Tara Suter: Falling down is just the beginning

Media Credit: Rachel Schwartz | 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.

I’m a sucker for sappy endings. And oversharing.

When I joined The Hatchet my freshman year at GW, I was a pretty bold 18 year old. I had the feeling that I could conquer anything.

To be honest, I’ve learned a lot over my four years in D.C. And one of those things is that it’s OK to lose or mess up. I struggled a lot my freshman year, from friendships that didn’t stick, to spending a lot of my GWorld money on overpriced coffee, to getting a C+ in my astronomy class (who knew it involved physics?). Oh yeah, and I left to go home to the Seattle suburbs midway through my second semester that year because of a global pandemic. So fun.

The absolute cherry on top of all of that misery was the fact I could not get a story published as a reporter on the student life beat at The Hatchet. And after I left for home due to the pandemic, I somewhat gave up on my career at The Hatchet.

Giving credit where credit is due, my mother pushed me at the beginning of my sophomore year to take up writing for The Hatchet again. I remember my first story that actually got published, which was completely rewritten by my lovely editor Tiffany Garcia (I love you Tiffany). But I did reporting on that story, I did some metaphorical legwork.

One of my favorite stories I’ve ever worked on came to fruition a few weeks later. I wrote about students who were living or had family living on the West Coast due to the pandemic and also dealing with the wildfires raging up and down the coast in September 2020. It felt like I told a story that needed to be told, especially because so many people at this school come from the East Coast and sometimes don’t understand the scale of how these fires impact West Coasters’ lives.

I continued to be dragged into the inner workings of this paper as I decided to take up covering a few Student Association meetings later in my sophomore year, meeting Lauren Sforza as she began her transition into the student government editor. I could tell she was sweet, funny and welcoming, even over Zoom. At this time, I also connected with incoming Metro Editor Zach Blackburn over social media because we were both members of the cult known as GW Twitter. The ropes that tied me to The Hatchet became tighter as I earned staff writer status at the end of that year.

At the beginning of junior year, I began attending SA meetings in person and spending long Monday nights in the townhouse with Lauren and my newfound friend Henry Huvos. We were often delirious from exhaustion, but we pumped out great-quality blogs that now represent a large share of my bylines in The Hatchet archives.

Second semester, I stepped into the role of a fact-checker for the paper. It was often grueling and frustrating work for me, and I was known for my intense scrutiny when it came to facts, sometimes holding up the rest of Wednesday or Sunday production (I’m sorry to everyone affected by my facts slowness, I was trying my best and only wanted to make sure we didn’t get anything wrong).

It was, however, rewarding work which prepared me well for my current (and now final role) as an events editor. I love writing and editing stories about topics beyond just what’s happening at GW, and my work as events editor allowed me to do so. My beat covered topics ranging from LGBTQ+ health to future NASA missions to the moon, and who’s to say that’s not cool?

Not to be that person, but if a movie were to be made about my life, The Hatchet would be a central part of my character development. And Taylor Swift would write songs for the soundtrack, no doubt about it. If you didn’t already know from my social media posts or follow me on Spotify – I’m a huge Swiftie.

I’ve had one of the weirdest paths on this newspaper. This year, I was a senior among sophomores and juniors on our news team. But in some ways, I think I have one of the best stories of growth here at The Hatchet. Despite my many, many slip-ups, sleepless nights screaming in frustration at our transcription service for not picking up a word in a juicy quote, my tedious fact-checking that would bother my superiors and other not-so-great times being a part of this newspaper, I trudged my way into that townhouse when I needed to be there to get work done.

I’ll probably bawl my eyes out on my last day at the townhouse, a place I have loved and hated at the same time. A place that made me feel like I had a home on campus after being away from it for over a year. A bastion of top-notch student journalism. I love the passion us Hatchet members have for this paper and wouldn’t trade my experience for the world.

It’s OK to lose. Because maybe winning isn’t what’ll lead you to greatness. And as I head out into this great unknown of post-undergraduate life, I’m excited to face down whatever challenges come my way. And a good portion of that excitement comes from my trials and tribulations at 609 21st Street NW, Washington D.C. To be honest, I’m bawling my eyes out right now.

“Combat,” Taylor Swift once said. “I’m ready for combat.”

To all of the fellow Hatcheteers I’ve loved:

Ishani: Roomie number one! You saw me breakdown and down and down again this year and every time you were always there for a pick-me-up. I’m sorry about the late-night pizzas I ordered. Thanks for your patience and kindness when I needed it the most. You were also one of the first Hatchet people I met with a passion as big as mine for “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” a topic I literally wrote my college essay on.

Amanda: You are such a fun and brilliant spark, producing and editing amazing and unmatched video projects for this paper. I loved having class with you this year and getting to know you better.

Ethan: You can write the heck out of a piece, and you’re one of the best writers I’ve ever seen. Keep impressing others with your pen game.

Sarah: My (former) Alpha Phi Omega brother. You’re a rockstar who was so dedicated to your role on The Hatchet, and I’ve loved the work you’ve put into “What’s New Buff and Blue.”

Annie: You remind me of a younger version of myself or you’re like the younger sister I never had. It’s refreshing how unapologetically “you” you are and I will definitely keep tabs on where you go in the future. You have a “Fearless” energy to you.

Sejal: You guided the news podcast through a lot this year, but I’m so happy to see how you’ve evolved in your time here. You’re a tough one, keep grinding.

