goodbye grads jessica brady

Jessica Brady, editor in chief of the Collegiate Times, sits at her desk in the newsroom.

I have been part of the Collegiate Times for four years. I’m not sure that the reality has even set in yet that it’s actually over. I started at the CT as an assistant copy editor. The newsroom looked different then. It was full of different faces, and the furniture was organized differently. But no matter how the landscape has changed, my feelings about the CT have remained the same.

Student journalism is important. It provides training for students before they enter the field. I can honestly say, and I am sure that many people on the staff would agree with me, that being a part of the Collegiate Times has taught me more than my classes ever have been able to. So many important skills — problem solving, critical thinking, ethical decision making, leadership, teamwork — can only be learned through experience.

If you know me personally, you know I am a very sensitive person. Sure, I am tough. I’m not afraid to stand up for myself, and I am outspoken, but I also take things very personally. That has been the hardest part of being editor in chief — balancing being in charge with a strong desire to be liked.

My skin has thickened a good few inches over the last year. Someone once tweeted at me “Do your job,” and people have called for my resignation. That’s been really hard to deal with — especially if it’s over an opinion piece with which I didn’t even agree. I once called my dad crying about an opinion piece that I hated, but still felt it was my duty to publish it. He said, “You’re a better paper for publishing it.” And he is right.

At the Collegiate Times, we want to be your source of Virginia Tech and Blacksburg news. That means that our opinion section also reflects the diversity of views held by the student body. Diversity is a good thing, even if it makes you angry. It can be really hard to read something with which you wholeheartedly disagree. But the fact of the matter is that those views are not only out there, but held by your classmates. Read ideas with which you disagree because they can help you understand the other side of the discussion, can lead to productive conversations and can strengthen or change your views.

As student journalists, we make mistakes. There’s no way around that. We haven’t been working in the field for 20 years; we don’t always know what the right thing to do is, but we try our best to write the truth and act ethically. Even still, student journalists can make powerful and meaningful contributions to the community. Over the past four years, my friends at the paper have constantly impressed me with the detail and depth of their reporting.

The work of the Collegiate Times depends also on its readers. Student journalism needs your support. Read articles. Pick up the print paper. Share stories. Engage with the content. (Nicely) let the paper know if there is a mistake. Write letters to the editor.

I have been so inspired and impressed by Virginia Tech students’ passion for improving Title IX at Virginia Tech. At the walkout, I was moved by the stories I heard and people I saw. Do not let your passion diminish until you see the changes you want to see. Do not forget that the CT can be an avenue for having your voice heard. I am so grateful to the CT for so many reasons, and one of them is that I have learned so much about Virginia Tech and Blacksburg and heard so many of the community’s stories.

I am also grateful to the CT for all of the wonderful people I have met. It has been so amazing working with the many intelligent, funny and kind people that I am lucky enough to call some of my best friends. One of the best parts of being part of the staff is working with people who are fun, but who also care about what’s going on in the world. Just last night we discussed higher education in the United States over margs at El Rod’s.

As I already mentioned, I joined the CT as a freshman. I joined with my friend Meg Connors. Meg, it has been amazing and humbling to work by your side these last four years. You are going to kill the game next year and I am so excited to see all that you do and accomplish. I know that we are friends for life. Going through this phase with you has been such a pleasure, and I am so excited for us to take on the next phase of our lives together.

Melissa Fairfax, Zack Wajsgras, Lewis Millholland and Andrea Pappas, I wouldn’t have loved the CT so deeply if it weren’t for encouragement and kindness in welcoming me to the newsroom. You all taught me so much and got me to drink the journalism Kool-Aid.

Sam Smith, you are the perfect combination of fun and intelligence. I am so grateful for our continued friendship and so glad that the CT brought us together. I look up to you so much and we always have a blast together. Let’s brunch soon.

Katelyn Meade, I don’t know what I would do without you. I still remember the first time that we met. I went home and told Meg, “I just met a really cool person named Katelyn.” Little did I know that many wine and cheese nights later, we would be friends forever. I can’t wait to see you soon.

Sajanee Chithranjan, I am so glad you joined the CT. As many people know, Saj and I went to middle and high school together and were and are very close. It has been so wonderful to share this passion with you throughout our time at Tech.

Mike Liu, I have loved going through the law school application process with you. We have had ups and downs, but I always knew that if I came to the newsroom, we could talk it over. Sharing the last four years in the newsroom with you has been so fantastic.

John Battiston, you bring such a light to the newsroom. Your puns, kindness, and inclusivity, make the newsroom a better place. You are going to do so awesome next year in the real world.

Emily Hannah, your positivity and happiness are so contagious. I am so glad we have been able to work together over the last year. I am so excited to see where you help lead the CT next year.

Izzy Rossi, getting to know you over the last few years has been such a blast. We share so many interests in common, and it has been so fun sharing that in the newsroom. You are so sweet and newsy, and I know that when you graduate, you are going to take the journalism world by storm.

Ashley Long, I am not nervous at all about leaving the CT in your hands. You work so hard and care so much. I am so excited to follow along next year — I know you have great things planned. I am also lucky enough to call you one of my best friends.

To everyone I have worked with on the staff, you all impress me so much, and I cherish each of our relationships.

Join the CT. You will be part of some of the most important conversations on campus and will also meet some of the best people in the world.

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