Senior Sendoff: A rare personal narrative

News Co-Editor Annie Faulkner signs off. Photo by Lauren Gdowski.


As a news writer, I have rarely had the opportunity to insert my own views and experiences into my stories. After years of striving for objectivity above all else, I find myself writing my final story — and I believe I have earned the right to pen sentiments that, for once, have not been meticulously researched and fact-checked. As a rare final indulgence, I am writing an exploration of my time working on the Collegian and exactly how formative it has been to my time at Butler. 

For some people, the transition to campus life is easy. I was not one of those people. 

During my first weeks at Butler, I had a difficult time finding my place on this campus. I was anxious, depressed and simply unhappy. I enjoyed my coursework, but beyond that, I was lost. In fact, I had begun conducting research on transferring and was strongly considering leaving Butler at the end of my first semester. 

It was clear to my family that I was not doing well, and I could tell how concerned they all were about my well-being. My sister-in-law, who had served as an editor for The Duke Chronicle during her undergraduate days, pushed me to seek out the student newspaper as a way to become more involved on campus. Reluctantly, I gave in and applied — famously, the only Collegian staff member known to have ever applied on Handshake

Despite my initial apprehension, I immediately fell in love with this paper and with this community. I was so nervous at first, not knowing anyone else on staff, and not even knowing where to sit during my first few all-staff meetings as the entire Collegian staff crammed into our tiny Fairbanks office. However, our then-Managing Editor Meghan Stratton welcomed me to sit by her on the floor, and that is where I sat for just about every meeting afterward. 

Being a Collegian reporter has its trials and tribulations. I remember the frustration of having entire pages of articles cut for space. I remember the infuriating learning curve of adapting to writing in AP style for the first time — and mourning the loss of my beloved Oxford commas. But most of all, I remember how proud I was when I would receive positive feedback from my editors, and how fulfilling it felt when I would finally see my stories come to life in print and online. 

I am the last staff member remaining who was writing for the Collegian during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through those months, it would have been so easy to succumb to circumstance and stop publishing for those critical final issues. However, under then-Editor-in-Chief Jessica Lee’s fearless leadership, the presses did not stop. I wrote articles on the rapid changes brought on by the pandemic from my parents’ kitchen table, painstakingly transcribing interviews into the wee hours of the morning. In an era characterized by chaos and uncertainty, the Collegian provided me with stability and a sense of connection to the Butler community, even though we were isolated and scattered across the country. 

After being selected as an assistant news editor that May, I spent all summer waiting in the same kind of aching excitement that a child has while trying to fall asleep on Christmas Eve. At last, the first day of editorial retreat finally came — and immediately, we had a COVID-19 scare and the rest of our retreat was moved online. Nevertheless, I had never been so happy or proud to be a part of anything. 

Those publication nights were some of the most wonderfully stressful times of my career at Butler. Sometimes it was then-News Editor Ellie Allen and I single-handedly trying to solve geopolitical issues through our work; other times, it was me curling up in a blanket under my desk and watching “Dance Moms” to cope with the nail-biting anxiety of the 2020 presidential election. Even when I was in the office until 5 in the morning, I knew that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. 

It was that love that made it so difficult to step away from the Collegian during my junior year. I seriously considered staying on campus solely because of my obligation to this paper — however, I knew that I needed to leave and take the opportunities that were coming next. I spent the fall 2021 semester studying abroad in Rennes, France and the spring 2022 semester participating in the Washington D.C. learning semester. Without what I had learned from my time at this publication, I don’t think I would have been at all successful during my year off campus. 

But yet, during my time away, I became increasingly unsure about whether or not I would be returning to the Collegian when I came back to Butler. I was worried that I would not have the time to commit fully to this paper again, as I knew I would have so many daunting responsibilities this year — studying for the LSAT, completing the senior capstones for both of my majors and writing the dreaded honors thesis. 

However, my doubts went away in April when the article “A recent history of SGA and DEI” was published. After reading it from my rat-infested apartment building in Washington, it was all I could think about for days. Ellie and the rest of the team were in the office working on that story until past 7 a.m. that morning — which may be a record for the latest night in the office, at least that I can recall. It was excruciatingly painful that I could not be there to gush over those editors in person, so I did what every disconnected paper alumna does: I sent Insomnia Cookies to the newsroom the following week. 

