Former editor-in-chief bids farewell

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GRAPHIC BY KAYLA PAYNE / THE FLAT HAT

I remember the first time I stepped foot in the basement of Campus Center, en route to The Flat Hat office. The lights were flickering, voices echoed in the hall and there was an old bristly Christmas tree in the corner of the office with a Halloween mask tied to it like a star. I was confused but intrigued. I didn’t know it then, but this office and the people in it would come to define my time at the College of William and Mary and beyond.

Soon after, I was admitted to the intern program and began attending news-writing sessions and receiving lessons on the ethics of journalism. I also found myself spending late Monday nights in the office in the company of new and exciting friends with a passion for journalism that lit a spark in me. I learned how to write a news story — my first one was so horrifically bad they almost couldn’t print it — but my news editor mentors Sarah Smith ‘19 and Emily Chaumont ‘18 walked me through it. They taught me everything from how to correctly use an em dash to what a nutgraf is to how to cover a BOV meeting. In the process, I also learned what the best sandwich from Marketplace is, how to support a friend in crisis and what classes to avoid if you need to be in the Flat Hat office until 4 a.m. on Monday nights. I learned the basics of photojournalism and professionalism from the digital media prowess of Kayla Sharpe ‘17, and then later, how to keep the website from dying from the never-ending support of Jack Bowden ‘19. Lauren Bavis ‘19, Rachel Wilmans ‘19 and Kate Sandberg ‘19 copy-edited our articles until they were read through and through, and then cheerily sent them back to us. They held us to high standards until the last second they were in the office. Sam Dreith ‘18 inspired light and positivity in the office, Heather Baier ‘20 brought a love of data, Leonor Grave ‘20 inspired us all to be better and work harder and never ever give up until the last possible second. Madeline Monroe ‘19 was a beacon of stability and spirit and taught me to not take myself so seriously and have a White Russian every now and then. Brendan Doyle ‘20 has the strength of many well-formed, gracious, dedicated people in one very tall body, and I have been incredibly lucky to have him as my executive editor. Maggie More ‘20 has the energy of many people in one, and her creativity and always sunny outlook have inspired the rest of the office. I have been impacted by so many people who have already left this office or will do so very soon. They are the reason that I was elected Editor-in-Chief, and the harbingers of the career in journalism I hope to have someday.

This paper could not run as smoothly as it does without the support of the College and all the lovely people who work for it.

I want to especially thank Brian Whitson, Suzanne Clavet, Erin Zagursky, Anne Arsenau and Chelsea Spady for answering floods of emails, supporting our new ideas and always being there when we need a helping hand.

Handing over this paper to the new staff of editors tonight is bittersweet. I have endured countless sleepless nights (made up by daytime naps on the office couches), 40-hour work weeks equivalent to a full-time job and more angry emails than I can count. I ran for Editor-in-Chief because of my passion for this paper, and I was happy to endure every second of the trials it threw at me. However, I am also hopeful for a future in which the Flat Hat leadership does not have to weather so many storms. As I move forward and leave this paper behind, my wish is that the people who throw their lives and souls into producing the best content possible for this campus be recognized as the superstars they are. I applaud all the students at the College for holding our student press to the highest standards possible and hope they continue to do so — I just also hope that the students of the student press are lauded for their efforts. Because I know these efforts are never ending.

Moving forward, I am so pleased to be able to hand the mantle of Editor-in-Chief off to my friend and previous managing editor Ethan Brown ‘21. I know that he will be the fearless leader this paper needs. He embodies many qualities I admire. He is fastidious yet flexible, completely dedicated yet makes everything look so easy. My faith in the success of his tenure is unshakeable — I know he will lead with the grace and maturity I have seen from him throughout this past year.

Taking on the newly minted job of Magazine Editor-in-Chief is Gavin Aquin-Hernández ‘22. I have seen him grow from intern to sports editor to one of the most committed and knowledgeable editors this paper is lucky to have, and I am lucky to have him as a friend. I am so excited to see what he does with my brainchild of the magazine. I know that he will inspire creativity and hard work in the people he leads on this endeavor. Furthermore, I am eager to see what Gavin accomplishes throughout the rest of his college career and after his graduation — I know it will be stupendous.

Our new managing and executive editors Emma Ford ‘22 and Adithi Ramakrishnan ‘22 will take on the reigns of their new roles with vigor and purpose; I have been continually impressed with their efforts to improve our reporting over the past year and I am sure it will continue. Claire Hogan ‘22 will be taking over as digital media editor, and she has already made strides to improve our digital reporting. Her calm and clarity compounded with incredible ambition is a dynamic combination that will continue to impress me. The wonderful and uplifting Leslie Davis ‘21 will be creating her own path on staff and trailblazing the way as data editor. Her efforts have already been felt on staff and will strengthen our writing and reporting. I am impatient to see Anna Boustany ‘21 take on the role of operations coordinator with energy and aplomb; I predict that we will have the best yet intern program yet.

The new news team of Charles Coleman ‘22, Carmen Honker ‘21 and Lulu Dawes ‘23 is a powerful one. Their coverage of Williamsburg events and happenings has already been superb, and I look forward to reading their articles and seeing their page design as the year progresses. Zoe Beardsley ‘22 and Nathan Seidel ‘22 will continually impress me with their coverage of the many Tribe sports events, no matter how disappointing the results. Gavin and Matthew Kortan ‘22 will lead the way with cultural and club reporting as new variety editors, a role I am confident they both will take on with ease. Chloe Folmar ‘22 will be reprising her role as opinions editor along with Alyssa Slovin ‘22 I know that they both will work hard to represent the voice of the campus in the opinions section and represent a diverse set of opinions that will create conversation and interaction with our readership. Jamie Holt ‘22 will be reprising her role as photos editor with the same ambition and beautiful photographs she has shown this past year. Rebecca Klinger ‘22 will be stepping into the role of social media editor and making sure our content reaches the masses with finesse and ease. Last, but definitely not least, Lillian Parr ‘21, Lizzie Brown ‘22 and Cana Clark ‘22 will be ensuring no typos make it to print as copy chiefs; I know that they will work to make everyone’s writing better and leave funny editing comments to boot. I am sad to leave this paper but so happy to leave it in all these capable hands.

Email Nia Kitchin at

vmkitchin@email.wm.edu.