Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
September 25, 2022
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Editors-in-Chief Molly Gahagen and Michelle Limpe recount their journeys to The News-Letter.

Molly Gahagen

I always envisioned the bulk of my freshman year being spent in a small, drafty dorm room, used as a landing pad between my classes and meeting up with friends. Instead, it was spent in my childhood bedroom, hopping on and off of endless Zoom calls. The high hopes I had for my college experience flew out of the window as the pandemic brought normal life as we knew it to a halt, leaving everyone to contemplate how to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances.

Determined not to write the year off as a lost cause, I made a conscious effort to integrate myself into the campus community. Attending the virtual Student Involvement Fair, with its myriad of booths, illustrated to me the vast opportunities I could take part in. As I browsed the numerous options available, The News-Letter stuck out to me, as I had always enjoyed writing and didn’t have the opportunity to work on a student publication at my small, rural high school.

After settling on writing for the News and Features section, I found myself jumping feet first into writing without any formal training. Although writing my first article required peppering my editor with questions, and subsequently making substantial revisions, I was excited to learn more about Hopkins and its place within Baltimore, even from a distance.

As I finally got to arrive on campus for my sophomore year, I was excited to finally begin to have a “normal” college experience. Adjusting to in-person learning and living away from home was difficult at first, but I found that the comforting routine of going to the Gatehouse on Monday evenings for editors’ meetings, answering irreverent questions of the week and huddling around the space heaters in the cozy front room as the weather got colder became a consistent highlight of my week.

My experiences as a News and Features editor provided me an outlet to explore topics I found important, as well as provided me with a great support system of fellow editors to learn from. Over the course of a year, as I read the incredible variety of articles the paper published, I came to realize how important student journalism is and the potential impact of our work.

Being a part of the paper has shaped my interests and aspirations, taught me invaluable skills and provided me a community I would not trade for anything. If you have any interest at all in writing, media, communications or design, I encourage you to indulge yourself and give The News-Letter a try — you never know where it may lead.

Michelle Limpe

When I was applying to colleges, I was only certain of two things: I wanted to major in biochemistry and minor in journalism. Funny how even three years later, neither of these goals became reality. Instead, I am now majoring in Public Health at one of the few universities without a journalism program. 

While I felt excited by the renowned science opportunities at Hopkins, I lamented having to let go of my passion for journalism during my freshman year. 

Fortunately, I found The News-Letter. 

Even before arriving on campus, I knew that I wanted to be involved with the paper in some capacity, having had a bit of journalism experience in high school. I remember seeking it out during our annual Student Involvement Fair without any idea of how the paper operated but eager to report and write. I remember meeting the editors back then for the first time, feeling both intimidated by their confidence but welcomed by the community they formed. At that time, I never expected The News-Letter to become one of the major constants throughout my college career. 

As my freshman spring was made uncertain by COVID-19, I continued to attend weekly meetings with my editors and report on the school’s changing guidelines. While our lives shifted fully online and I completed my sophomore year with a 12-hour time difference, fulfilling my role as a News and Features editor kept me connected to campus and Baltimore. Even when I was nervous about returning to campus in the fall of my junior year, my excitement to return to the community within the paper as a managing editor overcame any unease I was feeling.

And now, as I grapple with the unknowns of life beyond college, the paper remains a constant for my senior year. 

Writing for The News-Letter has spurred me on to grow and step out of my comfort zone in ways that I never expected. From covering various protests and events to writing my own columns to investigating the history of the Hopkins Hospital, I found my purpose and impact in documenting our institution’s history.

Yet, beyond writing and publishing pieces, the people themselves are what make The News-Letter a community. Being surrounded by people who share the same passion for journalism and commitment to uplifting the voices of our student body continues to inspire me everyday. Like any skill, improving on my journalistic craft was not an overnight process — in fact, I still learn something new all the time. But the genuine support and encouragement from everyone here has helped me develop into the journalist I am today. 

At The News-Letter, you hold the unique position of challenging not just yourself but those around you through the questions you ask and narratives you write. I invite you to take this opportunity to make your mark and contribute to the 126 years of work set by former journalists of our publication. So whether you are a novice journalist, aspiring cartoonist or only have the slightest curiosity in writing, The News-Letter welcomes you to find your own beat within the Gatehouse, Hopkins and Baltimore City. 

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