The best four years

Published by Sarah Anderson, Date: April 27, 2024

For the longest time, I wondered and debated if I was a “real” journalist. As an integrated marketing communication major, I always felt a little out of place with an award-winning newspaper (I have a few of those awards myself, now).

I have one specific person that comes to mind. Joe Wells, both a personal and professional mentor, always reminded me that I did have a place in the newsroom. Any time I had self-doubt in my journalist identity, he always reminded me that I am writing, reporting and researching, of course I am a journalist.

I am excited to announce that after walking across that stage on May 4, I will be interning under the supervision of Joe at the Latrobe Bulletin. This feels full circle in ways that I cannot find words for. When I got the call that I would be interning with the Bulletin, that was all the confirmation I needed that I really am a journalist.

My dad told me, “You may not want a career in journalism, but it keeps finding its way back to you.” Boy, was he right.

Where it all began

Joining the staff as the Campus Life Editor as an anxious and insecure 18-year-old, I never imagined The Rocket would become what it has to me. I have my previous editor at the time to give credit to. Thank you, Hope, for believing in me and guiding me early on as a leader.

With that, a special thank you to Hannah and Aaron for becoming my first friends at Slippery Rock. You two were a guiding light as I started my college journey.

Thank you to all of the staff members I have worked with since 2021. You all have made me into the leader, student and human being that I am today.

I can’t talk about my start with The Rocket without mentioning my best friend, and the light of my college years. Nina, I am forever grateful for our friendship. You have not only been a friend, but a mentor. You have always pushed me and encouraged me to be the best version of myself, as a person and as a journalist.

Morgan and Brooke, you two are in my favorite memories from the start of college. I am so proud of you two, and I am so thankful for those early years at The Rocket together. Morgan, you may have been the best assistant to ever exist. I love and miss you both.

Those early years with The Rocket feel so long ago, and I honestly do not recognize the Campus Life Editor that began in 2021. I’d like to think she would be pretty damn proud of the Editor-in-Chief she became in 2024.

My first semester as Campus Life Editor did not come without its challenges. In the spring 2021 semester, SRU was still online, but certain organizations could operate at half capacity. The Rocket was still printing despite the world being shut down, and as the section editor I was going to do whatever I could to be a part of that.

I would travel about once or twice a month from Lower Burrell to Slippery Rock, stay in a hotel for a week and spend long, restless nights in ECB 220-B. I started staying in Grove City, where Nina came to explore the slightly shady hotel with me that first night.

During that first semester, I remember being hit with harsh story after harsh story. In February of 2021, The Rocket covered multiple different Zoom bombings occurring during Black History Month events. The first time, we got word of it not even an hour after submitting pages for a print week.

We had just spent over 40 hours in the office for that week, and we were about to stay all night to cover the story. This was a defining moment for me. I realized that our work doesn’t stop, and if you are passionate about what you’re doing, it will never feel like work.

The not-so-great times

Anyone who knows me knows that there was a painful period I had to take away from being a part of the staff. It was easily one of the most difficult decisions I had to make. I was unhappy, felt like I was being eaten alive by some of my peers and I had lost the passion I worked so hard to cultivate.

The temporary leave showed me how much I love The Rocket, and no matter what I’m feeling, I felt empty without my newsroom and favorite coworkers. Naturally, I couldn’t stay away so in this time away from staff, I still contributed and wrote stories.

Coming back home

It is not an understatement when I say that Eisenberg Classroom Building has become my second home. I may or may not spend more hours there than at my actual home. As a communication major, all my classes are there, and as a member of The Rocket, I spend every second of downtime in 220-B.

As I mentioned, during my hiatus I did still contribute to the news and opinion sections of The Rocket. There was nothing that could keep me away from my home. I rejoined staff as Campus Life Editor, it was crucial to me to get back to “my baby” as I always referred to the section.

After spending a semester rebuilding my section, I took a leap and became the Copy/Web Editor to give myself a change of pace. Getting to work alongside the one and only Sophia Bills was an absolute honor.

Sophia, you are the rock and foundation of this paper. Every single time I said this organization would not function without you, I meant it. I am so proud of you and getting to see you grow into the young adult you’ve become has been so beautiful.

I’m so thankful for our friendship. Getting to be silly goofy gals together on the podcast and overall, I have been able to learn so much because of you. You are going to do great things. Go kick ass as the next Editor-in-Chief.

Final goodbyes

Now, as my final semester ends, I say goodbye to all who have made these last four years what they have been. I may forget some people because truly there are way too many people that have impacted me than space will allow.

Katie Domaracki, you have grown so much since you first joined this staff. I am so proud of the young woman you have become, and it truly has been an honor to work with you. I cannot wait to see all you do.

Eddie, I do not even know where to begin. I remember when I first met you, I thought I was going to go crazy being around this crazy kid from Jersey. I would have never imagined you would become one of my best friends in college.

You have always amazed me with your talent, and seeing how quickly you can grow your skills has been so impressive. I can’t wait for you to work somewhere big one day, and I can say that I worked with that kid. Stay humble, kid. Love ya and I am thankful for the ways you’ve brought me back to Earth with your goofiness.

Cassie, you are going to go so far. I have said it a million times, but I am so proud and happy that The Rocket was a space where you found your passion and joy. Go take on University of Buffalo. We’re gonna be okay.

