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The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Lia DeGroot: Thriving in chaos

Grace Hromin | Senior Photo Editor

If there’s any word that I would use to describe my past four years at The Hatchet, it would be chaotic.

The first story I took for The Hatchet was about a Capital Bikeshare station that was installed on the Mount Vernon Campus, where I lived my freshman year. I signed up to take the story on a Sunday afternoon and immediately started knocking on doors in my residence hall asking people if they had just two minutes for a quick interview. I was proud of the reporting I had done on such a quick turnaround, but when it was time to sit down to write the story, I was at a loss.

My editor texted me asking for a first draft and I hesitantly shared her on the measly 400 words I had pieced together from my work study computer. Her comments were harsh, but it wasn’t so bad. I met with her in what is now called the University Student Center, and she patiently went over edits with me.

After that, The Hatchet became my outlet. I quickly took on more stories about local politics, covering Advisory Neighborhood Commission meetings, approaching passersby to ask them what they thought of the city’s ban on certain red lights, following Ward 2’s dramatic D.C. Council race – no topic was too small or mundane to matter to the community. When I went through a breakup that fall, I took two stories that week to get my mind off of things.

My sophomore year came to an abrupt end halfway through the spring semester when the pandemic broke out, crushing my plans to get an internship in D.C. that summer and study abroad in Prague. Instead, I spent my junior year covering GW’s response to the pandemic, diving into the abundance of research GW was pumping out and getting to shed light on how the pandemic was affecting the mental health of professors, students and community members. When my community seemed to be upended, the one constant was that I would cover it all as it unfolded.

When I became editor in chief – a role I was elected to from my childhood bedroom – even more chaos ensued. Former University President Thomas LeBlanc resigned just a week after classes ended and I had to rally my newly appointed staff to put together a special issue of The Hatchet to unpack the news. I would spend the rest of the year sifting through The Hatchet’s finances and dealing with breaking news that cropped up at the most inconvenient times.

I could never expect what I would have to deal with each day, but as time went on, I learned that I preferred things that way. I learned that I thrive when I never quite know what’s going on, and luckily, GW is just the right spot for that. My time at The Hatchet and at GW has been a lot of things, but I can’t say that it’s been boring.

Grace Hromin | Senior Photo Editor

Here’s what I’ve come to accept – The Hatchet is never going to be perfect. There was never going to be enough hours in the day to follow through on all my ideas for the paper and there was no way I was going to make absolutely everyone happy with my decisions. I’ve spent much of the past year frustrated with those facts and much of the past year realizing that that’s the only way things can move forward. What I’ve learned at The Hatchet and what I will take with me for the rest of my life is that there is truly only so much I can control – it’s best to submit to the chaos and take things day by day.

This paper is earnest and scrappy and tired but it’s going to be just fine.

Here’s to the people who’ve made the chaos worth it:

Current staff:

Zach: You have been the best managing editor/business manager/IT support/audience engagement director/senior consultant/friend I could have asked for. Running this paper alongside you has been an absolute blast. I seriously think I would have fallen over on day one if it wasn’t for you. Even the stressful parts you turned into a fun time. Each time I came to you overwhelmed with a problem your response was always the same – “We’ll figure it out” – and most of the time we did. Thank you for listening to me complain every single day and for sitting on the phone with me for hours while I worked through decisions. Thank you for laughing at the stressful parts of this job. There’s a part of me that’s convinced that the two of us could do anything if we put our minds to it. It’s no secret you’re gonna do big things, just promise you’ll check in every once in a while?

