All good things…

The Signal placed 21 times in 17 categories at the GCPA Awards in Athens, GA, including 12 first place wins and the "General Excellence" award.

After four years at the paper, it’s somewhat difficult for me to imagine life beyond The Signal‘s newsroom.

When I joined the staff in 2010, I had no clue what to expect after first walking through the doors to sit through my first new writer’s workshop. But looking back, it’s impossible for me to separate my time at the newspaper from my time at Georgia State.

After years of countless nights and weekends spent making sure the paper was just right each week, I realize now that The Signal has taught me more than just how to write an news story or op-ed.

Certainly, it’s proved invaluable in teaching me life lessons that I’ll not soon forget about taking responsibility, what it means to be a leader, why it’s important to cultivate diversity of personality, how to deal with people and why clear communication is critical.

Beyond that, however, it’s helped facilitate lifelong friendships that have profoundly expanded and reshaped my worldview. For that and more, I will always be grateful for the opportunity to be a part of something so unique and special.

But with that said, a lot has changed since 2010.

For starters, we completely rebooted the paper two years ago. What began with a few design changes turned into a culture change that has forever transformed how The Signal operates – or at least I hope so.

With the goals of creating a more recognizable brand on campus, improving the overall look and design of the paper, expanding our web presence and increasing communication between staff members, we ended up rethinking the entire philosophy behind The Signal and have been rewarded for our efforts.

For example, our circulation is nearly double what it was two years ago, our social media following has more than quadrupled, our web traffic has never been higher, and we’re producing more daily stories for online and print to cover a wider variety of topics than we’ve ever attempted before. Plus, in that same timespan, we’ve taken home some of the country’s top collegiate journalism awards.

But it’s never been about awards or circulation for that matter.

For me, it’s mostly about a promise that I made to each of you – the readers – almost one year ago in my first issue as editor-in-chief.

In that letter, I said that under my watch The Signal would not become a branch of the university’s PR office, nor would we forsake our mission of providing fair and earnest news in the interest of the University community and acting as a training ground for new staff members.

That’s a responsibility I’ve taken very seriously, and I like to think we’ve succeeded in many ways in that regard.

Sure, we’ve had a few bumps in the road along the way, but we’ve also churned out some great work that any college paper would be proud to claim. And I think that’s a direct reflection of the staff as we’ve matured and learned to work well with each other.

Just as I’ve grown a lot since 2010, this year I’ve witnessed some pretty substantial personal transformations at every level. Indeed, I’ve seen people come to this job with practically no experience and leave as seasoned reporters and editors with huge potential.

To me, that’s the beauty of college media: It allows you to try something out and – succeed or fail – come out the better for it.

In that sense, The Signal is Georgia State at its very best. It’s intelligent, it’s hardworking, it’s resourceful, and it’s diverse. But it’s also a place where people can find themselves and become a part of something that’s bigger than they are, if you just try.

Like all good things, however, I can’t hold on to it forever.

It’s been an amazing ride these past four years, and I want to again thank those that have helped me – pushed me, even – to become a bigger part of it.

Seriously, you guys mean the world.