By Victoria Gill-Gomez
Outgoing News Editor
I imagined writing this final piece in the proximity of my now favorite sleepy town on the river, or in the creaky silence of the Publications House. Unfortunately (and very much to the cliché), we do not always get what we want. I am saying goodbye in a tight studio apartment, hours away from the team, town, and mentors I have cultivated much of my growth from.
This is not how many of us want to go out. COVID-19 really did a number on me and other students living with financial insecurity, to the point where I had to step away from this position halfway through this semester. I did not realize how truly heartbroken I would be to cut another part of my life short until I had to admit it to the people who came to mean so much to me.
The beginning of my relationship with The Elm was not easy. Very much like a bad relationship, we took breaks, said mean things about the other, and honestly thought about giving up.
Student journalism is difficult, and I did not join The Elm with the exuberant interest that many of my peers did upon entering WC. This job is meant for a specific type of person and I was definitely not that person when I entered college — even if I thought I was.
The Elm provided me with a renewal of how I looked at writing, storytelling, and responsibility to my fellow collaborators and community. Writing is often perceived as a solo action, but it is actually a collaborative effort. I was able to experience this in other mediums of writing besides journalism, but something about cultivating immediate, intimate relationships with the natives of this town, administration, and strangers walking alongside me on this campus kept me excited and diligent within the constant evolution of our campus culture.
In this time, I wrote for every section — and I cannot believe I managed to dip a toe into Sports — but remained dedicated to Opinion and News, where I also headed editor positions.
To the editors I worked with in the past, thank you for dealing with me and my silly errors.
To the current editorial staff, you are phenomenal. It has been exciting to see what everyone brings to their respected section each year: reviving an old column, breaking an important story, giving voice to an unpopular opinion. But this year’s team has gone above and beyond to cultivate a richness in the college experience as we grip onto online platforms to stay connected. I am blown away each week and wish you all could be MVP all the time.
To my editor-in-chief, MacKenzie Brady, you kicked butt. You made challenging decisions this year whose toll on you I can only imagine. Thank you for your sacrifice, dedication, and compassion to this team. Your constant support in every piece of work I have shown you has been handled with such care and thoughtfulness that I know you have a bright future ahead. Thank you for the memories of us screaming each Monday back in junior year and continuing to scream about the pieces we wrote this year. Without you and your support, I never would have gotten this far. Thank you for believing in me and for your unwavering friendship.
To our advisor, Dan, it took me a while to warm up to you. A lot of that had to do with insecurity in myself, but you showed me nothing but guidance and support in the new ideas I wanted to bring to the Opinion Section when I first took over as editor. I would not have gained the confidence to write the stories I did for either section without you taking over as The Elm advisor. Thank you for helping me grow as a journalist.
And, of course, to my phenomenal co-editor and new head honcho, Erica Quinones, I could not be any amount of who I am without having known you in or outside of The Elm. We had a rough fall semester with zero writers, and we still managed to curate and break some of my now favorite stories. You blow me away with your thoughtfulness, elegance, humor, and talent. You make it all look so easy and it pushes me to be better. Thank you for reminding me that doing my best, even though it may not perfect, is good enough. I am excited to see how you take charge and what stories you tell next year. Hopefully, you will be able to see the cursed image that our predecessor, Cassy Sottile, put on the News computer once you return to the Publications House. Keep up the good fight, I will be checking in.
To all of the sources who I have had the pleasure of speaking with for my pieces, thank you for entrusting me with your personal information and your vulnerability in answering my questions or challenges.
Many of you know me from a few headlines or hastily written pieces. Students, I ask you to remain diligent regarding campus changes, thoughtful about your position in this established town community, and gentle to everyone you encounter. Do not let anyone make you doubt your passions but know when to step away and show up for yourself.
Thank you for the stories, Washington College, even the ones that did not make it to print.
Featured Photo caption: Outgoing News Editor and senior Victoria Gill-Gomez says farewell to The Elm and the people who influenced them throughout their tenure. Photo courtesy of Katy Shenk.