Goodbye old friend: outgoing Editor-in-Chief bids farewell


Molly Parks ’24 is the outgoing 113th Editor-in-Chief of The Flat Hat. With a bittersweet mix of emotions and many espresso shots as her fuel, she pens this farewell piece to the organization and the people she loves the most at the College of William and Mary. Please bear with any dry humor that does not land or sentimental rambles. 

The views expressed in the article are the author’s own.

In the middle of each fall semester at the College of William and Mary, a very small group of students has one very important question to ruminate on. That group is the (typically) junior class of staff members on The Flat Hat and that question is: Do I want to be the next Editor-in-Chief of this newspaper?

In the second week of November 2022, I swiped my TribeCard to get into the Sadler Center dining hall for my DIY pressed turkey wrap that I perfected in my first two years at the College. As I said thank you to the dining hall worker standing behind the register, I noticed her name tag printed with the name “MELANIE.” 

Behind the register stood a woman who fearlessly shared with The Flat Hat her perspective that dining workers at the College need more affordable health care coverage and increased wages. Behind the register stood a woman who, in our interview for my article titled “William and Mary Dining Workers win their Union with Sodexo,” demonstrated the deep importance of worker solidarity. Behind the register stood a woman whose interview and gratitude for The Flat Hat coverage of the dining workers’ unionization affirmed to me the deep importance of independent student journalism. 

That day, my 10 minute conversation with Melanie, a dining employee at the College for over 20 years, where we talked about our interview, the publication of the article and how we had each been since we last spoke, was my pin-point “Why EiC” moment. It was in this conversation that I comprehended the ability The Flat Hat has to affect individual people’s lives, to document the history of this campus, to tell the grassroots stories of the real changemakers at the College. It was in this conversation that I knew I wanted to devote the rest of my college career to helping The Flat Hat realize this ability to the fullest extent. 

In my four years on this beautiful campus, I have come to believe the College’s foundation is not about the bricks of the Wren building. It is not about the Crim Dell. It is not about the board of visitors meetings. This College’s foundation is the people who have studied, labored, taught and lived on this campus. It is, in my opinion, the job of The Flat Hat to archive the lived stories and diverse experiences of all of these people. 

Luckily for this school, The Flat Hat honestly has just the perfect cast of characters to coordinate this effort. I would have to respectfully disagree with the brave soul on Yik Yak who anonymously, ever-so eloquently put in 2022, “u work for flathat ur a fugly twamp.” This staff — past, present and future — is filled with the most hardworking, down to earth and inspiring people at the College. I have been lucky enough to work alongside a group of friends who have kept me hopeful through some of the hardest times in College (i.e. The Flat Hat website crash of Friday, Nov. 3). 

As I say farewell to the organization that has made my college decision worth it, I leave knowing that this paper is bound to only progress in the hands of incoming Editor-in-Chief Anna Arnsberger ’25. Anna is genuinely one of the best writers this paper has seen in a long time. One of the most rewarding experiences I have had on The Flat Hat was co-writing the “Finding Community Amidst Conflict” article with her. I am so inspired by the diligence and care Anna brings to every decision she makes. I envy the people who get to work with her in the future, as she naturally motivates everyone she works alongside to be a more compassionate, clever and efficient journalist. I cannot wait to see all that she does with this organization and cheer her on from afar.

Anna’s executive team is made up of Ethan Qin ’26 as managing editor, Agavni Mehrabi ’26 as executive editor, Ryan Goodman ’25 as digital media editor and Sarah Devendorf ’25 and Emma Henry ’25 as Co-Operations Coordinators. This group is full of some of the most passionate, hardest working people on campus and will make an excellent exec team. 

Ethan will bring his approachable energy and confident creativity to news, sports and data. He has a unique ability to make anyone around him laugh using as few words as possible and I am lucky to call him one of my good friends. Agavni is someone everyone on this campus should meet, simply because of her sheer ability to make you feel heard and appreciated. This aspect will translate perfectly into her role as executive editor as she makes her editors and interviewees feel at home. Ryan will bring his inviting humor and deep experience to the digital media sections, strengthening the photos, videos, socials and graphics sections while continuing Adam Jutt’s ’25 progress with the podcast. I could not think of a better duo to lead the Intern Program than Sarah and Emma. As two people who I often find myself looking up to, Sarah and Emma will be the best role models to lead incoming Flat Hatters in their first semester as student journalists. 

Leading the news team will be editors Peerawut Ruangsawasdi ’26, Charlotte Castle ’27 and Mona Garimella ’27. With a blend of Peerawut’s experience and Charlotte and Mona’s eagerness and fresh perspectives, this news team has already begun to excel. Sports editors Max Grill ’26 and Maddie Mohamadi ’27 are two of the most skilled and confident early leaders on staff and I know there will be much good to expect from sports this year with them at the helm. Max, I am curious to see if Anna will now let “cooking” slide as an appropriate verb in sports pieces. For Data, we have Abhayprad Jha ’26 and Lisa Coleman ’25 leading the charge. These two have demonstrated nothing but exceptional writing ability and journalism skills. I am confident that their innovative ideas will help the data section prosper even more than it is already.

Miles Mortimer ’25 and Megan Rudacille ’27 will be the 2024 variety editors. I am always deeply impressed by Miles’s writing and compassion and cannot wait to see all he accomplishes in his second year in this role. Megan has proved herself invaluable to the paper as an intern and will undoubtedly continue to showcase this at an editor level. Returning to the opinions editors roles because they have not had enough of begging for new writers and crafting their own op-eds are Avi Joshi ’26 and Mollie Shiflett ’26. As two of the strongest editors from last staff who each bring the best vibes and quickest pages, respectively, Avi and Mollie will absolutely crush it in their second year of editing opinions, playing The Weeknd during prod night and drinking Chick-fil-a milkshakes.

