A letter from the outgoing editor-in-chief 2020-21

Diana Chávez was The Aquinian's editor-in-chief of the 2020-21 academic year. (Aaron Sousa/AQ)

There is no proper way to say goodbye to the publication that has shaped me into the person I am today.

I always dreaded writing this letter, but I never worried too much because it seemed so far away. But time doesn’t stop for anyone.

I was terrified when I became editor-in-chief. I was scared of not being good enough at confrontation in a job that required me to manage eight editors and felt insecure about English not being my mothertongue.

Fast-forward to a bunch of cries, 12 breaking news stories and staying up until 4 a.m. editing – I made it. I am unapologetically proud of who I have become and wouldn’t change a thing of what happened this year.

This was The Aquinian’s first year fully digital because of the pandemic. Coming from the last Aquinian generation who worked at print, it was hard at first building the paper’s operations and digital presence from scratch.

But it turned out for the best – digital gave us the freedom to experiment. We covered a snap election, protests, a lockdown and the death of St. Thomas University student Aranyam Bora. We won two national awards.

Jasmine Gidney, the managing editor, and I wanted to take diverse coverage in The Aquinian to the next level.

Diversity, especially in a media organization, needs to be present in management. We were lucky because The Aquinian had diverse management for the first time in over three years,  with an international student from Ecuador as editor-in-chief and an Asian student as managing editor.

Diversity is about covering celebrations as much as issues within minority groups. It’s about not letting unconscious bias play into the narrative and telling the story as it is. It’s about asking “how do I pronounce your name?” rather than saying “sorry, I don’t want to butcher your name” without even trying.

Though we reached many milestones this year, we also made mistakes as anyone would. We stress-cried and laughed out of exhaustion from working 13-hour long shifts.

Still, watching our team of editors grow has been one of the most rewarding experiences ever.

Shannon Nickerson, the multimedia editor, has an incomparable sense of humour and one of the most distinct writing voices I have ever encountered. Shannon, please never stop writing satire or making humour videos.

Young Joo Jun, the video editor, blew me away with her creativity and talent. Young Joo, please don’t forget to get me front-row tickets to the Oscars when a film of yours is nominated, eh chica?

Aaron Sousa wore many hats: photo editor, breaking news addict, adrenaline-induced hamster on layout day and live tweeting machine. A-aron, thanks for bringing AQ Tweets back to life. Vogue, hire him already!

Hana Delaney came, saw and conquered social media as social media and web editor. Now, writers and editors have a portfolio on the website forever thanks to her. Hana, I’m excited to see how you will revamp The Aquinian’s business side of things as managing editor next year.

Billy Cole, our beloved two-year sports editor, carried the sports section on his shoulders during a year where sports were an afterthought and kept it fresh. Billy, you are a hardworking person and a gifted writer. You have a heart of gold and your friendship is one of the greatest things The Aquinian has given me.

Matt Daigle, the arts and culture editor, will learn how to use a GoPro in a day, tape it on his helmet and go film himself skiing – that’s how passionate he is. Matt, I will never forget our trip to Quispamsis to cover Blaine Higg’s provincial election win and us singing “Love Story” in your car on the way back.

Laura MacDonald, the features editor, is the walking definition of persistence. She will call everyone in town to get answers for a story. Laura, I can’t wait to see your byline in all sorts of human rights stories around the world – you will go places. I’m glad this year brought us closer. Never forget to shine bright.

Hannah Rudderham, the news editor, will write three stories at a time and go undercover for an investigative piece to keep her news baby alive. From one news editor to another, I am proud of you. Your triple Taurus energy will come in handy as the next editor-in-chief. Remember: I’ll always be here for you.

Jasmine Gidney is my FaceTime crying partner, my favourite peanut muffin baker and the Hufflepuff to my Slytherin. When I saw her for the first time four years ago, sitting by herself at the back of the story meeting room while staring down at her hands, I never imagined how important she would become in my life. Jasmine, I wouldn’t have made it past the first week if it wasn’t for you. I wouldn’t have wanted to go through all the chaos with anyone else. Te quiero mucho, amiga mía. 

I also want to thank our columnists Wil Robertson and Ajay Atkinson. Your work was always appreciated.

Hannah and Hana – this is yours now. Let that sink in, cherish it, and savour every minute of it, because one moment you are a first-year heading into your first story meeting, and the next one, you are writing your farewell later to the publication that became your haven for four years.

Thanks for everything, The Aquinian. Until we see each other again.

Diana Chávez

Editor-in-Chief 2020-21