A message from the Spring 2022 Liberty Champion graduating staff members

Lauren Shank

I never knew this small little office labeled “The Liberty Champion” would become such a staple piece in my college experience — and in many ways, it felt just like home. I first got involved with the Champion through CSER my sophomore year of college. This then transitioned into becoming the news editor last semester and the editor-in-chief this semester — and wow I have learned a lot.

 Beyond the walls of a classroom, the Champion taught me not only how to write, but how to talk to people. It gave me the opportunity to meet new people, taking the time to listen to their stories. After all, being a journalist goes beyond the surface level. Being trusted to tell a story that isn’t yours requires depth in your writing and, most importantly, the truth. 

Through the Champion, I feel more confident as a journalist and more prepared to step out into the real world, using the skills that God gave me to glorify his name. 

I’m going to miss the 12-hour (or more) Mondays, spent with the most talented and uplifting staff — a staff that has felt more like family, with lasting friendships that I will hold close to my heart no matter how far away I’ll be from this campus. 

It’s bittersweet to say goodbye to something that has become a part of my everyday life. But I know I’m leaving this office with a greater appreciation of journalism (with a huge thank you to Mrs. Huff and Logan) and an experience I’ll never forget.

Goodbyes are never easy. But the Liberty Champion is just one milestone of many. 

Kevin Gora
News Editor

From the first time I stepped into the Champion office to the last, I am forever grateful for everything that has happened in the confines of those walls.

Between the people I met and the memories I have made, it is safe to say that the impressions everyone had on me not only helped me become a better journalist, but they have given me amazing friendships. The long stressful office days were always made a little more enjoyable because of them. The inspiration that is bounced off the walls from each staff member in that office excites me to see how far everyone goes in their careers.

I want to especially thank Mrs. Huff and Logan Smith because of all the mentorship they have given. To learn firsthand from them what it takes to work as a journalist, I will always cherish it. To call everyone that works for the Champion just my co-workers or peers would be an understatement. I am honored to call them my friends.

As I turn the page to the next chapter of life, I am uncertain where exactly I will be, but I am excited to know I was properly prepared to get where I want to be one day. 

Charity Fitch
Asst. News Editor

When I chose journalism as my major, I had no idea what I was doing.

All I knew was I loved writing and photography, but the Champion has taught me that journalism is so much more than words or photographs on a page. 

It is connecting with people.

It is understanding another person’s experience.

It is researching a topic and explaining it well.

It is asking the right questions.

It is searching for the stories that impact people.

It is attending events and paying attention to details.

It is telling a story, and everyone has one.

The Champion has given me the opportunity to share so many important stories. 

I have spoken with longtime friends of Dr. Jerry Falwell Sr. and counselors on campus. I have spoken to faculty and staff members. I have spoken to students.

Each had a story, and each was important. 

The Champion has taught me many lessons that I will take with me into my next season.

I began with the Champion as a CSER photographer and reporter then became a practicum writer and then the assistant news editor.

Not only have I gained wisdom, but I have also gained friendships.

How do I say goodbye to a place that has taught me so much in three years?

Thank you for being a part of my story.

Peyton MacKenzie
Opinion Editor

When I transferred to Liberty University, I had no idea the impact journalism would have on my life. However, transferring allowed me to cultivate meaningful relationships through outlets like the Liberty Champion. 

Working for the Champion was the best use of my time while pursuing my undergraduate education. Here, I’ve met people who I not only have had the pleasure of working with on production days, but individuals I get to spend my free time with as well. 

At the Champion, I’ve met my best friends. 

I am blessed to learn from and grow from my peers. The atmosphere has been nothing but encouraging, and I wouldn’t trade the experiences gained for the world. Whether I was a CSER writer, a practicum writer or the opinion editor, I was poured into and cared about as not only an aspiring journalist, but as a person. 

Although the time has come to say goodbye, I will not be leaving behind the tools given and the lessons learned from my time here. The Champion has prepared me for the professional world through the hands-on training that was provided. 

Thank you, Champion and readers, for supporting me. 

Jordan Smith
Feature Editor

It all started with a lost application. 

When I applied to be a copy editor at the Champion for Spring 2021, I never heard back. Dejected, I emailed to ask about the status of my application, only to get a response that was the exact opposite of what I was hoping for: no, you didn’t get the position. 

Flash forward to now. I had the privilege of being the A-section copy editor in Fall 2021 and the feature editor this past semester. My little dream came true twofold.  

In contrast to the beginning of my history with the Champion, the time in between has been both stretching and sweet. The people who surrounded me made the hard times easier and the good times that much better. I became best friends with the AP Stylebook. I learned how to be a better writer. I grew a deep appreciation for storytelling and feature writing. 

When I learned that I didn’t get the job on that fall night so long ago, I was devastated (tears were, in fact, shed). But as I write this goodbye note, I’m getting teary-eyed thinking about leaving. 

It’s funny how God works – this moment ending in a full circle and simultaneously being the beginning of a new chapter, post-graduation and post-Champion. On my resume, my time here may just be memorialized with a few lines summing up what I did on staff. And I did do those things. But what isn’t mentioned – the people I knew and grew with – is the real story. 

