The Scarlet Letter
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In my first two weeks working for The Scarlet, I learned just about everything I have ever needed to know about the culture of this school. I was a shy first-year and I knew what I liked doing the best (graphic design), but I had no how I would fit design work into my life here, and I had even less of an idea of how I would start to FIT IN here, in general.
The answer to both questions came in the form of a text from Anna Spack (‘16) during our first week of classes. Apparently, she had just gone to the first Scarlet meeting of the semester, hoping to join their staff of writers. There she had found the wonderful Claire Tierney (‘14) and Jeremy Levine (‘15) scrambling to put together a paper after the rest of the E-Board, including all of the newspaper’s layout staff, had graduated the previous spring.
Luckily, Anna and I go way back, and she knew that any opportunity to do graphic design would make me show up to a club meeting, even if I only had a vague interest in the actual purpose of the club. So, the next Wednesday at 7 p.m., I showed up in the Libby Lounge of the Geography Building, ready to design the entire newspaper from scratch if they needed me to. And, as it turns out, that’s exactly what they needed me to do. All I had to go off was a printed copy of The Scarlet from the previous year, Adobe InDesign on my computer, and my gut instincts about what a newspaper should look like. And from there on out, I was The Scarlet’s official Layout Editor, in charge of every detail of the newspaper’s design from start to finish.
A lot has changed since then, both in The Scarlet and in my own life. Most importantly, the design of the newspaper has gotten WAY better since that first issue (I re-designed the whole template and logo at the beginning my sophomore year, able to make much better design decisions after a year’s worth of layout experience). This past year, I’ve stepped back from my initial role as Layout Editor, passing on the torch to the very talented Chris Rentsman as I focus on the endless lists of other design projects that fill up my schedule. But the things that those first few weeks with The Scarlet taught me about this school and its people have stuck with me in a big way.
It may be over-said, but Clarkies truly are so PASSIONATE — Claire and Jeremy had barely anything to go on at the beginning of that year, working with few resources and even less faculty support, but they cared enough about this newspaper to keep on going until 4 a.m. every single Wednesday (both metaphorically and literally). They were deeply kind, taking me under their wing and making me feel like I had a home at this school, even in my first few weeks here. And they believed in me. I came to them with no newspaper layout experience, and barely any print design experience, and said, “I can design this newspaper for you.” And they believed me.
That is the kind of place that Clark has been for me, every single week since the first one I spent as part of The Scarlet. It has been a place filled with passion, kindness, and with people who have supported me endlessly. And so, this letter is my small way of saying thank you. Thank you to Claire, Jeremy, