Zack Wajsgras

Zack Wajsgras, managing editor.

When I decided to go to Virginia Tech, the very first thing I wanted to do once I stepped on campus was join the student newspaper. At my first Gobblerfest, I stumbled upon the Collegiate Times table and put my name down on a recruitment card. Four years later, this amazing organization has defined nearly every part of my college experience. 

I began as a reporter and photographer and quickly discovered how many incredible opportunities the paper would give me. From shooting concerts in the pit in Burruss to lying face down on the field between the lines of cadets jumping to Enter Sandman before football games, I’ve had a front row seat to some of the most exciting moments on campus because of this paper. 

I have covered two U.S. presidential candidates (including our current president), Frank Beamer's last moments as a coach, the explosive start of Justin Fuente's career, famous musicians, senators, protests related to national news events and solidarity rallies for dozens of different causes, just to name a few. I’ve seen this community experience tragedy, triumph, excitement and hope in every shape and form. None of it would have been possible without the Collegiate Times.

But the paper has been more than just a job for me. What really stands out is not just the amazing things I’ve gotten to see and do, but the people who were with me along the way. Every year with the paper has given me dozens of lasting friendships with people from nearly every major and background on campus.

As I moved up, becoming a photo editor my sophomore year and a managing editor my senior year, I’ve only gotten closer with the people I work with. I’ve seen firsthand how incredibly difficult it is to make a newspaper every night. Yet, the endless memories of our accomplishments in the newsroom are the greatest moments I’ve had at this school.

I would be remiss without emphasizing how important the work Andrea Pappas and Lewis Millholland, our editor-in-chief and my co-managing editor respectively, has been. They are truly two of the most talented and driven individuals I've ever met and I've been in awe of what they are capable of accomplishing.

The Collegiate Times is special because it unites students through a love of storytelling that ultimately reflects how important the Blacksburg community is to all of us who work here. It teaches people what it means to be a journalist and how important attention to detail is in life. It allows people to put their thoughts and ideas out into the world through a love of writing or photography. It gives young students the opportunity to do something meaningful and contribute to their community in a very real way.

It’s been an honor to work with the many student journalists who drop what they are doing to contribute to this publication. As literally every person who has ever worked here knows, balancing being a full-time student with round the clock journalism is not easy. Yet every year, more students show up to give their very best to this paper.

What we do matters. The stories we tell are important. The lessons we learn along the way stick with us for life and the impact we make will continue to influence the people in this community.

Looking back and trying to pick a favorite memory is too difficult because there are simply too many. I will never be able to understand how a piece of paper with a logo on it allowed me to live life so richly. But I am filled with hope as the next generation of Collegiate Times staff takes the reigns to pick up where we left off, doing good work with a sense of professionalism and dedication that is second to none. As I leave the newsroom for the last time as a member of this staff, I am filled with gratitude for the past four years and hope for what the future holds for the Collegiate Times.

I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I never joined the paper. Very rarely do people find a path that reveals their innermost passions in life so clearly. I’m so glad I found mine.

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