Jared: You have been such an anchor for me and for the paper as a whole this past volume. I know we’ve joked about keeping you as Hatchet historian, but after five long years you’ve dedicated to The Hatchet you’ve brought a wealth of institutional knowledge to the paper that no one else could have. Thank you for stepping into whatever the paper needed from you this volume, whether that was stand-in copy editor, filing FixIts for the countless times the basement has flooded or helping ed-board understand the student court. Between being my senior news editor last volume and my ME this volume, you’ve had to deal with my attitude and my scattered brain more than most, but I am so grateful for the friendship we’ve formed from it all. I’ll never forget the countless hours we’ve spent dishing about staff in my office or poring over our video projects in the edit lab for our capstone class. I know you will be excellent in whatever post-grad life has for you and I can’t wait to see what you get up to.

Grace Hromin: You are seriously one of the kindest and most hardworking people I’ve ever met. I could always rely on you to get a last minute photo together or just be there to listen to me vent about whatever was holding up prodo that day. I know you’ll be great at whatever you do in life. I hope you can get some sleep and get back to a normal schedule in this next chapter of life.

Tiffany: I was so happy when you agreed to come on as MD this semester! I know we only worked together for a few months but the energy and joy you brought to the role was so refreshing. I always looked forward to our Sunday morning meetings and you were by far the best Jeopardy host anyone could have asked for. I know you will excel at whatever you do in life.

Hannah: I had a blast working with you during the fall semester. You planned a bomb conference, even though you unfortunately didn’t get to be there for it. Thank you for being a sounding board and just being there to talk about life. I know you’re doing awesome things at The Post these days!

Jarrod: I’ve had the pleasure of transitioning you into two of my former roles on The Hatchet, and I’m glad at least one of them got to be in person. The time and precision that you bring to every single story is unmatched, and I know that dedication will serve you well leading the paper next volume. Be good to your team and trust your instincts. Remember that you were elected to this role for a reason – I can’t wait to see what you do with the paper.

Zach Blackburn: You are reckless on Twitter but you’ve been such a joy to work with. Your chaotic energy reminds me of me when I was a sophomore. You’ve stepped up this past year on multiple occasions to cover some tough stories. Your obsession with transportation policy and the D.C. court systems are proof that you are fit to be a great SNE. Be a tough journalist, read the fine print and don’t get in too much trouble.

Nick Pasion: I first met you over Zoom for our SMPA mentorship meeting and I remember thinking how genuine you seemed, even virtually. I was thrilled to learn that you would join staff and I can’t be happier to know that you’ll be leading the news team next volume. You are a tough journalist who has never hesitated to go to great lengths to get the story right – even if it means purchasing at-home mold testing kits to do so. Keep that energy up in Vol. 119 and push your team to do the same – The Hatchet will be better for it.

Lauren: I think it’s safe to say that few people have spent the same amount of time in the townhouse as you have. Covering a beat as unpredictable and 24/7 as the Student Association isn’t for the faint of heart, but you did it with such compassion and care that brought our coverage to a whole new level. I was so happy to learn that you would be MD in the coming volume. I hope you can take a breather from all things student-government related for a bit, you deserve it.

Isha: It has been an absolute honor working with you. Whether you were inspecting the University’s HVAC units or unpacking the enigma that is shared governance, everything you’ve covered you’ve done with a precise care for how these stories get told. I couldn’t be happier to know that you’ll be running the show as ME next year. I know your ideas and your attention to details – however seemingly mundane – will make the paper better. Despite my objections, I do secretly hope to see more snow-themed coverage in the paper. I know you’ll do great at whatever life throws at you. Please stay in touch.

Abby: My birthday twin! Even only knowing you over Zoom when you were a Health and Science reporter, I knew that I wanted you to be student life editor. Your energy and your genuine kindness toward students is what has helped you excel at this role. I hope you have a blast in social this upcoming volume!

Dan: You were thrown into several different positions when you first came on staff but you took each of them in stride and have pumped some impactful news stories along the way. I’m thrilled to know that you’ll be taking on the administration beat next year. Be tough and have fun with it.

Ishani: You stepped up to be health and science editor when the paper needed you and for that I am so grateful. It’s been wonderful to watch you grow as a writer and editor this semester. Your grit and your ability to parse through research jargon is going to take you far in life.