Renee Farmer
Asst. Feature Editor
Social Media

Everyone has a story to tell. And throughout this past year at the Champion, I’ve had the privilege of writing, editing and sharing many stories. Some of celebration, some of struggle – but with hope in each of them. I’ve been inspired and challenged by the experiences so graciously shared with me by each person whose story I’ve told.

From my time in the feature section, I’ve learned a sort of reverence for those around me. For as many stories as I have told, there are many I will never know. Every pair of eyes I’ve looked into has seen beauty and tragedy I will never see, and every hand I’ve shaken has accomplished things I never will. I am humbled.

I’ve had the privilege of telling the stories of others. Now, it’s time to write my own.

Luke Randle
Sports Editor

“Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” You’ve probably heard that phrase a lot. In this case, anything that could go right pretty much did. 

Since the fall of 2020, I’ve worked at The Champion, starting as the asst. feature editor.

Sure, I had little to no idea what I was doing, but I grew over time and got comfortable in the newsroom. Eventually, I was able to transition to sports, and I haven’t looked back. 

I’ve learned a lot. The long nights writing news budgets, acting as a liaison between writers and media contacts –it’s hard. But it was worth it. 

I’ve been able to cover just about every sport and go in depth on some athletes’ stories. It’s an invaluable experience, and I’ve gotten to experience it with some great people. 

Some of us went to Mobile, Alabama, last year to cover Liberty’s bowl game, and while the 17-hour bus ride sucked, it was a once-in-a-lifetime trip. 

I think the legacy I leave will be the strong connection between writers and sports information directors. It’s in a very good place right now. We also have greatly increased our social media interactions with the actual athletes, opening a new audience to our newspaper. 

Now, I’m off to Idaho to work as a weekend anchor/reporter at CBS 2 Boise. I’ll miss you Liberty Champion. It’s been the best of times. Goodbye. 

Christian Shields
Asst. Sports Editor

Four years ago, when I walked onto Liberty’s campus, I had no idea what my plan was for my life. I began to consider journalism because I have always had a passion
for writing. 

Once I declared, I fell in love with the opportunity to write about sports. I started writing for the Liberty Champion my junior year. The chance to interview players and coaches at Liberty and to be able to tell their stories really spoke to me. 

I began working for the Champion the following semester when I accepted a position as the B-section copy editor. Working at the Champion confirmed for me that this is where God wanted me to be and that this is how I could use my talents for his glory. My position at the Champion did not feel like a chore, but instead, it was like I was adopted into an awesome, loving family. 

Thank you, Mrs. Huff, for always pushing us to do our best and helping us achieve our goals. 

Thank you, Logan, for always making time to talk to everyone in the office and helping us find rest during long production days. 

Thank you, Luke, for leading the sports section to such a successful year. 

Thanks to everyone else in the office for making my time at the newspaper one of the highlights of my college career, and thank you to everyone who read the paper for your support.

Mariana Gambino
Web Manager

For the majority of my time at Liberty, I’ve spent my time working in broadcast. While I loved what I did, I wanted to try something new this semester. Spending my time at the Champion has been the greatest honor of my senior year. 

The people I’ve worked with and the skills that I’ve learned have been invaluable to my education. Most students don’t really pay attention to the amount of work happening in the office near Green Hall’s main entrance, but I’m extremely grateful that I did. 

From spending late nights uploading articles to writing stories about topics I never knew of prior, I’ve learned so much about working for a newspaper publication and what it means to be an honorable journalist. As I walk across the stage to receive my diplomas, I will always hold the Champion close  to my heart, and it will forever be something I carry with me as I enter the job field. 

Madison Barry
A-Section Graphic Design

When I first started as a CSER volunteer with the Liberty Champion, I would have never anticipated the journey that would commence afterwards. What began as a few graphics here and there turned into a weekly experience of creatively pouring into this awesome student publication. 

Two years later, I’m glad to say I’m departing with pleasant memories of fun laughter in the office, chips and salsa at 11 a.m. and plenty of late Monday nights. I didn’t know that 10 hours in front of a screen each production day could pass by in the blink of an eye, but it does. Not only did I love my experience as the graphic designer, but I also had the pleasure of being surrounded by joyful, truth-seeking and God-loving people. 

Even when we were stuck in the office at 9 p.m. after finding out we had to change the layout of two major pages, my co-workers never hesitated to get the job done with excellence and dedication. I’m assured that I’ll forever look back to memories in this office with great joy.

Joshua James Quigg
Digital Media Producer

As my time at Liberty comes to an end, I’m left feeling incredibly grateful for this season. Over the past several years, the Lord has altered my life in ways I could have never imagined: a random freshman roommate turning into my best friend and brother-in-law, a double date at Mister Goodies turning into a wonderful wife and a writing practicum I wanted nothing to do with turning into my beloved last-semester job. 

The Champion has been just another example in my life of Christ’s never-ending faithfulness. My time working here was short, but I was honored to work alongside so many kind, talented individuals who immediately welcomed me into their family. My position as the digital media producer is somewhat made-up, so I was able to prance around the office and make my own projects with my own deadlines while the rest of the staff pulled 12-hour production days every single week. I was fortunate to be exposed to a well-oiled machine and learn what makes a team operation like the Champion flow so smoothly. 

My time here has taught me the importance of effective servant leadership and the value of selflessness, not only in the workplace, but in life. I am beyond blessed for my Liberty experience and the many lessons God has shown me here.

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