The Whit Staff: Messages from Graduating Editors

The Whit's graduating editors reminisce on their time at the Whit. Regardless of the amount of time they've worked with the Whit, their experiences have made an impact. - Graphics Editor / Jana Jackstis

As we publish our final issue of the 2020-21 academic year, there are several members of the editorial staff that will be moving on to careers, further education and the future in general. Below are the parting thoughts of those who are walking in commencement ceremonies in just a few short weeks.

Kalie (outgoing Editor-in-Chief): As a journalism major, The Whit has opened so many doors for me. I still remember my first time covering something other than a Rowan After Hours event (my go-to as a budding sophomore journalism student). I took pride in what I wrote and even hung it on my wall in my Townhouses bedroom. Throughout the years since then, I’ve gotten more experience covering events and other topics relevant to the campus community, becoming more comfortable with reporting on difficult subjects. I truly wouldn’t be as well-equipped for a career in journalism if I hadn’t joined The Whit in 2018.

Aside from the writing opportunities I’ve gotten from The Whit, I don’t think I’d be the person I am now without the people I’ve met through The Whit. I’ve learned from my fellow staff members and have made lasting friendships with all the editors and several of the writers.

With graduation nearly upon us, it’s hard to think that almost everything that has given my time at Rowan meaning will be nothing more than memories, survived by my connection with the people I’ve met along the way. I truly don’t know where I’d be without The Whit, and I’ll miss the long nights of editing and all the breakfasts Corey hasn’t bought me despite the promises.

So thank you to everyone who has made my Whit experience so special, and best of luck to all those who will carry The Whit on into next year and the future.

Alex (outgoing Multimedia Editor): Of all the experiences I’ve been blessed enough to have in my college career, my time with The Whit will always rank among the most fulfilling. This organization has given me the opportunity to develop as a professional, a writer, a scholar and an artist in ways I couldn’t have imagined. It’s given me the opportunity to forge friendships that I will never cease to treasure. And, it’s given me the opportunity to speak my truth and to speak truth for my fellow students.

The inequity and antisemitism I’ve experienced as a Jewish student in my four years at Rowan inspired me to publish those experiences through The Whit, which I consider to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. 

Shortly after that article went public, an old friend I hadn’t talked to in years reached out to tell me how important this article was to him, because of the antisemitism he’d also experienced when he opened up about his Jewish identity. I learned a lesson then: never doubt that your stories of adversity can help others overcome theirs. Nobody should ever doubt that their stories are important, especially when those with power would rather that they stay quiet.

Jana (outgoing Graphics Editor): The Whit has helped me in so many ways, especially in the short period of time that I’ve been here. Not only have I grown as a designer, but my values and experiences have as well. In these past few months, I was able to put out and design artwork that even I was surprised that I was able to create. The Whit has opened my eyes to the world of publication and journalism, and I truly appreciate everything that it has offered me. I’ve learned so much about the journalism industry that I wouldn’t have ever found out were it not for the amazing people that I teamed up with. The team here is made of some of the most unique and extraordinary people that I have ever met. I know it sounds cliché, but I really would not be the person I am today without these amazing people.

Thank you everyone. Thank you to the amazing editors, writers and other members of The Whit. Thank you for an amazing few months that I’ll always treasure. Thank you for helping me grow and giving me great memories to look back on. I can’t thank you enough.

Taryn (outgoing Copy Editor): I really wish that I had joined The Whit sooner. In fact, I’d say that that’s one of the only changes I would make if I had to do college over. Not only has this been a great opportunity to build career skills, but it’s also been a very friendly and welcoming experience. I’ve enjoyed working with the other editors and being a part of creating something for the campus and community every week so much. I’m truly disappointed that I won’t be able to experience this for longer.

As I get ready to graduate with my English degree, I’m excited to take the skills that I’ve gained from working on The Whit with me. Not only have I learned how to copy edit — and gained an acute understanding of AP style — but I’ve learned how to work on a team where everyone does their part to create a unified product. Working on a student newspaper has been a very rewarding experience, and I’m grateful to have had it.

I’ve also really enjoyed getting to see so many perspectives from our student journalists — many of whom are also on the editorial team — that bring important issues to light and strive to make Rowan a better place. I can definitely say that I’ve learned a lot about Rowan and the students that make the campus what it is. 

