By John Schilling
It’s crazy to think that an impulse email I wrote and sent in between classes in 2019 would ultimately lead to this moment and the long journey that brought me here.
After almost three years, my time at The Vanguard has finally come to an end, and while I won’t miss the late nights editing and my hectic work-life balance (which is probably only going to get worse), I can truly say that it was The Vanguard and the people I met along the way that made my time at Brooklyn College worthwhile and have helped me become a better person than who I was when I came to Brooklyn College in fall 2018.
I never thought in a million years I could or would graduate summa cum laude, be selected as a candidate for valedictorian, or most important of all: lead a newspaper with a great group of people and build friendships that will last a lifetime.
I could write an endless, 1000-word article, as Ryan Schwach always dreaded, about everything I learned, the stories I covered, and the experience I gained along the way, but I would instead like to dedicate this farewell to all those who have supported me or left an impression on me during my time here.
To Journalism and Media Studies Professors MJ Robinson, Katherine Fry, Lenn Robbins, Mark McSherry, Brian Dunphy, Maisie McAdoo, Annie Byrnes, Helen Pfeffer, Don Hecker, Irina Patkanian, and Charles Carr. There may have been a few instances in which I nodded off during your classes or scrolled through my phone as you lectured, but please know you have all helped me develop the portfolio of work I have today, and for that, I am truly grateful.
To English Professors Adam Bangser and Hannah Treasure. You noticed my writing potential right away in freshman year and gave me the confidence and validation I needed at that time to keep working hard.
To Math Professor Shaheed Rasul. I don’t know how you did it, but you made this avid writer enjoy his Math Gen-Ed requirement. Not to mention, you were the only professor to ever give me a hug after I handed in my final exam and say to me, “You are a good guy.” I ran from campus to go see “Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker” immediately after and could not stop thinking about that moment throughout the movie. You are truly bigger than a galaxy far far away.
To History Professors Jocelyn Wills and KC Johnson. Taking your classes kept me grounded in my academics and nursed my passion for American history while I earned my degree.
To The Vanguard’s original, founding core four: Quiara Vazquez, Ryan Schwach, Moises Taveras, and Camila DeJesus. You welcomed me to The Vanguard in 2019 with open arms, and I was honored to work with you all and carry on the paper’s legacy after you graduated. Your faith in me was something I had never experienced from anyone other than my family, and I am truly the reporter I am today because of your mentorship. Thank you for trusting me with your paper.
To all of The Vanguard’s section editors, writers, and supportive staff I had the privilege to work with, especially Jack Coleman, Maya Schubert, Conrad Hoyt, Allison Rapp, Ian Ezinga, Serin Sarsour, Owen Russell, Anakin Jackson, Emmad Kashmiri, Fawaad Farooq, Kaylin Guzman, Dylan Kaufman, and Mo Muhsin. You are the reason for The Vanguard’s continued success and working with you was a pleasure.
To Matt Hirsch, my Capstone partner and fellow Mets fan. I cannot think of a better friend to graduate alongside with, and I look forward to your success. I am grateful that somehow the stars aligned for us to not only meet at BC but to leave The Vanguard together.
To Michela Arlia, who will succeed me as Managing Editor after previously succeeding me as Arts Editor. I am proud to have worked with you, and I cannot think of anyone more capable or deserving to help lead the paper. You got this, and I know you will do great things.
To Gabriela Flores, my partner in crime. I am truly grateful to have worked with you, and I am proud of what we accomplished together at The Vanguard. I have the utmost confidence that this success will continue on because of you. Thank you for your willingness to share the paper’s responsibilities with me. I could not have asked for a better partner…even though you relentlessly ripped apart every article I wrote. If it had to be anyone, I am glad it was you.
To all of my friends who will remain at The Vanguard and the students who will join them in the future, please take care of the paper. Keep writing and keep campus journalism alive.
And finally, to my grandma Sue Ellen Sullivan, who passed away on Jan. 6, 2021. It seems cliche to say that my grandma was my biggest fan, but she WAS actually my biggest fan and kept a folder of all my articles, all of which were written specifically for The Vanguard and from the issues I printed for her during our COVID-induced printing hiatus.
In some ways, writing for The Vanguard has allowed me to keep her memory alive and honor her, and now that my time at The Vanguard has come to an end, it is almost like having to let go of a part of her.
But I find comfort in knowing she is watching over me as I graduate and head to the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY in the fall, where I will continue to learn, report, and write not just in her honor but all of those who have helped me reach this moment, and to keep alive a trade that many have called a “dying field.”
My grandma, of course, disagreed and gifted me a t-shirt in my Christmas stocking one year that read “Journalism matters now more than ever.” I couldn’t agree more.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you all. For better or worse: You have not seen the last of me.