Team Ops: Andrew: I’ll never forget coming into our first in-person ed-board meeting a bit worried that people were going to be awkward with each other after a year of virtual Hatchet operations, but you made everyone feel so comfortable with each other that by the end of the meeting you had made everyone gang up on me and started joking about framing me for a crime. Ops was the one section that intimidated me a bit to start editing, but I was so impressed with how you ran your section that it made my editing job so much easier. Thank you for advocating for your writers in budgeting meetings and for coming up with out of the box ideas that you put your own spin on. Shreeya: I’ve so enjoyed getting to edit your work this year. You have such a wonderful presence and I’ve truly appreciated how you approach each pitch when we’re deciding what to approve at budgeting each week. Each of your pieces you’ve written with such care and a distinctive voice that only you can deliver. I know you’ll do great things post-Hatchet and I can’t wait to see what they are.

Grace Hromin | Senior Photo Editor

Team Sports: Nuria: You’ve stepped up to cover the craziness that is GW Athletics and you put out some incredibly impactful stories this year. I couldn’t be happier to know that you’ll be running the show as sports editor next year. Your passion, drive and kindness are going to take you so far in life and I can’t wait to see what you do at The Hatchet and beyond. Remember to advocate for yourself – no one’s going to fight for you the way you will. Roman: Your thoughtfulness and attention to detail in your writing drove the sports section this year. I’ve greatly appreciated your energy and your willingness to cover every sport (although we now know you didn’t enjoy basketball). I know you’ll do great as a writer in the future – I can’t wait to see what you accomplish.

Team Photo: Danielle, Aduden, Sydney, Camille: You have done such great work this year that has truly brought our content to the next level. Whether it’s running off to cover breaking news at a moment’s notice or getting out into the city for a Halloween-themed photo essay you all brought your A-game and I could not have been happier to have you as my photo team!

Team Culture: Anna: You’ve brought so much fun to the Culture section this year. I’ve loved hearing your creative pitches each week and seeing new projects come together. I feel like all the time we’ve spent over-caffeinated in my office trying to figure out our data journalism homework deserves a nod here as well! I know you’re going to go so far in life – take it easy. Clara: It’s been a pleasure to watch your work grow this year as contrib and I can’t wait to see where you take the section as Culture editor next year! Keep coming up with great stories – I’ll be reading!

Team Video: Amanda & Thais: I looked forward to our budgeting meeting every week because I was laughing the whole time! The two of you came up with the most creative pitches and brought such a joyful energy to the paper that I’m glad to know will be carried on into the next volume. Dante: It’s been such a pleasure to work with you at The Hatchet and elsewhere this past year. I have mad respect for all the work you’ve done with the video section over the years and I can’t wait to see what you do beyond GW.

Jaden: When I hired you the copy section was a bit of a sore spot – I couldn’t find anyone within staff to step up to the plate and I was wary of bringing in an external editor. But I was absolutely blown away by the way you took ownership over your section this year. As much as I may have rolled my eyes at your late-night, last-minute copy edits, the paper was always better for it. I’m so glad that you’ll be back at it next year with your copy edits and your input at ed board.

Team facts: Henry, Sam & Tara: You all stepped up to do a job that can sometimes feel thankless, but I hope you took pride knowing that you were the last line of defense to make sure stories got told the right way. No matter how late prodo went on Sundays and Wednesdays I knew I could count on the three of you to make the paper the best it could be.

Team Podcast: Sarah: Whether you were interviewing professional ghost hunters or unpacking the city’s cat census, you always brought the most creative pitches to budgeting. I couldn’t be happier to know that you’ll be coming back to podcast in the next volume – I’ll be listening! Sejal: I am so proud of all that you’ve accomplished since you were in my section reporting health and science news during the pandemic. I’ve loved what you’ve done with the podcast this year and I can’t wait to see what you do at The Hatchet and beyond. Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Ethan: Though I only got to work with you for a semester, I’ve been so impressed with what you’ve brought to the podcast this spring. I was so happy to learn that you’re sticking around in social and on ed board next year!