Leading the videos team is the one and only Taiga Lewis ’26. There are too many good things to say about Taiga so I will just leave it at his video skills and aptitude for social event planning speak for themselves. The ever-so kind Karis Koutsourelakis ’26 will be stepping into her second year as Social Media editor, showcasing her knack for graphics and content production. Juliana Gomien ’26, Laura Holt ’25 and Catherine Storke ’26 will all be stepping up to the plate as the new photos, podcast and graphics editors, respectively, and I know all three of them will hit it out of the park. 

There are four roles on The Flat Hat staff that you don’t frequently or ever see in by-lines, but whose impact on the paper is indispensable: the copy chief, webmaster, business manager and ombudsman. Crystal Wang ’25, who is thankfully returning as copy chief, is arguably the backbone of this paper. Her humor and our conversations about English literature have kept me grounded in some very difficult moments as EiC. When you talk about people who have kept me grounded as EiC, two positions immediately come to mind: webmaster and ombudsman. Matthew Berthoud ’25, who revived the Flat Hat website after the aforementioned crash of Friday, Nov. 3, will fortunately be returning as webmaster. Anna, look forward to Matthew’s long, yet somehow highly entertaining voice memos when the inevitable day of website troubles comes. Anna Saal ’26 will be stepping in as ombudsman and I have no doubt that she will be able to gracefully fill the very big shoes of her predecessor Sarah. Conor Downey ’25 will also be returning to his position of business manager, and I have no doubt that he will continue to excel in making The Flat Hat lots of ad revenue. 

To The Flat Hat Staff of 2024, soak up every moment you get as a part of this newspaper. You will not get nearly enough sleep or recognition for your hard work and there will be days when you ask yourself “why the hell am I doing this for free?” — trust me, I have had my fair share of them. But, if you persevere and lean into the community around you, you will walk away with not only a resounding belief in the importance of student journalism and free speech, but also some of the most meaningful friendships at the College. Let me take this moment to shoutout the outgoing senior class of The Flat Hat who has truly made my experience at the College worthwhile. 

Vivian Hoang ’24, thanks for everything — thanks for calling me out when I need to be humbled about how much I talk about Philadelphia, thanks for writing the easiest articles to edit, thanks for always answering my late night text messages and knowing me well enough to not take it personally when I forget to respond. I have learned so much by simply being Vivian’s friend, and I am so excited to see where her life takes her post-grad. Thanks for being my closest confidant on staff, I can’t express how much Vivian has helped me grow as EiC and as a person.

Jake Forbes ’24 may have been my managing editor for the past year, but unofficially, he held a much more sentimental role. Jake waited for me to finish my work after every single production night (sometimes close to 3am) and would drive me home so I would not have to walk alone. Sometimes those car rides were filled with laughter, some were filled with silence, some were filled with bickering and others even featured tears. These car rides will always be among my favorite memories in college and I hope to have many more moments like this after graduation (even if you are selling your soul to the corporate world). Jake is one of the most special people I’ve met and knows how to always help people stay hopeful in the darkest of times.

Anu Desai ’23 has made everyone on The Flat Hat staff think more deeply and care about each other more authentically. Anu is an incredible copy editor and an even better friend. I know that after graduating this past fall, Anu has such a bright future ahead. 

Chris Schneider ’24 has cultivated a booming Flat Hat videos department and should be so proud of her impact on this newspaper. She also makes the best egg drop soup and crispy brussel sprouts I have ever had (those at Flat Hat Friendsgiving can indeed corroborate this).

Joseph Wehmeyer ’24 made a name for himself as one of the most skilled and reliable writers for news throughout 2023. Stepping in as an intern in the Fall of 2022 as a Junior, Joe proved that to make an impact, it doesn’t matter when you join your college newspaper, it only matters how hard you work. 

Ellie Kurlander ’24 at many points may have single handedly saved Flat Hat Magazine. She also wrote one of my favorite opinion pieces, “Give me sidewalks or give me death!” which I highly recommend reading. Shradha Dinesh ’24 has also been an excellent writer for our data team, as associate editor this past year. Named as one of ProPublica’s 2023 emerging reporters, she is going to do amazing things in and for the field of journalism.

In my Aug. 30, 2023 opinion “A note on student journalism,” I wrote that “our freethinking, autonomous student newspaper thrives with the consistent unwavering support of its readers.” If you have persisted to read through all of my personal staff shoutouts, I implore you to refer this issue of The Flat Hat to a friend. The Flat Hat is built of a staff who sticks around because they each have their own personal “Melanie moments,” if you will. 

Flat Hat staff is not paid, we receive no tangible compensation for what we do. Our reward for the hours, days, weeks we put into this job comes from the affirmations within ourselves, from others on staff and from our readership. We cherish our feedback from readers, because even if it is not always positive, it makes us stronger journalists. Share your thoughts, give us a “Melanie moment,” so we can become better writers, reporters and people.

To put it nicely, we don’t always have the best relationship with the powers that be on campus because we give light to the oftentimes sobering truths about the College. We don’t work for the board of visitors, we’re not here to blindly paint a pretty picture of administration, we’re here to hold the powers that be accountable for their actions. This is a staff of fearless reporters who constantly work to uncover and investigate the authentic realities of what it means to be a student, a worker, a professor, a community member at the College. For the past four years, I was lucky enough to call this staff home. For the past year, I had the privilege and honor to select and lead this staff, whom I now consider as close as family. It is with a grateful heart and a little more sleep under my belt that I sign off for one last time…

Stabilitas et fides,



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here