Letter from the editor: Thank you for a wonderful year

By Hannah Sievert | May 3, 2019 4:17pm

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Hannah Sievert was the editor in chief of The Beacon for the 2018-19 school year. Photo by Keaton Averman.

When I first came to college four years ago, I immediately applied to work for The Beacon. I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a career yet, but I knew I wanted a job while at UP where I could improve my writing and make friends.

I only realized that The Beacon was meant to be my home on campus when Brian Doyle, the former editor of UP’s Portland Magazine and award-winning author, came into the newsroom and spoke to us about the power of stories. Brian had a way of speaking about writing that made my heart sit up straight and listen. 

He told us that we were storytellers, and we had to do justice to the stories that existed on campus. And to tell good stories we had to listen. We had to listen to find the stories unheard and unseen by others. “Listening is the greatest literary art,” Brian once wrote

During these past four years, I’ve had the privilege of listening to so many amazing stories. Just this year, I was able to write about a UP student who received a grant providing 625 brand-new coats to the students at Cesar Chavez School in North Portland. I was able to listen to the powerful experiences of LGBTQ students who spoke about what it was like to come out to their parents and friends for the first time. And I listened and talked to many others, including students who invested their money into Bitcoin, students who identify as non-binary and students who planned to become priests and nuns after graduating.

Reporting each story taught me something new and pushed me to understand a new perspective. Each story entrusted to me to tell was an incredible privilege. More than once I teared up in an interview, moved by a student’s passion or pain. I’ve learned that the articles we write at The Beacon have the power to connect people across divides of differences. They remind us that people are often experiencing more than what initially meets the eye. Journalist or not, we all should know that there are so many stories out there worth hearing if we take the time to listen. 

The work of The Beacon goes far beyond just me and my own experiences. The Beacon’s staff and editorial board contributed countless hours going to meetings, writing and reporting for the over 300 articles published this year. 

We covered the protest against Red Mass speaker Fr. Paul Scalia, the announcement of the winner of the Opus Prize and new diversity efforts on campus. We helped share the stories of students who have experienced eating disorders and the stories of students navigating life on campus while living with dwarfism. We covered changes in the Athletics Department after last year’s Wally Awards and an event where members of the UP community discussed institutional betrayal and courage. These are only a few of the many topics our coverage spanned. Thank you to the staff who worked tirelessly to make telling these stories possible.

And this hard work of Beacon staff members paid off. The Beacon won several awards this year, including Gold Circle Awards in news writing, feature writing, breaking news and more. Staff members won regional Society of Professional Journalist Mark of Excellence Awards, for breaking news, feature reporting, feature writing, breaking news photography, among others. 

Thank you to our advisor, Nancy Copic, who worked behind-the-scenes and diligently taught us about the complicated nuances of journalism. Nancy encouraged us to always ask questions and ethically consider each article. At The Beacon, we spent hours to make sure facts were accurate and that each story was considered from an ethical perspective. We don’t have a big, fancy journalism school at UP, but we do have a group of people working for The Beacon who are passionate and dedicated to work that isn’t always easy and straightforward.

One of the main purposes of The Beacon is to be a voice for the student body. Thank you to those who contributed their voice through interviews with reporters and to those who contributed their voice though submissions to our opinion section. Thank you to all who added to thoughtful dialogue in our comments sections on social media. This year, we as a community engaged in discussion, which was not always easy, but was important as we considered a diversity of perspectives. Lastly, thank you to all of our readers for keeping up with The Beacon this year – all of this work wouldn’t be possible without you.

I look forward to following along with The Beacon as a reader myself after graduating. Claire Desmarais will do an incredible job leading the charge as next year’s editor-in-chief. I know from working with her that she is hardworking and responsible, and will be a strong leader.

This Sunday, I and the rest of my 2019 classmates will walk across the stage at graduation toward a new adventure. I’m constantly in awe of the accomplishments of my fellow classmates – who are future engineers, nurses, teachers, business professionals, doctors, world-travelers and much more. Anyone who knows UP knows that the students here are passionate, smart and dedicated. I will miss these people dearly, but I also can’t wait to see how our own stories continue to unfold.

Cheers,

Hannah Sievert

2018-19 Beacon Editor-in-Chief

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