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Kentucky Kernel

The Student News Site of University of Kentucky

Kentucky Kernel

The Student News Site of University of Kentucky

Kentucky Kernel

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From a dream to reality and now a farewell: Letter from the editor-in-chief

Editor-in-Chief Hannah Stanley poses for a portrait in front of the Kentucky Kernel office on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2023, in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Abbey Cutrer | Staff

Out of all the stories I’ve ever written for the Kernel, this has been the most challenging.

It’s not hard to thank everyone who’s helped me along the way and given me more memories than I’ll ever be able to remember, but saying goodbye to a place that was home for four years is nearly impossible.

Little Hannah — who was Zooming in for a staff reporter position her freshman year — would have never predicted she would be running the show a mere three years later.

Well, grown-up Hannah can’t believe it either.

From the endless late nights in the office, and I mean LATE nights, to countless round trips and conferences, there isn’t a single moment I won’t be thankful for. Sure, I could have done without the amount of years and sleep taken off from my life, but all of these brought me just another wrinkle to remind me of the love I have for the chaos of journalism.

The blood, sweat and tears — I can confidently say all happened repeatedly over the past four years — were worth it.

If you ask me that right now, though, I will deny that claim. Don’t be fooled, however, I do love the Kernel with my whole heart and am eternally grateful for fulfilling my fifth grade dreams of becoming a writer.

It does seem that I knew myself a bit better back then than I thought, but gosh I sure hope I exceeded my young self’s expectations, you know, by being a multinational award winning journalist and all — oh, and I can’t forget the growing success our newsroom has had in the last year.

Let’s see some of those statistics, shall we?

As of April 2024, the Kernel has over 42,000 followers across four social media platforms, over 110 local and national awards, including a Multiplatform Pacemaker, multiple individual Pacemaker recipients, as well as multiple Pacemaker and Pinnacle finalists and a newsroom of over 100 talented student journalists.

Today, I can look in the mirror and tell the same dweeby, 11-year-old bookworm that we made it, and anything really is possible.

We went through damn near hell and back, and we still came out smiling and stronger than ever. There is no telling how successful this newsroom will be, but with all the might, I know we are only just beginning to showcase our endless talent.

From switching to a special sections media outlet to implementing an entire digital team, we are leading the convergence of online and print storytelling for all those who follow in our footsteps.

There is not an ounce of my body that I believe I could have done all of this alone, and with that said, I believe I owe a few thank yous.

First, to my family, especially my parents and younger sister Grace. I know I haven’t always made things easy, let alone given you all my full attention in the way I have with this newsroom, but you’ve supported me through the journey of college journalism. To Grace alone, thank you for always having my back, being the best little sister I could have ever asked for and learning why the Kernel has been so important to me.

Now, to my second dad, best friend, advisor and biggest supporter both inside and outside the newsroom, Ryan Craig. I owe you more thank yous than I will ever be able to repay. You are truly the reason I was able to get through every day the last four years. You have believed in me at times when I couldn’t myself, treated me like your very own daughter and the driving force behind every success story I have. And to that, I will forever look up to you and hope one day I can do the very same for someone else.

Although this next one isn’t a direct Kernel member, I’d like to believe him to be an honorary Kernelite — Andrew Harvey. For those of you who don’t know, Andrew has been my rock-of-all-rocks the last year and a half. Yes, he is my boyfriend, but by all means, no label will give him the credit he deserves. It feels like just yesterday he was letting me sleepover after 2 a.m. Wednesday production nights when he had to be up at 7 a.m. the next morning — gosh, how the time has gone by. Now, even though we’ve shifted from the late nights (or as best as possible), you’ve put up with the second love of my life that is journalism. You’ve exuded patience that I didn’t even know existed, supported me through the toughest of times and provided me with so much love and care that I could live a lifetime off of. While the future remains untold for my journalism career, I know ours is set for a lifetime of love and endless laughs by each other’s sides.

Speaking of laughs, who could forget my best friend Ella Zombolo. Oh, where do I even begin? If you said freshman year, the two of us would be best friends, I would have laughed so hard in your face. Safe to say, I’ve gotten to share my laughs with you for the last four years, and fortunately, a few miles down the road back home. Not sure how we got so lucky, but I hope you know that after all our crazy college stories, our much needed glow up and inseparable friendship, you’ve carried me through the stress of school and newspaper somehow, someway, and I love you so much for it.

The once former editor-in-chief but current UK Spokesperson Jay Blanton — an ironic thank you to some, but undoubtedly needed — I must express my gratitude to you and all your help to not just me but the Kernel as well. Our endless banter about all things UK has taught me to understand things far beyond just journalism and how much of a prominent role you play at the university. While my time as editor-in-chief may be coming to an end, I’d like to think our work friendship is still just beginning.

Lastly, a few extra thank you’s to some very special members —Bryce McNeil, for coming in guns blazing to a new newsroom and sharing your time with our Kernel family just as much as your own, and David Stephenson, for providing me with the opportunity to learn about all things photo and even get my hands on a camera at Picture Kentucky.

The one and only Rayleigh Deaton, for being an amazing former editor-in-chief to follow, Gray Greenwell, who gave his whole being to this newsroom and became one of my closest friends, Abbey Cutrer, who will be leading the newsroom next, best of luck my dear, it’s no easy task, but it’s an incredibly rewarding one. Cole Parke, for quite literally building a sports entity in our newsroom and never ceasing to amaze me, and Giana Gallo, who I’ve gotten to know in such short time but has shown more success and dedication than any new member I know and has yet to even touch the tip of her potential.

Now in just some time, I’ll be walking across the stage in a blue gown and Kernel stole that thanks to everyone in my four years at the Kernel, I will be wearing ever so proudly in the success that we’ve shared.

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