Letter from the editor: After four years, it’s time to say goodbye
Outgoing editor-in-chief Haley Samsel reflects on her tenure at The Eagle
As the editor-in-chief of The Eagle, you learn how to handle just about anything. You can jump from writing a breaking news story to responding to anxious emails from reporters and readers to meeting with your team of editors about the next print edition. And that’s just in one day.
One thing I never quite learned, though, was how to write about myself, or do any sort of deep reflection about what the past four years have meant to me. Even as I write this, in early April, my thoughts are consumed by all of the things still left to do before I graduate. But, as my friends and family keep reminding me, it’s time to say goodbye.
My life at AU has been inseparable from my life at The Eagle — they began simultaneously and will end the same way. I was an editor by midway through my freshman year, already steeped in a campus that I was just getting to know.
I’ve spent more hours in our MGC 252 office than I’ve spent awake in my apartment this year. I have given my life over to this publication, prioritizing it over pretty much everything else, including (close your eyes, grandparents) my academics.
But the question remains: Why? What has made me want to stay in this job, even when I could barely bring myself to open my email inbox?
The first answer is the importance of The Eagle’s role on this campus. There has never been a day when I haven’t felt the weight of the work we do, and the impact that our journalism can have. This year alone, we’ve put together an incredible multimedia project about AU’s tuition crisis, launched our first-ever podcast, covered our fair share of breaking news and brought context to some of the toughest issues facing the University.
Informing the student body, as well as other segments of the AU community, is one of the most meaningful things I will ever do. I felt that responsibility most when a hate crime targeted black women on our campus in May 2017, prompting several protests, national media coverage and difficult conversations about our staff’s diversity and how we cover marginalized communities.
I also felt that responsibility when we pressed the University to answer questions about the effectiveness of its alert system last summer, and even when we wrote straightforward stories about the issues important to students. Every day at The Eagle is filled with a sense of purpose, and it’s been a privilege to feel that commitment for the past four years.
But the more honest reason that I’ve stuck with it for so long is because of the people. I would not have made it here without the kindness and fierce examples set by my predecessors: Shannon Scovel, Kate Magill and Courtney Rozen. You are my role models, my best mentors and, most importantly, my friends. Thank you for seeing something in me I didn’t see in myself.
I am also indebted to the guidance of Chris Young, our student media advisor, who has never failed to be there for me and any student who needs him. At a school where it’s common for students to feel alienated and alone, you always made me feel like I had someone in my corner.
My non-Eagle friends carried me through some of the worst days, mostly without being aware of it. Your love and support, which was never dependent on what others thought of me or the newspaper, was a relief I needed more than any of you could know.
My family played the largest role in keeping me sane throughout my time at AU. My grandparents in particular listened to many a late-night rant, never failing to pick up the phone no matter what time it was or what they were up to. Your unwavering love reminded me to be more like the person y’all raised me to be: resilient, generous, sincere.
Most of all, I am grateful to the hilarious, dedicated, wonderful people I was lucky enough to be surrounded by in The Eagle office every day. My managing editor team this year (Maria Carrasco, Lydia Calitri, Cordilia James, Sasha Jones, Nickolaus Mack, Kimberly Cataudella, Daniella Ignacio, Emily Martin and Kris Schneider) was fearless in their ambitions to improve their sections, working incredibly hard to mentor their staff members and make our journalism better. I am so proud to have worked alongside y’all and to call many of you my close friends.
Over the course of the past several months, I’ve thought a lot about what the future of The Eagle will look like. There’s no telling what the staff will have accomplished by this time next year, or in the next five years.
But when I think about the freshmen and sophomores who have proven themselves to be some of our most talented reporters and editors yet, I’m no longer afraid of what will happen after I leave MGC 252 for the last time. I know that, once Lydia takes the reins, she will find her footing and take this publication to new heights.
I also know I will miss this place, and my staff, more than I’m willing to admit. Thank you for making it so hard to say goodbye. Know that I will always be cheering you on, even if it’s from thousands of miles away.
Haley Samsel is a senior in the School of International Service and The Eagle’s 2018-2019 editor-in-chief.
This article originally appeared in The Eagle's April 2019 print edition.