Thank you to this awesome team for welcoming me in the fall and giving me such a great opportunity and experience. I wish everyone the very best!

Tara (outgoing Managing Editor): When I first stepped into The Whit office building during my senior year of high school, I knew I’d be a part of this wacky group of writers and editors. I had been hot off my stint as editor-in-chief of my high school paper, The Ram Page, and loved that journalism was something I was good at. I had thought that I would be a career science journalist, hypothetically double-majoring in geology and journalism… which didn’t end up working out. Four years later, I have instead committed to an equally terrifying career path as an academic geologist, and I will pursue my Ph.D. at the University of Michigan. Yes, Ali Houshmand and I will soon share an alma mater.

At The Whit, I’ve held three different editor positions. I was elected Arts and Entertainment Editor my sophomore year and co-Editor-in-Chief my junior year — and stepped down my senior year to take on the Managing Editor role, while I more seriously pursued grad school applications and geoscience research. In this time, I’ve had the chance to write about everything from science ethics to wind ensemble recitals to COVID signage to Holocaust memorials to emotional support animals to bingo games. Overall, I have experienced a cross-section of the Rowan community that few others have.

I would like to thank Nicholas DiUlio, Kristyn Voegele and Harold Connolly for supporting me through my unconventional time at Rowan and into my future; Kathryn Quigley, Joe Gramigna and Miguel Martinez for believing in me; Kalie VanDewater, Corey Rothauser, Vee Concepcion, Taryn Guettler, Jana Jackstis and Alex Rossen for putting up with me; Jimmy for bringing me food when I would be hungry at the office; and of course my family for being proud of me. To Helena Perray, Joel Vasquez-Juarbe, Luke Garcia, Brianna Mac Kay, Kara Guno, Julia Quennessen, Natalie Arch and Jennifer McGraw — you’ll all do great! 

Corey (outgoing News Editor): When I switched my major from marketing to journalism in 2019, I felt more confused than I ever did in life. I knew nothing about the journalistic process; however, I was eager to explore my curiosity through it. I was a sophomore and had just started learning the basics of journalism, but The Whit welcomed me with open arms. It gave me an invaluable outlet to develop the skills I learned in class and apply them to my news writing. 

For the first time in my college career, I felt like I had a place on campus. I began attending community meetings and other events that I would never have been involved with before joining The Whit. I met and built relationships with experts in different fields through my various news stories.

Becoming news editor of The Whit was such a bright moment in my life, and I will always cherish it. However, the pandemic would overshadow my moment of pride, and I remember many nights questioning whether we could effectively report during the pandemic. The Whit taught me that when the world is darkest, it becomes crucial to march forward into the unknown because the alternative is giving up on your dreams. The Whit gave me an outlet to challenge the world, and as I write this before our final issue of the year, I think with great emotion about how we didn’t use COVID-19 as an excuse to put our aspirations and the people who believe in us to the side. I can’t thank The Whit enough for challenging me. To the faculty, students and friends of the Whit, thank you for believing in me.

Vee (outgoing Copy Desk Chief): As a sophomore at Rowan feeling lost and lonely as a transient commuter, finding my place at The Whit was such an invaluable experience for me. It gave me a place to be myself and have fun all while gaining experience and making professional connections. Although I changed my major from journalism to writing arts with a minor in journalism, being able to maintain a journalistic hobby and presence at The Whit taught me so many important lessons about ethics, teamwork and even friendship. It opened my eyes to what change we could make if we all worked together and worked hard. Being able to accept an award on behalf of The Whit and being able to say I was a part of positive change is a huge point of pride for me. 

As copy editor, and now copy desk chief, one of the best parts about my work on the paper is seeing amazing and powerful articles from student voices on campus. It reaffirms my belief in the power of giving voice to the voiceless, and it brought me so much entertainment and joy to read many of the articles that have passed through The Whit over the years. Being able to strengthen those voices and make them as powerful as they could be for the world is what drove me to continue every week, and I’m going to miss the awesome people that brought life to the paper. I trust that the incoming editors will pave their own way for The Whit and bring new energy and life to the publication in the way we once did. 

Thank you to my fellow editors for trusting me with your content and voice, and Tara, specifically, for your work in creating a space that encouraged fairness, equality and the importance of being heard. I will truly miss our Whit Wednesdays and I hope that in some small way, my work on The Whit helped put some good in the world.

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