2020-2021 Staff Goodbyes: A collection of letters from the Liberty Champion graduating seniors
Hattie Troutman, Editor-in-Chief
The little news office tucked in the side of Green Hall’s main entrance doesn’t look special from the outside. Many people walk by never realizing the bustling work happening on the other side of the glass door. This little office, however, became more than an office space throughout my last three years of college. I first walked into the Champion office as an eager journalism student unaware of the impact this job would have on me. Now, as I take my final steps out of the newsroom, I can barely recognize that young, naïve student.
The Champion offered a space for me to grow in more ways than in journalism and writing. I learned uncountable life lessons from mentors like Mrs. Huff, I was given opportunities to practice leadership and I saw what a true encourager looks like in people such as Logan Smith.
This job became more than a weekly paper, although those were invaluable experiences. This job fostered friendships that made the office my favorite place to be. Long production days were the best days of my week, working alongside talented friends without a dull moment. The Lord used this underwhelming office space to equip and prepare me for my life ahead, and for that I am forever grateful.
Every front page decision, meaningful conversation and rowdy joke shouted throughout the office only scratch the surface on the lovely memories imprinted into my amazing three years at Liberty University. I can say confidently, the people at the Liberty Champion made the biggest impact on my life, making this office a home that is terribly difficult to leave.
John Nekrasov, Sports Editor
I’m not very good at goodbyes. Most of the time my attempts at walking out the door end up like the end of “The Return of the King,” a steady string of not-quite-endings that all end up with me lingering for a few more minutes each time as my feet move a couple steps closer to the door.
So, instead of writing 50 pages, Tolstoy-style, as a philosophical monologue on the meaning of journalism, I’ll just say this. I’m going to miss the Champion a lot.
When I entered college, I had no idea that I was going to finish four years later with a journalism degree and a job at a newspaper. But from covering March Madness in Indianapolis to sparking office Star Wars debates, I’ve made memories that will last a lifetime here. I made some of the best friends of my life and wrote more stories than I could ever imagine.
I’d also like to give a huge thank you to Mrs. Huff, Logan and all my professors for challenging me to constantly grow, both as a writer and a person, in my time here. I wouldn’t be the journalist I am today without each of you.
I’ve already passed by three potential ending points for this goodbye, so I’m just going to stop here and abruptly sail away, Frodo-style, staring moodily into the camera before turning away into the sunset.
(And if you’re still offended by my Christmas columns, I’m sorry. I just followed my conscience.)
See you later, Liberty Champion.
Kayleigh Hamer, A-Section Copy Editor
Even for someone who essentially majored in communicating feelings, events, and emotions through words, it is hard to express what this past year working at the Champion meant to me.
When I walked into work during our first week of production last semester, I knew that the experience working at a paper of this caliber would be valuable as an aspiring journalist. I, however, knew very little about the day-to-day tasks involved in my job and the people that would become my coworkers and treasured friends.
I had no idea how much I would love the actual process of copyediting – seeing the way pages start at the beginning of production and then watching them come back cleaner and cleaner each time until you cannot find anything else to nitpick is truly a satisfying experience for a perfectionist.
But even more than that, I had no idea how much I would treasure the time with the staff. I had no idea that quite a few of the people in that room shared a lot of my strange niche interests – movie scores, Queen Elizabeth II and general British royal history, and the impeccable storytelling masterpiece that is Greta Gerwigs Little Women. I had no idea how much I would actually look forward to long production days each week.
As the great Andy Bernard said, “I wish there was a way to know you were in the good old days before you actually left them.”
It has been a marvelous time. Long live the 2020-21 Champion staff. A-section copy is signing off for the last time.
Dakota Ward, B Section Design Editor
Planning, templates, graphics, salads, design checks, repeat. Over the past year and a half at the Champion, my weeks have consisted of this cycle.
I was timid to begin the journey at first, however, I never imagined working alongside a group as supportive, adaptable and creative as the Champion staff. This made the job easy and worthwhile.
The meaningful conversations full of laughter are unforgettable, and I will cherish the time I’ve spent in the office. In addition to being colleagues, everyone on staff has become a friend. Not many people are able to say that about their job. It has been an honor to work for the Champion, and I know the new staff will continue to excel and modernize a paper made for students by students.
Kaitlyn Bradshaw, A Section Design Editor
The main reason I applied for this job was because I grew up seeing Clark Kent work at the Daily Planet, Rory Gilmore at the Yale Daily News, and Peter Parker at The Daily Bugle. I had seen them in their day-to-day life at their papers and wanted that for myself.
With the Liberty Champion, I got that experience and much more. The Champion has been a place I get excited to go to and sad to leave. I have made friends, shared laughs, and eaten many salads. Monday, what used to be a day I dreaded, became my favorite day of the week. I got to spend the whole of our production days working on a paper I’m always proud of the next day, all while laughing with my friends, bonding over the latest pop culture, and, of course, eating salads. Work wasn’t work. It was just a bunch of people hanging out, reporting the news. I will always remember and cherish the time I’ve spent at the Champion. Working here wasn’t like working for the Daily Planet or the Daily Bugle, it was better.
