Jasmine Gidney was The Aquinian's managing editor for the 2020-21 academic year. (Submitted: Morris Photography)

This year was a trial by fire.

Being a full-time online student and helping Diana Chávez, The Aquinian’s editor-in-chief, run the paper during a global pandemic almost killed me.

There was a wave that knocked me down every time I tried to stand up, and I thought the stress and my anxiety would drown me, but it didn’t. There were nights where I broke down in tears and called Diana for support, which she always gave me.

Between building The Aquinian from the ground up with a new online model, covering 12 breaking news stories, managing a team of eight other editors and dealing with other surprises that came up throughout the year, I barely had time to breathe.

But we made it through the chaos together. We rose above the worst the year could throw at us and came out stronger on the other end.

I am proud of what we created this year. For the first time in a while, The Aquinian had diverse leadership. A powerful female international student from Ecuador was EIC, while a self-proclaimed badass Asian woman was the managing editor.

Increasing diversity was one of the goals we set when we became leaders of The Aquinian. But diversity means more than reporting on problems the Black, Indigenous and other marginalized groups face. True diversity means writing about the celebrations, achievements and including those voices in non-BIPOC-centric stories.

We covered stories like the Mi’kmaq fishing rights and Black Lives Matter Fredericton, but we also featured stories like the creation of Project Air and the N.B. Black Artist Alliance. The Aquinian also increased coverage of international students. We continued the Home column – which I created last year to allow students to share their culture with a larger audience – along with other stories, like how students created businesses during the pandemic and found alternate ways to pay for their tuition.

Though, most of all, I am proud of our team. Diana and I are like the lesbian moms of eight children.

Billy Cole is the man who single-handedly kept the sports section alive during a year without sports. You, Billy boy, are one of the best people I know. Not only are you creative and resilient, but you are also kind. You take what comes at you with stride. Keep your head up and good luck to ya. I know you’re going to do great things. Also, I will win custody of you if Diana and I divorce. Don’t forget who feeds you occasional cakes and muffins!

Young Joo Jun is the video queen and fashion icon. I’m sad that we didn’t spend as much time together this year, but I loved the time we did hang out at The Cellar. I can’t wait to see your Oscar-worthy documentary one day.

Matt Daigle brought film back to The Aquinian. It’s been a blast geeking out with you about film news. Your connection to social media paired with your creativity made for solid story pitches. I know you’re going to have a bright future.

Laura MacDonald is a badass. From one features editor to another, you did the section proud. I can’t think of anyone else more perfect for the role. Your sense of humour and wit created some of the most interesting stories. You helped bring some of the most important stories to the forefront of the paper. I know that wherever you go, your employer will be lucky to have you.

Aaron Sousa is our resident hamster. While you run on your little hamster wheel every Sunday, never forget that Diana and I appreciate you. You’re always willing to run down to take photos for a story, even during a lockdown where we shout at you to stay safe. Your journalism journey’s only begun, and I can’t wait to see what you bring next year.

Shannon Nickerson, your humour is unmatched. You had me rolling on the floor with the “Top Locations to Cry on Campus” video and Caillou satire. Also, thank you for helping me drive back home last Christmas. I definitely would have fallen asleep and crashed without you!

Hana Delaney carried the website on her back. You had some of the hardest and most under-appreciated work of the team. I know this year has been hard, but you’ve made it. You’re here and I know you’re going to excel at the role of managing editor next year. If you ever need anything, I’m always one call away.

Hannah Rudderham is one of the hardest working people I know. Thank you for helping with the breaking news stories and always being there when we need you. You have a good heart, which will help lead the team next year. I know you’ll do fantastic. Have faith in yourself and you’ll do well.

Last, thank you Diana for being my partner in crime. I wouldn’t have survived the year without you. We laughed. We cried. We ate McDonald’s and talked about boys. We’re soulmates. I can’t wait to see what you do next, because I know you will be brilliant. I love you and I will miss spending every waking hour talking with you.

After four years of working at The Aquinian, I am closing this chapter of my life and heading onto a new adventure.

So for the last time, this is Jasmine Gidney, signing off.