A new Kernel for a new normal


2021 – 2022 editor-in-chief Rayleigh Deaton.

Rayleigh Deaton

This time last year, we were presented with a new reality. The world shut down, and life as we knew it came to a screeching halt. We had to cobble together the pieces of normality that remained, constructing a normal similar – but not quite identical – to the old one.

It became a time of simple pleasures. While living at home during quarantine, I remember being disproportionally excited about donning my mask and going to the grocery store to get ingredients for dinner or driving through a coffee shop for a latté – leaving the house and entering civilization at all was cause for celebration. (I also perfected my chocolate chip banana bread recipe, but that’s beside the point.)

It was also a time of incredible hardship. Many lost loved ones to a virus scientists at the time could only hope to understand. High school and college students missed out on milestones like prom and graduation. We were unsure exactly what it was we were fighting, but we knew that life did not look the same, and it might never again.

This time last year, I was working as the online content editor for KRNL, the usual in-person gatherings in McVey replaced by online meetings filled with connection issues, sharing screens and the inevitable “Oh, your mic’s not on!” We, like my new family here at the Kernel, had to learn to move our work online, but we did it. The Kernel and KRNL owe their 2020-21 Editors-in-Chief Natalie Parks and Rachael Courtney a debt of gratitude. These incredible leaders kept operating and producing award-winning content despite COVID-19, no small feat.

As the signs of spring bring hope that warmer weather and a break from classes are just around the corner, I hope our hard work and vigilance throughout this pandemic will pay off. I hope elbow bumps will turn back into hugs and families and friends can reunite. I hope the world will continue returning to normal.

I look back at how far we have come and am awestruck. We have gone a full year since that spring break turned into a half semester at home. It has been a year of confusion, hardship and missed opportunities, yes, but I also see it as a year of learning. We have learned how much we need each other and how much we need to hold onto hope that everything will turn out all right in the end, acknowledging that our actions today will impact our tomorrow.

It is my privilege to take the helm of the Kentucky Kernel, the next in a long dynasty of editors who helped make this paper great. I am humbled to be part of something so much bigger than myself, and I resolve to do my part to help us make sense of these times. I will also strive to bring the Kernel back from a place of survival to a sense of thriving and growing as we look forward to life resembling how it was before.

What we do now will be remembered. The stories we tell, the actions we take, will be written down in the history books. It is my honor to be your editor-in-chief as together we turn the page to a new chapter for the Commonwealth and for the Kentucky Kernel.