Georgia Geen, Executive Editor
The young woman I was when I started at VCU had so much going for her, but she refused to acknowledge any of it. She was convinced, genuinely, that she had little to offer.
I’ve kept this to myself throughout my four years at The Commonwealth Times, that in the beginning I hustled from story to story out of a fear of messing up, never allowing myself to enjoy my work deeply.
I was in for a rude awakening, because in an industry where corrections are part of life, mistakes will always happen. But something I learned along the way has become my mantra, that the fast-paced, cyclical nature of journalism means there is always another chance to get it right and fix what was broken yesterday.
The CT taught me a lot about journalism, mostly that I can’t get enough of it. Despite the chaos that was wrangling a student newspaper into shape once a week, I was always enamored with the final product every Tuesday night — or Wednesday morning — even if I couldn’t stand to look at for very long because of how many hours I had already spent editing every story.
My life has turned itself on its head from the time I started college to now. I can say definitively I might not have made it here, in every sense of that phrase, if it weren’t for the sense of purpose and community The CT brought me. And my life, along with everyone else’s, has done another 180 in the past few months.
I had assumed my farewell would be printed in the last print issue of my college career. Instead, the last issue of The CT with my name in it published before our lives turned upside-down. I wish I had known that would be the last time I would see my staff together in person, so I would have had the chance to commemorate the end of my time at the paper surrounded by the people who have made it so special. This is but another reminder that nothing is for certain, an idea I’ve had to grapple with as someone who has had a life plan since middle school and keeps numerous spreadsheets.
The moment I decided to attend VCU, I searched “VCU student newspaper” and found The CT. I wanted so badly to be part of the student newspaper, to find a group of young journalists to learn from and grow with. I saw the executive editor position on the top of the masthead when I grabbed a copy at accepted students day, and fantasized about what I viewed as an inkling of a possibility that I might fill those shoes one day.
Time went fast, and that day came quickly. Whether by default or because people saw something in me, or a little bit of both, I came into the position I had dreamed of for years. Now, my horizon is bigger and more uncertain than ever before, dwarfing the vastness I felt ahead of me when I was entering college.
The list of people I need to acknowledge is long, but I’ll take a shot at it. Thank you to Jesse Adcock and Siona Peterous for being my first editors, and to Sarah King for your example of leadership that showed me how strong The CT is. Fadel Allassan, you taught me so much in the time that we worked together, and for that I’ll always be thankful; Zach Joachim and Ryan Rich, working with you two was one of the highlights of my college career, and I look back on the journalism we produced and the memories we made with pride.
To my staff over the past year — Andrew Ringle, Hannah Eason, Noah Fleischman, Iman Mekonen, Tagwa Shammet, Jon Mirador, Sammy Newman, Karly Andersen, Alexandra Zernik, Eduardo Acevedo, Jeffrey Pohanka, Andy Caress, Rey Carlson and Kam Gilham — I’ll keep it brief because you’ll be getting personalized notes in your warm ’n’ fuzzies, but know that it has been a sincere pleasure to work with you all. Seeing your hard work inspired me to be a better leader and journalist every day, and I’m so proud of the innovation we achieved in the past year.
I hope to have a long career in journalism, and I believe my memories at The CT will inform my work for years to come, and provide comfort during tough moments, of which I fear there will be many. Of course, I’ve learned recently not to depend on expectations, so even if the chaos of life spins me around and shoots me into the stratosphere, I will still have my time at The CT to hold close to my heart.