Savanna Graves, News Editor
I walked into Mrs. Huff’s office for the first time nearly four years ago when I was still a lost high schooler coming to visit Liberty over summer break. That first meeting with Mrs. Huff in her treasure trove of an office, listening to her heart behind journalism while she watched Fox News told me all I needed to know.
God’s evident hand in that first meeting led me to Liberty as a student, and later back into Mrs. Huff’s office for a job interview. Since that first meeting, I have jumped through the sections of the paper as an opinion writer, an assistant feature editor, and finally as the news editor, each job teaching more than the last.
This past year in my noisy swivel chair has provided me with valuable colleagues turned dear friends, incredible opportunities I could only ever have dreamed of, and experience that will carry me into this next season of life. I can never say thank you enough to Mrs. Huff for always being right and guiding us in a way only she can; to Logan for caring about each of us individually and genuinely; to Hattie for being a friend and genius editor; to the entire A-section for being talented and flexible and fun every week; and to the Champion as a whole for being a newspaper and a job that makes leaving so difficult.
Rosa Elías, Social Media Manager
My sophomore year at Liberty, I decided to become a journalism major, and it wasn’t long before I heard about the Champion. I would daydream of being published in it and of hopefully working there someday. Shortly after, one of those first dreams came true as I enrolled in the practicum and saw my work in print week after week. It was and still is such a gratifying feeling, to know your words are read and that they matter. However, to work for the Champion has been even more gratifying, as I’ve witnessed a staff that pours endless amounts of effort into this paper to ensure the student body gets the incredible end result they deserve.
I feel so blessed and privileged to have been allowed to work alongside such talented individuals. Their work ethic and creativity has challenged me as a professional and grown me in more ways than one. I am thankful to the Lord for such an incredible opportunity and am humbled that I get to say I worked with such an amazing group of people. My senior year at Liberty would not have been the same without the Champion, and I will be eternally grateful for that. I am confident the new staff will keep up the same excellence that has characterized this paper year after year!
Emmanuel Adamson, Sports Social Media Manager
Although I only worked at the Champion for one year, I’ve learned so many different things that will help me as I start my professional career. Through this experience I’ve grown as a teammate, communicator and writer. I will always be grateful for the relationships I built with staff members. It was an honor to work with such dedicated and gifted students. Thank you, Liberty University and the Liberty Champion for this
John Simmons, Web Manager
I’m an enneagram 1, and for you personality geeks out there that means I’m a perfectionist. As such, I’m constantly hard on myself, and that did not change in college. I had difficulty balancing my time to be on my own with preparing for life after school, and I had a hard time being present and fully content with this season.
These are confusing, wonderful, stressful and blessed years, and true to my enneagram category, I wish I could go back and do it better. But since we do not have DeLorean’s that can take us back in time once we propel to 88 mph (real ones will know what I mean), here are some lessons I have learned along the way that I hope will help you enjoy college to the fullest.
Pray for 10 minutes every morning and be thankful, get involved in a local and Christ-centered church (Redeeming Grace is a great option), be honest about your shortcomings and do not hide from them, bring your weaknesses to God and be patient as he molds you into his wonderful creation, learn to play ultimate frisbee – the real way (shout out to Men’s and Women’s Ultimate), go to football and basketball games, get a Rookie’s cookie sandwich. Get the Baja sauce on SubCo sandwiches, hike anywhere and everywhere you can, prioritize getting homework done and getting good sleep, be patient and prayerful in your search for a spouse…and don’t be afraid of mistakes.
The rest is up to you. College is a wonderful time to learn about yourself and life beyond school. Enjoy it to the full. It always goes by faster than you think.
Bailey Duran, Opinion Editor
Life is full of little moments and life is full of big moments, and both are equally special. For a long time I felt as though I had to have a ton of big moments making up my life to be truly happy. This semester I have learned that it is not the big things that make all the difference – while they are fun and special – but it is the little things that truly make life meaningful.
College is full of a lot of big moments – the highs and lows of classes, making new friends, being accepted for an internship, meeting your significant other and finally making it to the day where we accept our diploma and leave the bubble we have called home for the last few years.
It’s also full of little moments. Staying up til 4 a.m. talking to friends, getting a good grade on a hard assignment, connecting with a professor, attending a football game, working an amazing job with amazing people and having movie nights with someone you love.
Liberty has shown me four of the best years of my life, given me my best friends, introduced me to my boyfriend, brought me closer to God and gave me a passion for writing that I never knew I would have.
While these four years absolutely flew by, I wouldn’t change it for the world. I am so grateful to Liberty and the Champion for showing a wide-eyed freshman how to truly make an impact on the world. It is something I will never forget.