest in photography or journalism before. I only wanted to get involved in a student org and I owned a camera, so it seemed like a logical decision.
My first assignment was uneventful. I took a photo of Fulbright Hall because I wanted something simple. For the first few months, I never opted to take a photo of any person, fearing that I would inevitably make them look bad. It took me a while to build my confidence up enough to the point that I could even attend an event, which is where I found the Student Association.
Those meetings became my niche, and I started to attend every single one I could. As a photographer, it was good practice, but it also made me feel so much more connected to the GW community as a student. I finally understood my school and knew what was actually happening to students and the policies that affected me.
From there, I just wanted to learn more about GW and photography.
I started to gain skills by just taking as many assignments as I could. The more I took, the more I felt involved and the more I wanted to continue on, and I gained so much more as a result. Naturally, when a staff position opened up I jumped at the opportunity, even though it would mean being an editor during the virtual year.
I regretted it almost instantly.
A week in, I wanted to quit. For a year, I ran around my house to find some new background to take a nice setup for my laptop. It made me not want to continue photographing for The Hatchet because it started to become unenjoyable. But I learned a lot.
Taking the more boring assignments pays off in big ways. I got better as a photographer for one, but I also learned so much from just sitting in on hourslong meetings and speaker events I would not have opted to attend. I continued to understand more about how the University works, and it made campus not seem so far away.
This past year has pushed me in a way I never thought imaginable. I have hundreds of published photos, an opportunity I would not have had elsewhere, and I found a great sense of accomplishment and community along the way.
The pride I now have in my work is unmatched. I never liked my early photos and never could have imagined that I would take any of the more important photos we publish. Yet, one of my last assignments was taking a photo of President Wrighton and his dog, Spike, and that’s pretty cool.
One of the first things I was told when I joined The Hatchet was that you will get out of it as much as you put into it. I now understand why. I put a lot of my college experience into this paper and I got out a new hobby and skill, a better understanding of journalism and a great community on campus. I will always be grateful for all I have learned and will forever look back with such fondness despite the many early Sunday mornings and the constantly hectic schedule.
Of course, I would not have been able to do any of this without the truly wonderful and talented people who are on staff. From past editors to current, the sense of knowledge and joy you get to experience from working closely with a group of like-minded individuals makes all of the late nights and boring events worth it.
So, to all the people who helped me strive to be my best on this paper, thank you.
Grace: Oh Grace Miller, where do I begin. You are such a fun person to be around and I am so happy that I now get to call you my friend. You always make late nights in the townhouse so much more enjoyable by getting into silly antics with me. From creating hats to climbing into suitcases or hearing about your wild yet somehow fitting opinions on fruit personas, I have been so glad to have you be my basement buddy all year long. Your dedication to design and the paper is so inspiring and I am always in awe of your many talents. I know that you will excel in whatever you do in life because you have such a beautiful, kind, passionate soul. Thank you for putting up with me all year and listening to all of my life drama. I will miss you dearly next year as you are off in London and I cant wait to see you in the Spring. Long live the Grace-ment.
Danielle: I am so glad that I have met you. You bring constant smiles to my life whether it’s hearing your stories or just editing near you. It has been such a joy to see you become the amazing editor that you are. From being so unsure of all the steps in the beginning to now being so on it that I do not even have to text you; I am so proud of your growth. You are such a beautiful and kind person and I am constantly amazed by your photography skills and the care you put into every assignment. I am so grateful to call you my friend and I will always cherish the time I got to spend with you on assignments and outside of the townhouse. Thank you for all you have done and I can not wait to see what you do personally with your work and with the featured section next year.
Lia: You are truly such a wonderful EIC, leader and person. It is by no means an easy job and you continuously helped carry this paper to its best week after week. You have such a profound sense of motivation and optimism that makes people want to continue on and push forward, which is something so important in a student paper. Seeing you continuously maintain a positive attitude even when things look bleak makes me and many others want to continue to strive for our very best, and that has been a huge reason we have been so successful all year. Your sarcasm is so top tier that I may never fully understand when you are joking, but I am so glad to have gotten to know you more. I cannot thank you enough for always being there to support me and the photo team and am so excited to see and follow all that you achieve.
Zach S: It’s strange to think you were one of the first people I meet at GW and it took us four years to actually know each other, but I am glad we got the opportunity. You are such a talented individual and I will forever be in awe of how much care and the time you put into this paper. Your knowledge of this school is something no one else will ever have and it’s so impressive. I do not know what I would have done with your help this year because you somehow can get anything done no matter how unreasonable or outlandish the request. From the coding to keeping the basement amused with your superb stalking skills, you helped make this paper something special. I can’t wait to follow your career after graduation. Hopefully now whenever you text me I will not be in panic mode.
