C351. Very few people understand the importance of that classroom. To some it’s just the yearbook room, others know it as Mac Pubs, but everyone on staff knows it as home. There was never a more accepting, loving, and hardworking group of people. I’ve spent four years in that classroom and I would gladly spend four more. I’d give anything to publish one more print paper, pitch stories with my staff once more, and compete in one more journalism contest. Unfortunately, I can’t, but at least I can say goodbye. Because we didn’t get to do a final print paper, which I’m sure would’ve been amazing because my staff is so incredibly creative, I want to use my final article to write one more letter from the editor-in-chief.

These last four years I have joined multiple groups and clubs, been part of programs and organizations bigger than myself, and worked on projects that nobody will ever know I was a part of. I was simply doing my part to create a positive culture and environment for the students of the future that I will never meet. I’ve held leadership positions and I’ve merely been just a member of the group, but I’ve always given what I do 110 percent. With journalism, it’s different. Your name is on what you create and the spotlight is on you when you succeed and when you slip up. In the band I got to hide among 150+ kids and even as a drum major there were three others that shared that spotlight, but not in Brahma News. Your work was solely your own. Students read your articles and saw your name, they saw you at the game holding the camera, you pulling people aside to interview them, and you running around like a chicken with its head cut off to ensure you get enough material for the story. While we are a team, journalism is one of the few organizations where your individual hard work is noticed and credited, and that’s what makes it so special.

I also can’t forget that C351 isn’t just a publication room. Of course, most people join to write, we are a newspaper after all, but we end up doing so much more. We learn as many aspects of journalism as we can and always strive to step out of our comfort zone so when we leave that classroom and school, we’re ready for whatever path we choose to take. Being on staff wasn’t solely about journalism, it was about family. It was about hanging out during lunches, banging our heads against the wall when a computer program crashed before we saved everything, taking enneagram tests, gossiping about the latest celebrity drama, last-minute studying for a test, sitting side-by-side and trying to reach the right word count, throwing out crazy pitch ideas that somehow work, looking in awe at our print paper, and spending every single day building friendships that I will value for the rest of my life.

I’ve been on three staffs and having to say goodbye is always hard, but this year I find myself struggling even more. I have grown so close to this staff and I’m so proud to call them my family. Starting the year off with such a small staff was frightening and stressful. I was worried we’d never have enough material for a print paper or that we wouldn’t have enough stories on the site because so many of us wanted to focus on broadcast journalism, but everything turned out better than I could have imagined. I am so thankful that they allowed me to be their editor and help them grow as journalists while helping me grow as an editor. This year on staff has been phenomenal to say the very least. So to Hope, Karen, Leo, Keely, Delaney, and Ivy, I can’t wait to see what you do in college and watch all of you accomplish your dreams. You are all incredible people and I am forever thankful our lives crossed paths. To Dmitri, our only staffer that isn’t graduating this year, you’re going to do amazing leading next year’s staff. I have never met anyone like you and I love you so much. And to every single person who ever took time out of their day to read our articles and look through our website, thank you for supporting young journalists and encouraging their passions.

As for me and the future ahead, I’m excited to study journalism at UT and hopefully fulfill my dreams of working for National Geographic. Also, I figured since I’ve been on a newspaper staff since seventh grade I should also stick with the cow mascot I’ve had since seventh grade. From a yearling to a brahma and now a longhorn, the only way I can imagine ending this is by saying Hook ‘Em!

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About Jessica Harden

Hey, I'm Jessica Harden and this is my third year on staff. I am the editor-in-chief, I compete in academic UIL journalism, and I am a nationally recognized journalist. Outside of newspaper, I play the flute and I am the drum major. I like to write poetry, I collect vintage cameras, and I dream of being a published author one day. I will attend UT Austin in the fall majoring in journalism at Moody College and I plan on taking a minor in environmental science. Hook 'Em!

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