Letter from the Editor: Signing off

Kassidy Tsikitas | Photo Editor

By Jenna Fitzgerald | Editor-in-Chief

A lot has changed since the first time I walked into the newsroom in August 2021.

We were still in the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic then. Everyone had to come to staff orientation and weekly meetings all masked up. It seemed as though there was constantly a new variant that was making headlines. I had to take a screenshot of Baylor’s COVID-19 dashboard every night to put in The Morning Buzz, right next to the number of cases.

Yep — that’s how long I’ve been here. And when I look back on my college career, I hardly remember a version of “Baylor” that does not include “The Lariat.”

Despite meeting a few of my very best friends freshman year, I definitely felt isolated because of the pandemic. It’s not easy to build community when you have class over Zoom, take food to-go from the dining hall and can’t experience the rush of running the Line or attending a football game. In all honesty, I barely remember freshman year at all.

Luckily for me, I stumbled into the newsroom sophomore year — not knowing it would give me the community I had been longing for, not knowing I would stay there for three years, not knowing it would help me find my calling along the way.

Since then, I’ve covered a wide swathe of stories, from the Baylor versus Texas football game to an educational opportunity for those with developmental disabilities. I’ve opened up about my struggle with chronic migraine, my experience grieving in college and my perspective as the daughter of a COVID-19 doctor. I’ve featured people with a variety of backgrounds, including an Irish nun with an eye for religious inclusivity and a Baylor professor with an affinity for Bigfoot. I’ve spent countless hours in the newsroom, late nights sending pages to the printer and early mornings delivering papers to the newsstands. I’ve read, edited and passed over 2,600 stories on Camayak (and I sincerely wish I could see the resulting screen time).

Perhaps most notably, I had the chance to cover the federal Title IX and negligence trial of a former Baylor student against the university, former head football coach and former athletic director. For a couple weeks in October 2023, Waco’s U.S. District Court became my second home, and in the course of that experience, I discerned a passion for law that led me to change the direction of my life halfway through senior year. I submitted applications to law schools two months later and could not be more excited to continue my education at Washington University in St. Louis this fall.

Of course, none of this would have been possible had it not been for the army of people pouring into me from day one. Thank you to Ava for encouraging me to dream big and reach for this position. Thank you to Rachel for being my rock through it all, in countless conversations over hot fudge sundaes or via lengthy voice memos. And thank you to every member of this staff who has so graciously let me lead them this year. I could not be more proud of your work.

Serving as the editor-in-chief of The Lariat has been the greatest privilege of my college career. I never could have imagined how bittersweet it would be to unpin my prints from the board, design my last staff meeting presentation and pass my final story on Camayak. But here I am, shedding a tear or two while writing this letter.

Remember the scene in “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” when Dobby tries to get Harry to stay away from school, and Harry tells Dobby, “I can’t — Hogwarts is my home”?

Well, the newsroom is mine.

Signing off,

Jenna Fitzgerald | Editor-in-Chief