Jared: One of the first people I had to work closely with when I joined and yet I only ever talked to you through text for a year. You somehow put up with me as your photo editor, despite all my dumb questions, but I appreciated you always being on top of everything and never leaving me out to struggle on Sundays. You care so deeply about this paper in every section and through every tradition, no matter how small. Every week you come in with a smile and help everyone with all the questions they throw at you with ease. Thank you for re-writing all of my many passive sentences. You are an invaluable member of the paper not only because you are such a talented journalist, but you are the true Hatchet Historian. I can’t wait to read what you write in the future.
Jarrod: From seeing you just start out as a metro editor to becoming the EIC for the next volume is so exciting. Despite the stress of your job, you somehow always maintain a positive attitude every week. You also always manage to make everyone smile on Sundays with your love of pretzels and out-of-context one-liners. You care so much about each story you work on and edit that it’s easy to see you will do a fantastic job next year. The passion and dedication you have are truly a testament to what a wonderful journalist you will become and I cannot wait to see what you do with the next volume.
Team Photo: From both Volumes 117 and 118, the photo team being made up of such amazing women has been a constant inspiration. I am so thankful to have worked with all of you. Auden: You are simply an incredible soul and I cannot wait to see what you do with the section next year! You stepped up at a time when we needed you and within two months you agreed to step into such a larger role, and I am so happy you did. I am so proud of the editor you have become and I wish you luck! Camille and Sydney: You are both such amazing photographers and I thoroughly enjoy being able to see both of you work on a consistent basis. I can’t wait to follow your careers and look at some of the amazing projects you will both inevitably be a part of. Sophia Y: I have relied on you so much when it comes to taking photos, and always being able and willing to help has been such a relief. It was so great to see your growth. Lillian and Arielle: I miss you both dearly and cannot thank you enough for all of the encouragement and help you have given me throughout my years working for you.
Jaden: I am so glad that I have gotten to know you this year. Week after week, you consistently maintain a positive attitude even when you have every reason to not. You have one of the more difficult and nitpicky jobs and you still somehow manage it all. Your care and passion for commas, dashes, curly quotes and game ~stanzas~ are something I may never understand but it’s something truly fun to hear. Thank you for the many food runs and enduring an extra block of walking with the rats to get Grace and me home. Your passionate rants and humor make being stuck in the basement from midafternoon till early morning more enjoyable.
Isabella: It has been such a joy getting to know you this past year. Your dedication, patience and design talent are simply amazing. You also have such a detail-oriented job and yet you do it with such ease and contentment, even on nights when you could have left hours ago. Being able to suffer with you through all the late nights and the many CVS runs is always a joy and I am so glad I get to call you a friend. Thank you for putting up with all of my life drama. I am so excited to see the work you produce next year as design editor!
Nick A: You are so incredibly talented. The care you put into your graphics and your attention to detail is truly outstanding. You are such a great friend and you always are able to keep me level-headed in the basement most nights. Your rants are unmatched and I will miss being able to see you every week, but I am so excited for you and cannot wait to see all of your beautiful designs in the future.
Lauren: Whenever I see you, you are always smiling, even when you have every reason to not be. I am constantly amazed by your dedication and consistency to this paper. Your section is extremely difficult and you handle it amazingly. Your knowledge of this school’s government is something to be proud of. It’s not easy to understand and even though I have been to countless meetings, I still don’t think I’d be able to fully get it without you explaining it to me. I am so happy that we happened to sit next to each other in Math and Politics and so glad I got to suffer alongside you most Monday nights. I hope you get to relax a bit more next year because you deserve it!
Isha: Admin queen. Your knowledge of this school is truly something special. You always manage to write every story with such clarity, despite it being a confusing and hectic beat. It’s a testament to how much passion you have behind all of your reporting and what a talented journalist you are. Those fruit videos really got me through that one day, and I am so glad that I have gotten to know you through the paper and wish you all the best in years to come. I have no doubt that you will do a truly wonderful job as managing editor next year, and I hope you get to fully become the weatherman you strive to be.
Nick P and Zach B: Having the opportunity to get to know you both more these last few weeks has been such a joy. You both bring so much positivity wherever you go and your journalism skills are phenomenal. The dedication you have to your current positions and the care you put into your reporting clearly show how well you will both do next year. I cannot wait to see what you bring to the news section next year as co-SNEs. I hope you have fun with it!
Amanda and Thais: Video queens! Your section is so small and you two carry it like champs. Your videos are always so amazing and despite your workload, you two are always so happy to be editing and capturing footage. I hope you are able to fully expand the section next year to all you dream of it to be.
Anna and Sidney: It has been so amazing to get to know both of you this past year through The Hatchet and class! You are both so talented and such fun people to be around and I am so glad to now call you both friends.
Rachel, Jordyn and Krishna: It was so great to see you all grow as photographers throughout the year. I know you will all do great things next year and I wish you all the best.
My friends and family: Thank you for putting up with me and my busy schedule. You have all heard the “Sorry, I can’t. I have Hatchet” line way too many times, and yet even if I have to kick you out of the kitchen or reschedule on you last minute, you all have always been more than willing to comply in my work. I am truly grateful for it.