Screaming goodbye to the Kentucky Kernel


Carter Skaggs

Kentucky Kernel News Editor and senior Kendall Staton poses for a portrait on Tuesday, April 11, 2023, at Gatton Student Center in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Carter Skaggs | Staff

Kendall Staton, News Editor

I first realized my words were not always welcomed in August of my eighth grade year. 

The boy who sat next to me in my first class of the day asked me to speak only so he could use my words against me. 

My feet became frozen on the floor as I realized my words would not always be wanted, even if they were asked for. 

To make things easier on myself, I decided if I did not speak, I could not be criticized.

That day changed a piece of my brain. That day made me quiet. 

A few years after I left my voice in that eighth grade classroom, I found an early college program I wanted to attend. 

It was all I could think about. I started counting down 389 days before applications opened. 

I was 16, and my brain practically exploded as I moved into my first college dorm. I could finally scream at the top of my lungs, and no one could stop me. 

Except they did. 

As I walked in the doors of my new school, no one handed me a megaphone and asked what I had to say. 

I was a 16-year-old girl expecting to be met with open arms and listening ears. Imagine my surprise when I was instead greeted by 16-year-old boys. 

They dragged me to the ground, stepped on my neck and told me not to make a sound. So, I listened. 

Two more years of silence, and I was ready to run out the door. I was tired of the shoes crushing my vocal cords. 

I graduated from the two year program and set out to finish my bachelor’s degree. 

The taste I had of college left a bitter tinge in my mouth, and I didn’t want to continue.

I spent my first semester at the University of Kentucky totally lost. I don’t remember most of it because it was pretty quiet. 

During my second semester, I decided to make a change. Or, more accurately, I got stuck doing a required class assignment that I couldn’t talk my way out of. 

My professor told me I had to get an article published. No one in their right mind would publish a news article written by a student who had only taken one and a half journalism classes. 

As the time ticked by, my options became limited. My professor recommended the Kernel, and I practically dragged myself to my first meeting. 

One lonesome voice greeted me as I entered that stuffy room in McVey Hall, 20 minutes earlier than I was supposed to.

“Hey, friend!” a voice called out.

I think she’s talking to me? 

My voice quiet, my throat sore and my brain wary, I greeted her back and took a seat at the table. 

I had a seat at the table.

At my first Kernel meeting, four different people spoke to me in less than an hour. Each time I responded, they listened to what I had to say. 

With every word, my voice raised in volume. It became more steady. I became more sure. 

I was met with open arms and listening ears. I was met with friends.

The pressure on my throat slowly subsided, as I reintroduced my voice to the quiet air in that janky room.

The people at that table shoved a microphone in my hand and demanded that I speak. 

In McVey Hall, I learned how to use my voice again. 

Over the course of about a year, I have heard the inner workings of the Kernel newsroom from a variety of standpoints. 

Reporter, staff reporter, assistant opinions editor, opinions editor, assistant news editor and finally — begrudgingly — news editor.

I have heard every corner of this newsroom. More importantly, this newsroom has heard me. 

I entered college as a scared 16-year-old kid who thought she would never speak above a whisper. 

I am leaving this newsroom as a scared 19-year-old kid who hasn’t stopped screaming in 15 months. 

I will keep being a friend. I will keep making noise. I will keep screaming. 

I will keep being a Kernelite, even after my voice stops bouncing off the newsroom walls.