Letter from the editor: My AU journey is over, but my legacy lives on

Outgoing editor-in-chief Lydia Calitri reflects on her time at AU despite having her last semester cut short

Letter from the editor: My AU journey is over, but my legacy lives on

To say that this year has been a challenge for me is quite an understatement. After spending many days and nights in The Eagle office holding staff meetings, working on breaking news stories and designing web and print projects, I was looking forward to finally celebrating my accomplishments with my friends and staff at the Student Media release party and, later, at graduation. After four tumultuous years as a student journalist, everything was starting to pay off, and I went on spring break to recharge for the second half of my final semester.

That’s when the coronavirus pandemic cut my last semester short, and everything that I was looking forward to, was suddenly gone.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve taken time to grieve over the things that were taken away from me this year. I’ve accepted the fact that I will not have an in-person graduation. I will not have a celebration for all the personal and academic struggles that I’ve had to overcome these past four years. I will not get to say goodbye to the friends, peers and professors that have helped and guided me throughout my college journey.

As upsetting as this is, I realized that there is no point in lamenting over the things that I can’t change. I learned this quickly at a young age when my mother passed away in 2010. Of course, it’s still sad for me to think about all the major life moments that she won’t be a part of, but instead, I think about the moments I did get to spend with her. So instead of getting upset over how my last semester was taken away from me, I want to reflect on the things that AU has given me over the past four years.

Being at AU has allowed me to study journalism among the field’s best and brightest. It’s been a privilege to learn from professors like Lynne Perri, Jane Hall and Windsor Johnston, who have done so much to shape me into the reporter I am today. 

I’m also grateful to the editors-in-chief who came before me, Kate Magill, Courtney Rozen and Haley Samsel, because, without their guidance and leadership, I would have never thought that I was capable of building upon their success. I can only hope that, with the limited resources I have, I can do for Sophie Austin what they have done for me to prepare her for the journey she has ahead of her as the next editor-in-chief.

Without AU, I wouldn’t have found The Eagle. I joined the staff during a really difficult time in my life, and over the years, MGC 252 became my home away from home. I often joke that I live in an office without windows, but when you get to work with the brilliant reporters that I do every day, you never want to leave. The friends that I’ve made on staff over the years are friends I will have for the rest of my life. It’s been a privilege to learn and grow as a journalist and a person beside them. 

I’m so thankful to all of the managing editors I’ve worked with this year, including Brianna Crummy, Daniella Ignacio, Spencer Nusbaum, Riya Kohli, Sam McAllister, Kimberly Cataudella, Kelly McDonnell, Isabella Goodman, Susanna Compare, Willard West, Phoebe Jessup, Sophie Lampl and Kelsey Carolan. We’ve done so many things this year as a paper that we’ve never done before, and without all of your hard work and dedication, none of it would have been possible. In the past few months alone, we’ve created an entirely new website dedicated to covering the coronavirus pandemic instead of our semester print edition, and our online audience continues to grow as a result. Now more than ever, we need student journalism, and speaking directly to my staff, you should all be proud to be a part of covering history.

My AU journey would not be complete without acknowledging the people outside of school who have stood by me and supported me over the past four years. Thank you to my family and close friends for listening to my frustrations, comforting me in times of need and believing in me when I didn’t believe in myself. You’ve given me strength during the most challenging transition of my life, and for that, I’m eternally grateful.

I don’t need a graduation ceremony to celebrate my time at AU. I don’t need to walk across a stage to prove that I left a mark on this school, because as editor-in-chief, I already have. Although my college journey hasn’t been easy, I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, and I’m stepping into the next chapter of my life with the people and the memories that made it worthwhile.

lcalitri@theeagleonline.com

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