Champion Staff Goodbyes

new season — Liberty Champion staff seniors are grateful for their years as editors, photographers and designers, eager to step into what the future holds. Photo credit: Leah Seavers

New season — Liberty Champion staff seniors are grateful for their years as editors, photographers and designers, eager to step into what the future holds. Photo credit: Leah Seavers


Breann Black:

It is crazy to think that I will not be returning in the fall to this gloomy grey-walled, in desperate need of a make over or a window area, also known as the Champion office. I transferred to Liberty from a school in the great state of Texas in the spring semester of 2013, not knowing anyone. Taking a leap of faith, I applied for a design position here at the Champion. This job has provided me with many friendships and free pizza that I will always be thankful for. I am so blessed to have been able to work with such a talented group of people, and I cannot wait to see where we all go from here. God bless, and God bless Texas, y’all.


Emily Brown:

At the end of almost every production Monday, I ask, “Why do I do this to myself?”

And every time I come up with the same answer. I love it. I love journalism, and I love all the chaos that comes with it — the deadlines, the breaking stories, the design problems, the photo issues, the copy editing — all of it. All the stress that comes with journalism is worth it when I see the finished paper. Journalism is one of my biggest passions, and the Champion has given me the opportunity to practice what I love and become a better journalist, designer and copy editor in the process.

But what I love even more than the journalistic opportunities that the Champion has afforded me are the relationships. By doing something we all love, we have formed a family as opposed to just a newspaper staff.

I will always be grateful for the friends I have made as I spent hours on end here in the office — practically my home for the last two years. For the times we had deep conversations to the times we just watched “The Office” together, and for every time they put up with my turquoise marks and times I simply said “NOPE” to the headlines they came up with, I will be forever grateful.

I could not be more privileged to work with such an amazing, fun group of people.

And to Mrs. Huff, who came up with the compromises and solutions to all our newspaper problems, the professor who undoubtedly taught me the most in my four years as a student, I simply say, “thank you.” There is so much more I could say to you. You made me a good journalist and helped me to be a better copy editor. You encouraged me so much every day and honestly shaped me into the person I am today.

As my coworkers can attest, I could write so much more about this life-changing experience at the Champion, and I would gladly go through another few turquoise pens, but my word count has officially cut me off.

To next year’s staff: I look forward to all the great issues you all will produce. Have fun, and do not take any minute for granted. I am sure the Champion will give you an unforgettable experience, just as it gave me.


Olivia Brown:

As a missionary kid, I am used to saying goodbye. Contrary to popular belief, though, this does not mean I am good at it.

I learned a long time ago that I do not like goodbyes. So, my mind devised a way for me to experience a significantly less painful grieving period in order to keep my composure when I or someone else has to leave. This method is most commonly known as denial.

Last year, when I received the email from the editor-in-chief of the Liberty Champion saying I was going to be the new copy editor, I was overwhelmed with shock and excitement. I had been accepted into my dream job — getting to edit the articles of others in order to improve them for publishing.

Working for the Liberty Champion ended up being much more amazing than I could have hoped. I did not just meet new friends, I became part of a family. However, the thought that I would have to leave when I graduated was always in the back of my mind. So I completely ignored the thought.

Now the time has come where I have to say goodbye. But to be honest, I am still in denial. I have continuously avoided the thought that I am graduating in a few days and that I will have to say goodbye to the family I have joined. So, as cliché as it may be, this is not a goodbye for me.

See you later, Liberty Champion.


Ash Brownd:

When I first stepped into the newspaper office, I was a practicum writer doing a mandatory shadowing of my editor. By the end of the afternoon, I knew that this was a place I wanted to be. I applied to be on staff and was lucky enough to be selected as a copy editor.

These past two semesters working with the newspaper have been incredible. It was a bit daunting at first because there is so much work that goes into producing each edition. I have learned so much about writing and reporting, and it has also been a lot of fun. I have had the pleasure of working with an incredible team of people who never cease to make my day. The discussions and laughter we shared have made my senior year of college truly memorable and enjoyable. But now the time has come to say goodbye.

When I think of what I will miss after leaving Liberty, the newspaper is at the top of that list. This office has become my home, a place where a sarcastic but introverted writer finally felt like she truly belonged. This staff is like my family, and I will miss them all greatly. But I also know that this is not a permanent goodbye. In the age of technology, we can certainly find ways to stay in touch. So for now I will simply say, “See you later.” Thanks for the memories, and I wish you all the best of luck.


