If you told me when I stepped foot on campus in 2016 that over the next four years I would write 100-plus articles for, and serve as co-editor-in-chief of, the Kenyon Collegian, I would have laughed in your face. Having no real journalism experience, my only Collegian- related goal entering college was to appear in “Class Clash” one day.
Instead of taking the traditional route and writing about my predictions or fears for the future of Kenyon, or reflecting on the events of this year, I want to use my farewell to thank every person who made me the writer and editor I am today.
My all-too-brief pre-Kenyon journalism career started and ended at North Bethesda Middle School. I dreamed of being a sports journalist, and my first assignment was to cover the cross-country race. When our school’s top runner got edged out at the end of the race, I asked him how it felt to lose after coming so close (admittedly phrased in a harsher manner than intended). The cross-country coach chewed me out for that one and the negative experience drove me away from journalism for seven years.
Flash forward to the spring of 2017 when I was pledging Delta Tau Delta. Back then, there was a tradition that new members had to get the signatures of every active member of the fraternity through various means. The nature of these signature tasks differed based on the class year of the active member, and the seniors were allowed to ask the new members to complete a modest favor for them. I never knew how much my life would change when I asked then-executive director of the Collegian Nathaniel Shahan ’17 what I would have to do to get his signature. “Write an article for the Collegian.” Shahan asked me to choose a section: news, features, arts, opinions or sports. Naturally, I chose sports. I was then set up with another vital figure in my journalistic career: then-Sports Editor Noah Nash ’19.
After writing my first article, Nash texted me and asked if I wanted to write another. I thought, “sure, why not,” and continued my work through the rest of that year, submitting all of my articles remotely. I would write 500 words and send the piece to Nash, and the article would appear (heavily edited) in the paper the next day. The next semester, Nash asked me to come to the office and help then-Sports Editor Peter Dola ’18 as a sports assistant—my first promotion. Dola, or “Petey” as he was affectionately known, was one of the best mentors a young writer could ask for. Not only did he help me come into my own as a reporter, he let me do what no one else was doing at the time: cover one team’s season from start to finish.
The first time I felt like I had something to offer was when I was covering the Lords football team. For other sports, you could find an article as good, if not better, than mine on the Kenyon athletics website. When it came to football, however, I aimed to have the most accurate and detailed coverage of every game. I would be remiss if I didn’t use this section to thank Thomas Merkle ’20, who was always so great about giving me whatever I needed for my stories. It would have been so easy for him to avoid the media after some of those painful losses in that 0-10 season, but instead he was always willing to talk and open to all of my questions. I also thank him for trusting me with his story, which I consider the highlight of my Collegian career.
After only one semester as a full editor, in the lowly sports section, I was somehow promoted to editor-in-chief. It is highly unusual for both editors-in-chief to never have worked for the news section, and there was certainly an adjustment period for former Design Editor Becca Foley ’20 and I. The first couple of months were filled with 4 a.m. print times, disgruntled staff members saying we should transition to an online-only publication for the semester and situations out of our control like the week our Adobe license expired during production.
Once we came into our own, I was proud of the paper we were able to run. In a time when print media is dying—and in the middle of the COVID-19 lockdown—we still put out PDF issues every week. Thanks to the work of our incredible staff, specifically Becca, who had the unenviable task of designing the paper remotely every week, we ensured that this time of crisis will be chronicled in the Kenyon archives, and not just on our subpar website. The largest goal I had entering my tenure was to ensure that the Kenyon Collegian was the College’s paper of record, providing a truly unfiltered version of the 2019-20 Kenyon experience. I hope we did a good job.
Now that I have done my time as editor-in-chief, I must thank every executive editor who came before me and apologize for any time I ever criticized their decisions. I must extend incredible gratitude to my co-Editor-in-Chief Becca and to Executive Director Tommy Johnson ’20. I think we made a pretty good team. Every staff member of Volume 147 deserves so much credit for the work they did, but I have to specifically thank Senior News Editor Evey Weisblat ’21 for hunting down the best stories and making sure we had a consistent stable of writers to report on them, Jackson Wald ’22 for stepping up and running two sections when we desperately needed a features editor and Andy Kelleher ’22 for making sure I didn’t use an Oxford comma in this sentence. I look forward to the exemplary work I know they will put into Volume 148. The Collegian is in good hands.
To all those who helped me along the way that I don’t have space to mention, thank you so much.