Final thoughts and boundless thanks


Michael Clubb

2021-2023 Kentucky Kernel Editor-in-Chief Rayleigh Deaton poses with her graduation stole and the Kernel historical marker at the University of Kentucky on March 29, 2023. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff file photo

Rayleigh Deaton, Editor-in-Chief

I wish I could go back in time and get a coffee with my younger self.

Specifically, a coffee at the William T. Young Library Starbucks on Feb. 4, 2021, with sophomore year Rayleigh.

That was the day that my life changed. Because that was the day that I first considered applying for the position of editor-in-chief of the Kentucky Kernel.

The words “imposter syndrome” have never been so visceral, so personal, as sitting there with my laptop on a Zoom call with Ryan Craig, student media adviser.

“What do you think about applying to be Kernel editor?” Ryan asked.

I think I laughed out loud. Of all the reasons that Ryan would ask to meet with me, I never in a million years would have dreamed that this would be the topic of conversation.

Kernel editor? What does that even mean? What sad masochist would do that?

Me. I’m the masochist. Twice, actually.

If senior year Rayleigh were there with my younger self that day in Starbucks, I would have shaken me by the shoulders and screamed that this would be the single best decision I would ever make in college so don’t you dare say no.

The Kentucky Kernel has been the saving grace of my time at UK. It has brought into my life some of the best, most incredibly talented people I could ever hope to meet.

And believe me, the imposter syndrome doesn’t go away. There were days, even in my second year of the editorship, when I still felt grossly underqualified, that there’s been a horrible mistake and the Kernel Board of Directors is going to realize they’ve got the wrong girl sitting in the editor’s seat.

But this experience has taught me that I belong here, with these wonderful people, in this amazing, glorious, full of late nights, makes you want to rip your hair out, is totally worth it all, world of journalism.

The Kernel has given me a home, a place where I could truly be myself with people who love me and support me, even on the days when I’m not at my best.

To Ryan, thank you for believing in me from the start. You are a huge part of why I’m here, why I’m where I am today. Thank you for your mentorship, your encouragement, your stories that never cease to amaze and sometimes deeply concern me. But through it all, you’ve been there, and I very truly could not have done it without you.

To Hannah Stanley, the next in this phenomenal lineage of Kernel editors, you inspire me. You are so incredibly strong and passionate and unafraid, it’s been an honor to work with you. The Kernel is in wonderful, capable hands, and I know you will do amazing things by being who you are.

To my parents, what can I say? How can I ever thank you for the years of love and unconditional support you have given me? I am the person I am because of you and the opportunities you have provided me; thank you for encouraging me to take the plunge and give my all in whatever I do. You’re my biggest cheerleaders, and I love you more than my meager words can express.

To Michael, the love of my life. You are my rock, my home. You have stood by me during good days and bad and loved me through it all. You are truly the sweetest person I’ve ever met, and calling you my own is my greatest joy. Thank you for encouraging me and for making me feel like I can do anything, as long as I have you. How fitting it is that we met at the Kernel – this newspaper truly is a magical place, even if it was in the third floor of McVey Hall. I think that’s the most beautiful place in the world because it’s where I fell in love with you, and we started writing our incredible journalism love story.

And to the insanely talented reporters, photographers, social media managers, designers and advisers at the Kernel, from the bottom of my heart, I love you. The list is too long to include everyone, but Abbey, Jack, Gray, Hunter, Corrie, Carter, Alexis, Karrington, Gillian, Travis, Barkley, Kendall, Sarah, Zach, Cole, Kaci and so many others, you have made my life better.

It has been the honor of a lifetime to be your editor, and you amaze me every day. Thank you for giving me more than I gave you – every day, every hour.