Nuria: You are a literal badass. The amount of work you did for the sports section to make sure everything comes together for each prodo day is insane. I’m so impressed with you and your drive to put out the best possible work, which I’ve definitely seen as your roommate this year. Please get some sleep ASAP.

Jarrod: Wow. Look how far we’ve come. You, me, Lauren and Clara all are now old people. I remember we worked on a story that later got killed my freshman year together and I was very chicken about going up to random people to source, and you got your work done in a flash. You were bold, smart and I was jealous of your bravery. Thanks for hearing me out when I was slightly losing it in late spring of last year. I’m glad you ran the ship this year and led this paper into a healthier, more accountable era which I appreciate deeply.

Clara: Another one of Lizzie’s kids. You are such a sweet and thoughtful person, and that comes through in your writing. The culture section has really blossomed under your leadership and I love talking to you about random pop culture topics like Glee or Taylor Swift.

Julia: You’re such a cool person in general, but I also deeply enjoyed reading your stories this year, from your review of “Midnights” to the “Outer Banks” interview you did with Jarrod. I loved meeting you this year.

Jaden: I loved getting to know you more this year. You really care about your work and my day always picks up when I hear your hearty laugh. I hope you try the kickboxing class next year.

Abby: I love seeing you around campus because you say hi to me with the biggest smile. I also loved working with you and Lauren as part of the student life beat last year and you always created a fun and kind atmosphere during our meetings.

Nicholas: The graphics god. One of my favorite memories with you is critiquing “Drag Race” runways and being shocked at the judges’ actual choices for the top and bottom placements of the week. All that you do, you put your whole soul into and it’s impressive.

News Team:

Zach: We met via Twitter my sophomore year, and I loved the fact there was someone else on this paper who was just as online as me. Your Tweets always make me crack up (even when you should’ve been editing my stories). I remember the first time we met and we walked around D.C. in 90-degree weather, and you kept trying to talk to some cops on the street about what they were working on. I kind of thought you were crazy then, and I still do. Keep breaking things in the townhouse for me and keep that insane work ethic going. I don’t know how you do it.

Nick: #westcoastbestcoast and I mean it. You work so hard and are so passionate about what you do, and I really appreciate it. I love our conversations about what we miss at home, and you are so right about Dick’s supremacy.

Erika: My Gemini twin. I loved bonding over the frustrations of working on the student government beat. I promise never to spoil any episode of “Succession” for you and am so excited to see you take over the metro beat.

Sophia: The first non-Volume 118 member of the Volume 119 news team I got to know well. You always write the most interesting stories (I’m a big fan of the health and research beat) and I’ve loved watching you grow.

Grace: I’ve loved getting to know you especially over the last semester. You’re so funny and cool and incredibly hardworking. You care about your craft and it really shows. You’ll make a great SNE. Keep being a guiding light in the townhouse and continue to promote the Pacific Northwest agenda. I see bountiful amounts of cream cheese on your plasticy-Starbucks bagels in your future.

Nikki: One of the most thoughtful and caring journalists I’ve ever met. You really pay attention to the human aspects of stories that some people might miss, and that makes them 10 times better than they would be without you. I’m so pumped to see what you do next.

Faith: From covering student protests with you to walking by you at the SMPA front desk constantly, getting to know you has been such a joy and you’re such a warm and diligent person and you bring that to your stories every time.

Eóighan: My other Gemini twin. Literally one of the funniest people I have ever met. You light up every room you walk into and bring the energy up when needed. Also, so proud of you for your growth throughout the year, I remember when you took a blog from me and I literally thought it was one of the best drafts I had ever seen from a reporter.

Ianne: You’re an amazing writer and journalist alongside your amazing dance skills. I don’t know how you balanced Hatchet and First Ladies’ work, but you did it and that is incredibly impressive. Thank you for being my support on one of my hardest stories this year.

Cade: You took to the events editor role so quickly, I was highly impressed. You’re going to do so great and I’m glad you’re keeping the musical trend I started this year in your reporter emails.

Former Hatchet editors:

Lauren: Student life 4 life. You were the first person I really connected with at The Hatchet, bonding over our mutual love for Jack Antonoff and the state of New Jersey. You kept me sane when I was losing my mind over fact-checks or frustrations with sources. I loved just getting coffee with you or running into you in the University Student Center on a Thursday. Your enthusiasm for this paper inspired me so much. Keep doing what you do.

Henry: You always put your head down and got stuff done, which is a quality not many people have. You have a lot of grit and I wouldn’t change dragging you into this little cult for the world. You’re one of the few people who really get me, and I see you doing great things in your future. Keep being Henry Huvos, the introspective film critic and fan of the Red Sox. I love you so much.

Isha: You are, and will always be, a bright light in every room you step into. You radiate such an energy and passion for your work that is unmatched, and I’m waiting with baited breath to see what you do next. You made The Hatchet a home for me and so many other people, and I always miss our bets on when Jesse would end class last year.

Lizzie: I have the honor of being part of the legendary club of Lizzie’s kids, featuring Clara, Jarrod and Lauren, a group of intrepid, creative and inspiring journalists who have shaped this paper for the better, and it began with you. Sorry for my first few terrible drafts, but thank you for putting a group of such amazing writers and future editors together.

Tiffany: I miss you so much! You were a rock for me during the pandemic and some of the stories I worked on with you are my favorite bylines of mine for this paper. Thanks for believing in me.


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