Spread your wings, take the leap. You belong in the city. I am so lucky to have seen your rapid growth over this semester. You are going to do amazing things wherever you go in life.

Kayla, you remind me so much of myself when I was your age. As a freshman joining staff, I know how overwhelming it can feel to be in a room full of people who seem to know it all.

You have proven yourself time and time again as an exceptional journalist. You are going to do big things here at SRU and at The Rocket. I am so proud of you, toot. I love you with my whole heart.

Annabelle, to the Student Life Editor who has braved it longer than I could, I am forever proud of you. You continue to persevere despite everything. I am so proud of you.

Good luck in Philadelphia this summer, and you are going to do great. Remember to take care of yourself as you go into your final semesters. I love you.

Aidan, I seriously feel like you are my child that I must keep safe from the world. Not that you cannot take care of yourself, obviously. But you are genuinely such a gem and fantastic human in a world that is so cold and cruel sometimes.

I say it all of the time, but you are a reminder that good men do exist. You’re an incredible person, but an equally fantastic sports reporter. You’re going to go so far in this career. When you’re reporting on those big sports teams, I’m going to brag a little bit that I got to work with you for a couple years.

You and Soph are going to kill it as an Editor-in-Chief pair. Both of you, remember that sometimes you must make hard decisions that may not feel great, but it is what’s best for the organization.

Everything we do is about the future of The Rocket, and if you use that to lead every decision you make, I know the two of you will do great things. I know The Rocket is going to be okay in your hands.

Alex, my guy. I do apologize that we have yet to take on G-Hill together. Maybe before we leave The Rock, we’ll get there? Either way, you are such a positive energy in every room that you walk into.

You are a dedicated and hard-working journalist. I am so proud of the growth I’ve seen since you’ve been with The Rocket. Thank you for always being someone we can count on. The sports section is going to be missing a huge piece without you.

Teiko, you are a shining light. I am so lucky to have gotten to know you and to have become friends over the last semester and a half. From drinking chardonnay at staff dinners, to being the one to start hard conversations, you are a powerhouse of a person.

Keep your eye on the prize. Take care of yourself. And I will always be here whenever you need a hug. I love you. I cannot wait to see all you do after graduation.

Hayden, seeing you come out of your shell over the last semesterhas been one of the best parts of getting to know you. You are hilarious, witty and I am still terrified of your constant perfect posture.

The way you think is incredible, and The Rocket has changed since you’ve been a part of it. The way you remain objective in so many different scenarios and often are a voice of reason is admirable.

Getting to see you develop as the journalist you’ve become has been such a wonderful and empowering experience. Continue covering the local community. Continue uncovering the truth. You’re going to be a fantastic leader for the news section.

Katie Shope, where do I even begin? You out of nowhere came into my life and I am thankful for it every single day. You motivate and inspire me. Your dedication, passion and drive is intoxicating for anyone who is around you.

You are a natural born leader, ready to take on any project and any challenge. You have been there for me through newspaper stress, anxiety about our futures and endless laughs.

Some of my favorite memories are us just being silly goofy gals, working on projects in my living room or having random discussions about life. You have been one of the best parts about college.

I can’t wait to see all you do, whether in Pittsburgh, Chicago, Denver or wherever you end up. You are seriously unstoppable. I love you. I love you. I love you.

James, I had to save your goodbye for last because this may be one of the hardest goodbyes. I know we are quite done, yet. I look forward to our coverage during the summer.

If you had told me in August that we would become as close of friends as we have, I would have probably laughed it off and denied the possibility of that ever happening.

Come December, I had found your antics with Matt hilarious, and I was curious to see how our dynamic would be when I stepped into the Editor-in-Chief role.

Not only have you been my right-hand man in every Rocket related decision I have made, but you have become one of my best friends. I would not have been able to run this paper without you by my side.

You have always pushed me to my limits, and even if in the moment I want to borderline strangle you, it always pays off. You motivate me. You hold me accountable. Both in and out of the newsroom.

Our friendship is one I never saw coming, and I don’t know if you will ever understand the impact you have had on me as a student, as a leader and as a person. Thank you for letting me into your life and all the laughs.

I hope to get an invite to your first documentary showing. Just know I’m gonna be in the front row with a middle finger ready for you. I love you, James. You’re gonna do such amazing things. You are one of the best parts of Slippery Rock.

Dr. Fleming, I don’t think it is ever going to be possible for me to find the words to describe the impact you have left on me. As both a professional and a human being, you have been instrumental in my growth.

I admire you for your strength, resilience and ability to always get it done. The other day we talked about how I see so much of me in you, and you and me. I hope to impact people the way you do one day. I love you. Thank you for never giving up on me.

With that, goodbye.

Slippery Rock University, The Rocket, Strategic Communication and Media department, it has been a wild four years. Many ups and downs, and it would’ve been impossible to be writing this today without everyone that I mentioned.

With that, there is probably 100 more people I should thank, but I already went over my self-imposed word count.

So, with that, thank you for some of the most amazing four years of my life. To future Rocket staff members, just know that I am always a phone call away. No matter when or where I am.

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Sarah is a senior Strategic Communication and Media major with concentrations in integrated marketing and healthcare communication. She has been a part of the Campus Life section of The Rocket since her freshman year, but now she is leaping into Copy/Web. In her free time, Sarah likes to crochet and watch "Gilmore Girls" with her cat, Church.


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