Tré Goins-Phillips:

In just two years, I discovered my passion — writing. A passion I find somewhat ironic, since growing up I always hated reading, and writing always seemed to be a cumbersome speed bump between any completed class and me.

Now, sitting at my laptop, at the end of my time as opinion editor at the Liberty Champion, I can say God was onto something when he led me to drop political science and become a journalism major.

Journalism is an industry unlike any other field. In just one year at the Champion, I wrote editorials on issues ranging from politics and culture to faith and religion. Though I just scratched the surface of many of the issues I covered, I felt honored to be the conversation starter. Is that not who we are as editorialists?

“When everyone zigs, find a way to zag,” Jonathan Merritt, an editorialist and Liberty graduate, once told me.

Being a conversation starter, you often find yourself in the hot seat — but I have been OK with that. As a writer, my goal has never been to fully convert any reader to my way of thinking. I believe if I bring even one person to the table, willing to engage, maybe for the first time, then I have done my job.

Those moments of vulnerability sometimes gave way to moments of consideration and learning. After all, I am nothing more than a life-long learner. The only difference between journalists and the rest of the world is we bear out our learning — though sometimes cluttered and confused — for all to read.

In time, “Let’s talk,” became a phrase I was familiar with hearing or seeing. For a few of my more controversial articles, I found those two words scribbled across the top in Professor Huff’s purple ink.

Those “Let’s talk” conversations always yielded refined writing and more seasoned thinking. In time, I came to enjoy those moments. And today, I can tell you I will undoubtedly miss all of our talks and day-to-day conversations.

I have learned so much as a writer, and Professor Huff played no small part in preparing me for this field. It has been a privilege and honor to sit under her teaching, guidance and wisdom.

This year has been a season of firsts for me. I have had the fortune of having my work published in FoxNation, the Washington Post and the Religion News Service. And my writing has been cited on MSNBC and in the New York Times.

In addition to the many professors to whom I owe gratitude, there are a few people outside my Liberty family who have played a part in molding and shaping me as a journalist. I will probably thank those people on Twitter.

All in all, I look back at this past year feeling blessed and proud to have had the opportunity to serve those around me and to work with such an immensely talented team of writers, editors and designers.

My passion is most assuredly writing, and I look forward to continuing conversations and starting new discussions in the years to come. The beauty of this world is that not all issues come with black and white answers.

We live somewhere in the gray scale, blessed with the opportunity to navigate it together. And, as a writer, who happens to be Christian, I have the privilege of wading into those gray areas, equipped with my faith, ready and willing to start the discussion.


Josh Janney:

When I was first asked to try for an editor position at the Liberty Champion, I was reluctant to do so. Knowing that my senior year would be filled with tons of assignments, I was worried that taking on editorial duties would push me into insanity. Despite these concerns, I made the decision to go for it.

It is a good thing too, because joining the Champion was probably my single greatest decision I have made during my four years at Liberty University. It has allowed me to grow so much as a writer, an editor and a leader.

It has also given me the chance to work with an amazing staff, most of which have become good friends of mine. Over the past year we have all helped each other get through some of the most frustrating (and sometimes ridiculous) obstacles that have attempted to thwart the publication of our newspaper.

The Champion staff is an odd assortment of strange characters, but my time with them has been a defining aspect of my senior year. These friends will definitely be missed.

Though I look forward to my future beyond Liberty as I begin my epic quest to find a job, my time at the Liberty Champion will always hold a special place in my heart.


Dave Van Dyk:

An old Chinese proverb dating back to the Ming dynasty was once known as saying “Goodbyes are dumb.” Well, I believe it. So rather than saying goodbye and how much I loved my time at the Champion, I am going to give you some life lessons to take to heart or forget the next day.

Leave your door open. Leaving your door open communicates to your dormmates that you are sociable and open to conversations. It means you are open to hanging out and are not a cave dweller. By leaving your door open, your friends and neighbors across the hall know you do not mind talking.

Get involved. Getting involved gets you connected, which opens up opportunities to make new friends. Getting involved means connecting with a club, joining an intramural team and chasing opportunities when they are presented. Getting involved with campus life in your little niche will pay dividends in the end.

Focus on your grades early on. Focusing on your grades early on will form a GPA pillow for future years. By achieving good grades early on, it will allow you to have fun later. Should you get yourself in a relationship or start assuming leadership opportunities, your grades may drop, but they will drop on a nice fluffy GPA pillow from your early years.

Walk without wearing earphones. Walking without earphones allows you to enjoy the scenery and listen to what is going on around you. It allows you to appreciate the people you come into contact with and shows respect to those who are talking to you.

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