Letter from the Editor: Something to be proud of
Outgoing Editor-in-Chief Nina Heller reflects on her four years at The Eagle
When people ask me about college, the first thing I typically talk about is The Eagle. I may be graduating with a degree in journalism, but it often feels like my real major has been The Eagle.
This job was every bit as challenging and demanding as former editors-in-chief warned me it would be, if not more. It’s also been incredibly fulfilling. On a campus where it's easy to feel alone, The Eagle gave me something to be proud of. I’ve demanded so much of this paper because I believe so strongly in it as a tool to do good — even when the going gets tough.
Being the editor-in-chief of a college newspaper is an unusual job, and I don’t think I was prepared for how lonely it would feel at times. I was 20-21 years old and making decisions that had an impact on the people and community around me, often in ways I’m still trying to wrap my head around.
When the pandemic upended my freshman year and moved my entire sophomore year online, The Eagle became my main source of connection to the AU community. Students at AU care about making a difference in our community, and I’ve loved getting to tell their stories, no matter how big or small. I’ve seen the AU community come together in times of joy and tragedy and hope and despair and every time find myself in awe that I got to play a part in chronicling its history.
The community at The Eagle is special and rare and something that is hard to find. One of my favorite parts of The Eagle is that like clockwork, new staff members arrive and learn from people only a few years older than them, if at all, eventually becoming the people they once admired so much.
The Eagle’s role on campus has never been more important, and there is so much to be proud of. We covered the Staff Union’s strike, published an investigation into the failures of AU’s Office of Equity and Title IX, honed in on multimedia content and continued to uplift underrepresented communities in our coverage, to name a few. We won awards, grew our social media presence and held ourselves accountable where we made mistakes. But the things I am most proud of you can’t quantify in numbers. I can’t count the hours I’ve spent in our MGC 252 office or afternoons I’ve had derailed when news breaks, but I can tell you I can’t imagine spending my time doing anything else this year. Knowing I could play a small part in making The Eagle better is something I’ll always be grateful for.
Knowing there are people who are willing to do the work to make it better shows how special this place is, and there’s a few I’d like to thank.
Thank you to Eliza Schloss and Carly Johnson, who were some of my first Eagle friends and people I knew I could always count on. Thank you to Abbie Veitch, Kelsey Carolan, Brianna Crummy, Sophie Austin and Lydia Calitri, who all believed in me long before I did. To Sarah Mattalian and Koz, who kept me afloat, both personally and professionally this year. Thank you to Clare Mulroy and Skye Witley, who were always there to listen and find ways to laugh even amidst chaos. I’m thankful for all of the brilliant managing editors I worked with this year, who worked tirelessly to improve their sections. Another thank you goes to Taraji Ellington, Rebecca Oss and Izzy Fantini who brought their passion for the online and multimedia sections together. I’m also lucky to have people to lean on and learn from like Fariha Rahman, Abby Turner, Sophia Solano, Jordan Young and Abigail Pritchard, to name a few. Thank you to Amy Eisman, John Watson and the rest of the School of Communication faculty for being some of The Eagle’s biggest advocates and allies. I feel so lucky to have learned from journalism’s best these past few years.
None of this would have happened without Clare Mulroy, who convinced me to apply for editor-in-chief despite my initial reluctance. I’m also thankful for all of the alumni who gave me support and advice this year, including Heather Mongilio, Zach Cohen, Brett Zongker and the rest of the Eagle Advisory Board.
Another big thank you goes to my non-Eagle friends. Knowing your opinion of me was never based on what you thought of The Eagle mattered more than you realize and helped me through the days that were the toughest.
I know The Eagle has a bright future ahead of it. There will always be ups and downs, and I’m excited to see what the next generation of Eagle staff does to meet them. I can’t wait for the vision and passion Abigail Pritchard will bring to the table, ready to meet the challenges and find her voice as a leader.
Many students call AU home, but there’s a little room on the second floor of MGC that felt like home to me much more than other corners of this university ever did. It’s bittersweet to say goodbye, but it’s a little easier knowing I get to carry with me some of the things The Eagle gave me.
Copy editing done by Isabelle Kravis.