As I sit down to write this I am only days away from graduating. The countdown on my laptop says it five days, six hours and 20 minutes away to be exact. Despite being that close, there’s a lot I still do not know.
I’m still iffy on my taxes. I don’t quite understand the point of separating clothes by color to wash them. I am hopeless when it comes to all math.
There are few things that I know to be true though.
It’s not easy to put out a newspaper during a pandemic. If you know me, you know that I’m one of those weirdos whose heart beats for print publications — and that was taken away from us this semester. The Editorial Staff was faced with turning The Arkansas Traveler into a fully digital publication in a matter of months. It’s a change that has been a long time coming, but that made it no easier.
It was a year of operating entirely remote. There were no long nights in the newsrooms or in-person laughter over highs and lows during pitch meetings.
The last year has been a learning experience for the Traveler staff. We failed — a lot. But we also got back up a lot and put out content that I am incredibly proud of. It was not a year in which we broke the ceiling and changed student journalism forever — a girl can dream — but we did lay a foundation for a better tomorrow.
The Arkansas Traveler staff that will bring you our beloved monthly print issue once again this fall is an incredible one, and they just might be the ones to break that ceiling.
So to the staff that did the unthinkable, thank you. You guys are the literal lights of my life.
And to the School of Journalism and Strategic Media, thank you. Because if there is another thing I know, it is that the journalism school is one of the best — if not the best — on campus. In the halls of Kimpel I found a home because of the incredible staff and students.
So if someone other than the staff I send this to and my mother reads this, just know there is a place for you too in Kimpel Hall — you just have to be willing to take it.
There is a long list of people that I owe more thanks than I can ever give, so feel free to bounce now unless you’re one of them.
To my editors who I can never thank enough for their work and perseverance this year.
To the reporters and photographers who worked tirelessly, you are truly the lifeblood of this newspaper.
To Professor Schulte who terrifies me endlessly, is the most passionate professor I have ever met and who makes me want to be a better writer every day.
To Professor Jordan who let me ramble to him incessantly and who always has the best advice — and comebacks.
To Dr. Rob Wells who was the first person at the UofA who made me believe in myself as a reporter and has been a constant from the moment I first walked into his office.
To Robyn Ledbetter for always supporting me and The Traveler.
To Professor Ray Minor for being the professor who made me fall in love with journalism as a freshman who didn’t know what she was getting herself into.
To the other student media managers for making it through one of the toughest years we could have imagined. We survived.
To the Lemke Digital Media Lab members who I don’t think I would have gotten through college without. #grimaldigordoforever
To Kate (Duby Sister) for being my right hand and a never ending source of support and laughter.
To Abby Zimmardi for being the other half of the Law Firm of Abby & Abbi and being the best friend and fellow journalist a person could dream of.
That list could go on forever, but I’m trying to limit how much I cry while I write this. It has been an honor to serve as editor in chief this year and I can only hope that this newspaper means a fraction of what it means to me, to you.
I hope anyone who reads this finds a home in Kimpel Hall, whether it’s at the newspaper, another student media outlet, in a classroom or even if it’s just through the publication itself when it hits the stands again this fall.
Kimpel Hall forever.
Abbi Ross is a graduating news and editorial journalism major, the now former editor-in-chief of The Arkansas Traveler and is on the search for a reporting job in the fall. If you work at a hiring newspaper, please “hit her up."