Of all the gifts I’ve ever been given, the book of quotations my aunt gave me when I turned 16 holds a top spot. It is not inherently special — a retired library book, printed in 1965 and weathered from nearly six decades of use. The exterior is ordinary, but the best part of a book should never be visible until it is opened and read. I believe literature is a gift to the world unlike any other. In the pages of a story or lines of a poem, experiences are shared and meaning is created.
Journalism and literature are inseparably linked. Like novelists or poets, journalists do so much more than record and distribute facts. Literature is not a mere description of the world — it gives life to language and pulls meaning from strings of words. In the retelling of events, journalists are called upon to tie words together in ways that encapsulate emotion, convey context and achieve accuracy.
This is no easy task. To accomplish these ideals as a journalist at the height of one’s career is impressive enough — but to accomplish them as a student? That is nearly unheard of. Yet as I look around at the individuals that make up The Index, I feel so honored and unworthy to appear beside them. These students have accomplished so much in four short years. The emphasis they have placed on producing the highest quality reporting echoes the standards of top newspapers. What is even more remarkable to me is how they have managed this unceasing responsibility while being some of the kindest people I know.
Ryan always asks me how I am, and he waits for me to answer — even when it’s a Tuesday afternoon, and the paper is at its most stressful part of production. Beth is one of the most dedicated people I know, and she inspires me to actually come to class prepared. Rachel takes on extra projects because she knows it will make someone else’s life easier. Erica waves at me every time I see her at Barnett’s doors and makes everyone feel comfortable and included. Trevor always responds to my frantic texts and has been invaluable as a coworker and as a friend. Genna, you are my parting gift to The Index — I see so much talent and kindness in you. It is beautiful to work with beautiful people, and dozens of others show their kindness to me daily.
I can’t find the right way to say goodbye, so I suppose I will let someone else do it for me. In my treasured book of quotations, one from Ernest Hemingway means a great deal to me:
“The world is a fine place and worth the fighting for, and I hate very much to leave it.”
My friends in student media — the best advice I can leave you with is to find what makes your world a fine place worth fighting for and then fight for it. If that is journalism, great! Fight every day to be the best journalist you can be. If it is something else, that is just as well. Fight for what matters to you, and when you must leave it, go without regret.