Graduating Copy/Web Editor Lesa Bressanelli (left) during her first budget meeting with The Rocket in August 2019.

As the 2019-2020 school year begins, The Rocket welcomes 10 new staff members after finalizing interviews Thursday, Sept. 5. With the goal of filling 10 open positions on staff, four returning members from the 2018-2019 staff will complete the full staff of 14.

Dr. Brittany Fleming will be entering her third year as The Rocket’s adviser and knew that this year was going to be a big transition.

“Every year is brand new,” Fleming said. “The Rocket always produces fantastic content so it’s getting the new staff into the routine of living up to the standards that The Rocket expects.”

This year, The Rocket had four full sections to fill after 10 members graduated in the spring of 2019. The news section, copy/web section, photo section and multimedia section each comprise of entirely new staff members eager to take on their new role.

Taking over as editor-in-chief is junior secondary education major and communication minor Hannah Shumsky. Shumsky will be entering her second year on staff and wants The Rocket to tell as many stories about people on campus who may not have a voice as possible.

Shumsky fills the roll unexpectedly following the loss of EIC-elect Adam Zook.

“We need to support one another,” Shumsky said. “I have everyone’s backs on the staff and I know everyone has my back. We will keep moving forward and keep doing what we’re doing.”

With Shumsky taking the position as the EIC, it left the positions of both news editor and assistant news editor open.

Joining the News section are senior converged journalism major Allison Downs, who will serve as the News Editor, and freshman converged journalism major Nina Cipriani, who will serve as the assistant news editor.

Downs is a transfer student from Lock Haven and hopes that taking on this roll will improve her portfolio while allowing her to get to know the staff members more.

“[Being on staff] makes me feel like I’m doing something right,” Downs said. “It makes me feel like I’m headed in the right direction. Before I started here, I had struggled with that, I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere. This is a huge step for me.”

Completing the copy/web section are senior English major Lesa Bressanelli, who will serve as the copy/web ditor, and junior English major Sam Shiel, who will begin her position as the assistant copy/web editor.

Bressanelli said that she looks forward to developing her editing skills in the form of writing that is found in media today.

“I feel like this shows how far I’ve come as a writer and developing my writing thus far,” Bressanelli said.

Comprising the photo section are senior integrated marketing and communications (IMC) major Keegan Beard and freshman public relations major, Hannah Slope will join the section as assistant photo editor.

Beard aspires to be a professional photographer upon graduation and wants to make sure that the position of photo editor for the upcoming staff next year is easily transitional.

“Having applied a few other times for The Rocket, it’s a good feeling to finally be able to work with the staff,” Beard said. “There are a lot of great people to know and work with, and it’s an awesome opportunity.”

Finalizing the new sections is junior converged journalism major Aaron Marrie, serving as multimedia editor, who has had prior work through WSRU-TV hopes to step up to the challenge of creating the first Blast Off With the Rocket video.

“Being on staff is really awesome,” Marrie said. “I would still be on The Rocket staff even if I wasn’t getting paid. It’s another family.”

Although there are four sections filled with entirely new staff members, new hires also include senior digital media production major Zack Bonnette, entering his first year on staff as the assistant sports editor. Joining the campus life section is junior converged journalism major Brendan Howe beginning his first year as the assistant campus life editor, and completing the advertising section is senior IMC major Emily Heyn beginning her first semester on staff as assistant advertising manager.

“I’ve been writing since I was a sophomore at Slippery Rock,” Bonnette said. “I really didn’t know if I was ever going to get on staff. It was an ultimate goal of mine. When I got the news that I was hired, it was validation of all the hard work I’ve put in to the paper.”

Completing the staff are three returning members from the 2018-2019 staff. Moving up in the section to sports editor is senior sport management major and communications minor Karl Ludwig. Stepping up to campus life editor is junior converged journalism Hope Hoehler. Finishing the returning staff members is senior psychology major and coaching minor Nicole Tolliver, who holds her position as the advertising manager.

“There is always going to be a transition,” Fleming, The Rocket’s adviser, said. “I had no doubt in my mind that the staff members stepping up this year were going to do an amazing job.”

Shumsky said that aside from WSRU-TV and the radio station, there are no other news station that specifically covers Slippery Rock and the university.

“I’m just a small part of an amazing group of people who are willing to go out there and tell the stories that people may not be able to hear on campus without us working as a forum for them,” Shumsky said.

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Hope is a senior converged journalism major entering her third year on The Rocket staff and her second year as campus life editor. Previously, she served as assistant campus life editor after contributing to the campus life section her freshman year. After graduation, she hopes to report for a paper either in local journalism or city news. Outside of The Rocket, Hope is also part of the JumpStart Mentor Program, the Student Organization of Latinos Hispanics and Allies (SOL) and Lambda Pi Eta.


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