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From the Editor: Savannah Nelson

_DSC4380Six months ago, I worried for my future. I woke up every day for weeks, stressed and concerned; though I had been hired as Editor in Chief, it was uncertain if the Sentry would continue to exist. A large chunk of my identity— including my job, work ethic, legacy, and passion to give this school a voice—was suddenly a ballot issue; it was left up to a student body referendum to decide where I, and the newspaper I ran, would be in the next year.

I wondered how, since CU Denver doesn’t have a journalism program, I would continue on my career path if our paper shut down its operations. For some time I wondered if I made a mistake, by focusing on a single passion. My classes have been writing and media-centric, my internship was at a newspaper, and honestly, I passed up average-paying jobs in order to pursue this much more modest choice. Sometimes, after hours of campaigning to #SaveTheSentry, I would lock myself in my car to squeeze in a quick cry and wonder how anyone could overlook how much of an effect this paper has on people’s lives.

This past weekend, I remembered those frustrations and fears. I was in Washington, D.C., at the Associated Collegiate Press National Media Convention, listening to Bob Woodword address a room of college journalists, myself included. “You have the hammer,” he said to a packed auditorium, “and it’s called the First Amendment. Use it. Use it for change.”

As I rose to my feet, joining a standing ovation for one of the most historic American journalists of all time and my personal hero, I allowed myself to remember last spring. In solidarity with other media shapers of the future, who faced the same kinds of doubt and uncertainty and struggles with their own college newspapers, I felt a tear slide down my cheek. It was more than a surge of inspiration. This became a moment of redemption.

The Sentry not only lives on, but it thrives. Through attending the ACP conference with Managing Editor Morgan Mackey, we established ourselves on a national scale. Not only were we able to give away samples of our newspaper, we networked with young professionals facing the same kinds of issues on their own campuses. We workshopped; we received feedback and critiques. Most importantly, we departed from D.C. with a reinstated pride in the Sentry—what we’ve been through, what we’ve accomplished, and most of all, where we’re going.

From watching the presidential debate at a D.C. bar to hearing Edward Snowden recognize our power as press, this trip proved to be unforgettable. Donna Brazile spoke on sourcework and integrity, and our tour of CBS was informative for career opportunities. Morgan and I only got lost in the city about 15 times, and my nephew murmured in his sleep when I first held him. And while I’m excited to pass on what I learned and happy to continue teaching my staff, I’m most thankful for that fateful week in April, when students said yes to their student voice. The CU Denver Sentry is here to stay.

Savannah Nelson
Savannah Nelson

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