I knew that I absolutely could not miss out on being a part of that for another year. I could not come back to Butler without coming back to the Collegian. 

And yet, that was nerve-wracking, because nearly all of the familiar faces on the editorial board had graduated. I was afraid that I had been gone for too long and missed out on too much. When I arrived at the editorial retreat in August, I found myself in a room full of strangers — I felt like I was a first-year again, out-of-place and unfamiliar. 

I grossly underestimated how easy it would be to find a family in this editorial board. In my last year at Butler, I have met people that I know will be lifelong friends. Every single member of this year’s board is so gifted and so passionate about their craft; we have done work this year that I am incredibly proud of, and there are some long-term passion projects started that I cannot wait to see finished down the road. After getting to know the rising juniors and seniors on this editorial board, I am certain that my class could not be leaving this publication in better hands. 

Now my time at the Collegian is coming to an end. I have written nearly 50 articles during my tenure, and I have contributed content for the news, opinion, culture, multimedia, photo and design sections — tragically, the sports pitch from Culture Co-Editor Owen Madrigal, Opinion Co-Editor Aidan Gregg and me on this season’s “Drag Race” finale did not come to be. I have interviewed countless figures on Butler’s campus and beyond, from a local non-profit founder to a U.S. Senate candidate. I have traveled to Cincinnati as a reporter and to New York City as an editor. It has not yet sunk in that this byline will be my last. 

I would be remiss not to recognize some of the past and present news editors who have been formative to my time at the Collegian. 

Meghan Stratton was the first person to welcome me into this community during my first year and was also the person who encouraged me to apply for the editorial board. When I had an unfortunate 20th birthday that featured my first parking ticket from BUPD, the cancellation of spring break and the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Meghan sent Papa John’s cookies to my parents’ house at a moment’s notice, which tells you everything you need to know about what a caring and supportive person she is. 

Sorell Grow, my first news editor, was instrumental in helping me develop my writing abilities. She and Ellie always gave me assignments that pushed me out of my comfort zone, which was crucial to my evolution as a writer. This year especially, I have often looked back on Sorell’s example of leadership within the news section, and I hope I have lived up to her legacy. Of equal importance, Sorell also taught me the value of a good pun

Ellie Allen is the best friend and mentor on this staff that I could have asked for. While my sophomore year was a divine test both academically and mentally, Ellie was always there to support me through the most difficult days of my collegiate career, and she made long publication nights in the office much better — even when we were both delirious from exhaustion. 

Joey Krisko was a delight to have as my fellow assistant news editor, and he was always there to commiserate with me about our shared future plans to attend law school. When Joey graduated in December 2020 and wrote his senior sendoff, I was distraught. In this full-circle moment, I can only hope the underclassmen of the current editorial board are as upset by my departure as I was by his. 

Gabi Morando is such a lovely person to work with. She is an incredibly gifted writer, a hard worker, a beacon of good humor and an all-around wonderful human being. I am so beyond lucky to have had her as a co-editor this year, and I can’t overstate how much of a saint Gabi is for tolerating my antics. I cannot wait to see what she does going forward, both for this paper and beyond. 

Alison Miccolis started as a first-year reporter when I was an assistant news editor, and even though she was attending Butler remotely, she was probably the most thorough news reporter on staff. I love to tell people: “I was her editor when she was a first year, then I studied abroad, and when I came back, she was my boss!” I have watched Alison grow from a brand-new reporter covering first-year orientation to a managing editor amplifying the voices of abuse victims. She will be an unstoppable force as editor-in-chief next year, and I am so incredibly proud of her. 

I would also like to thank our fearless faculty advisor, Dr. Tatsiana Karaliova. I cannot emphasize enough how much care she shows each and every one of us, nor can I overstate how grateful I am for her guidance during my time on the editorial board. 

Since the foundation of the Collegian 137 years ago, countless students have passed through the proverbial newsroom door, and I am just one minuscule piece of that legacy. I am one of hundreds of students whose experience at this university was fundamentally shaped by their time working for this publication. I am so grateful for the experiences and opportunities this publication has allowed me to pursue, and I know that whatever comes next in my life will be possible because of the lessons I have learned here. It is my hope that for another 137 years, students will continue to find their place on Butler’s campus at the Collegian — just like I did.


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