Hannah Rudderham is The Aquinian's editor-in-chief for the 2021-22 academic year. (Aaron Sousa/AQ)

I remember sitting on my friend’s bed at seven years old – I was filling out an application to journalism school and she was filling out one for medical school.

Fourteen years later and I’m about to take over the role of editor-in-chief of The Aquinian.

In 2018, I walked into my first ever Aquinian meeting and picked a story, “No food allergy policy means trouble for some students.” My first byline at university, I was thrilled.

Fast forward to right now where I’m writing my last byline of my third year – my year as news editor. I never would’ve imagined what The Aquinian would do for me. As a first-year student who was told I didn’t have what it takes to be a journalist at age 16 at my first reporting job, my confidence was little to none.

The Aquinian helped me build my confidence, work on my writing skills and learn how to properly communicate with others.

I got to write stories I thought only big-name publications got to write. Despite our small budget, we pushed out breaking news piece after breaking news piece. I attended protests and lectures and somehow, the news section that I thought was going to fall to pieces because of COVID-19, was okay. We were all okay.

Journalism during a pandemic may seem like you’d have even more to report on but coming from a publication where we wanted to make sure students read news that wasn’t just depressing pandemic stories, it wasn’t an easy feat.

I may have cried more than enough times, but I made it.

In high school, I wanted so badly to be one of the incredible journalists you see out in the field with a microphone pushing her way into a media scrum. But I also struggled with a lot of medical challenges. I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and it made me worried about leaving my hometown for university. I was scared my body would fail me and where would I turn?

I found the people I could turn to at The Aquinian. I struggled with my physical health multiple times this year and each time I felt comfortable disclosing the issues with my team in case something on my end didn’t get done.

My co-workers at The Aquinian are now lifelong friends.

To Diana Chávez and Jasmine Gidney, this year’s editor-in-chief and managing editor, I appreciate you both more than I can say. Diana, even though I still haven’t disclosed my address to you, please know I appreciate the countless times you tried to send a pizza to my house because I was sitting in a puddle of my own tears.

Jasmine, thank you for being the go-to person when I forgot every rule I was taught about Canadian Press style.

To Hana Delaney, the incoming managing editor, I can’t wait to see what we do next year. Thank you for the countless hours we’ve spent on the phone divulging our deepest, darkest feelings and secrets. Together, I think we can take 2021-22 by the horns and go with it. There will be challenges, but I’m so ready to face those challenges with someone who became an amazing friend.

The team this year helped me through some hard moments in my life and those Starbucks runs and Burger King runs and Subway runs and – forget it, we ate too much fast food, okay? The point is, I always felt safe with you guys.

When we thought the Nova Scotia border was closing and we weren’t going to make it home for Christmas, Jasmine stuffed us all in her car and drove us to a hotel across the border where we ordered pizza and did flips across the beds at the hotel.

I can’t wait to see what I can bring to The Aquinian next year as editor-in-chief. I want to create a warm, supporting environment with my team, as well as with different diverse groups on campus. I want to continue bringing constant coverage of stories on Black, Indigenous and people of colour, the LGBTQ+ community, international stories and more. As a member of the disabled community, I want to shed more light on disabled issues on campus and in the wider community.

To our writers, you are the foundation of The Aquinian. Without our writers, we wouldn’t survive. I want it to be known that we are always open to meeting with writers, accepting pitches and being there to help every step of the way.

Nobody goes into journalism school knowing what they’re doing. All you need to start is the drive and the passion.

There are so many people to address but most importantly, I want to thank Grade 4 me. Thank you for not giving up and for pursuing what you want to do. No matter how many times someone pushed you down, you pushed harder. To next year’s staff and writers, listen to younger me – when life gets you down, always push back.

See you in September,

Hannah Rudderham

Editor-in-Chief 2021-22