Team Design: Grace Miller: (or should I say David) Your energy and humor lit up the basement Sunday nights and it’s one of the reasons I so looked forward to piecing the pages together in the middle of the night every week. Whether you were hiding inside a suitcase or projecting Harry Potter on the white boards, there was never a dull moment in the basement with you around. I hope you can get some rest this summer. Isabella: It’s been such a joy watching you grow into your role this past year! I know you’ll have a blast heading the Design section this upcoming semester. Nick Anastacio: Your graphics are the best thing ever. No matter how crazy of an idea staff members would come to you with, you put together the most professional-looking graphics. I know you will have no trouble finding an amazing job – stay in touch!

Team Social: Amy, Molly & Sidney: The three of you have brought creative ideas and such a joyful energy to the paper this past year. I’ve been blown away at how you’ve grown our audience this past year and I can’t wait to follow your careers as you take the next steps.

Vol. 119: This paper is what you put into it and I have no doubt you’ll raise the bar in the next volume. Taking on the role of storytelling comes with immense responsibility, but don’t forget to have fun and make memories, because that’s what truly makes this worth it.

Past staff:

Dani: Whenever people ask me how I joined The Hatchet the answer I give is that I had a really cool Metro editor my freshman year and I wanted to be like her. And that’s the truth. You pushed me out of my comfort zone and made me surprise myself with what I was capable of. Thank you for asking me to join staff and for challenging me to do my best work.

Sarah: I sure did have big shoes to fill. I did nowhere near the job you did but the care you put into everything you do inspired me in tough moments. I’m never going to forget the first Zoom call we had at the start of my transition when I hopped on early and you were not expecting me to be there. Thank you for leaving this paper in a better place than where you found it. Thank you for raising the bar.

Alec: Your calm presence was greatly missed on The Hatchet this semester, but I know you’re killing it these days. I hope our paths cross sometime soon!

Ilena: My fellow Metro Queen! I am so sad that we didn’t get to work together after sophomore year but I am so glad for the time we did get to spend together. I know you’re out there crushing it at Columbia.

Lizzie: When you had a million things on your plate as student life editor during Vol. 116 you still made a point to check in on me when I was Metro editor. You poured so much care and dedication into the work you did at The Hatchet, but most importantly you were a great friend to me. I know you’re out in the world doing great things! If you ever find yourself in D.C. again, let’s get coffee.

Michelle: I was so glad to hire you after you were a star reporter all throughout the virtual year. Even as you’ve taken a step back from staff this semester I know that your presence has been greatly appreciated by the news team. I hope you make it back to The Hatchet before you graduate. I know that whatever you do, you’ll be great at it.

Friends, family, mentors and professors:

Professor Zuckerman: Your guidance this past year has been so helpful and has truly made the paper better. Thank you for always answering my calls and then calling back later with more thoughts. Your dedication to this work and to your students is inspiring and has gone so far.

Catie, Taylor, Eliza, Zakir: Thank you for keeping me in check. Thank you for listening me to rant about The Hatchet for who knows how many hours. Thank you for helping me close my computer and be present. I love y’all more than you know.

Delaney: My Colorado/D.C. pal! You have been alongside me every step of the way and I could not be happier that you made it to the District. Thank you for getting what it’s like to be way too invested in your niche college activity and for helping me to get away from it when I needed to.

My professors: Dr. Cheers, Professor Roberts, Ashley: Thank you each for pushing me to do my best work. Whether it was for The Hatchet or for class, I know I’m coming out of the past four years a stronger journalist thanks to your guidance.

Mama, Papa, Zara, Rosebud and Frankie: When you dropped me off at GW, I don’t think any of you expected to have to watch me work for my college newspaper from home. None of this would have been possible without you. I can’t wait to show you around the city that I love during Commencement. I love you all!


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