Rocket alumni share experiences and memories

Published by adviser, Author: Daniel DiFabio - News Editor , Date: October 12, 2017
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With The Rocket being distributed around campus since 1934, many SRU students have filled the role of Editor-in-Chief.

Jason Hunsicker served this role from the 2003-2004 academic year, serving as the paper’s Sports Editor beforehand.

Hunsicker first thought about joining the paper when taking a College Writing class at SRU, with the professor convincing him to join.

“I had always enjoyed reading newspapers but I had never considered it as a possible career up until that point,” Hunsicker said.

Hunsicker said the experience with working for the paper was great, especially working with other students.

“The biggest thing I remember is the overall sense of camaraderie with the staff,” Hunsicker said. “Working hard with your colleagues, really your friends, and chasing down stories, that’s what you lived for. This sounds bad, but classes or anything else really seemed like a distant second to working at The Rocket. I really just wanted to be in the office all the time. It was always rewarding to get the paper done and spend time with your friends at the same time.”

During Hunsicker’s time at The Rocket, he recalled a time when the staff had a lead on a story about a quarterback transferring to another school, but somehow when the paper was released the previous week’s front page was printed instead of the breaking sports one. Thanks to the paper’s advisor, communication professor Mark Zeltner, the staff was able to reprint the paper correctly.

“At the time it was incredibly frustrating, but we did everything we could to make sure that the right news was getting out there,” Hunsicker said.

The skills from The Rocket and earning a bachelor’s of science in communication with a journalism concentration transitioned well after college, with Hunsicker getting a newspaper job right out of college.

“Everything I did at the Rocket set me up for my entire career,” Hunsicker said.

Hunsicker now currently serves as the Managing Editor at the Kirksville Daily Express in Kirksville, Mo.

“Looking back on college I think I’d say it [writing for The Rocket)]was the most important thing I was involved with and the skills I was able to learn there set me up and I’ve been in the industry ever since,” Hunsicker said.

Catie Clark-Gordon served as the paper’s Editor-in-Chief from the 2013-14 academic year, holding the position of Assistant News Editor prior.

Clark-Gordon said that the transition was different, with the assistant position involving going to the police station and magistrate, whereas as EIC she had to editing and read all the stories.

“It was definitely a different transition but I think I liked it more in being in charge and helping to make the gears grind,” Clark-Gordon said.

Initially, it was Communication professor Joseph Harry’s News Writing class that got Clark-Gordon interested in journalism.

“I felt like I could do this, I had a knack for it,” Clark-Gordon said. “I felt I was picking it up a lot. I also liked the time pressure, it was a fun challenge for me.”

Clark-Gordon moved to South Carolina and attended Clemson University and now is  a graduate assistant at West Virginia University and pursuing a PhD in Communication Studies

“I highly recommend getting involved with The Rocket and it was a great way to build friendships and get closer with faculty,” Clark-Gordon said.

Kevin Squires served as the paper’s Editor-in-Chief from 2014-15 and was interested in writing for The Rocket after serving in the same position at his high school newspaper. Squires recalled writing a piece for The Rocket on SRUBanksy, who created chalk drawings around campus.

“That was probably my top favorite piece that I wrote,” Squires said.

Squires also was EIC when the paper started its now annual Valentine’s Day/Sex & Love issue.

“That was a really fun thing to put together,” Squires said. “The cover won a Pinnacle Award and it was a really great group effort from everyone on the staff and it turned into a nice issue that I was pretty proud of.”

Squires now works as a laboratory specialist at the University of Pittsburgh’s infectious disease lab and is pursuing a master’s in education at Point Park University.

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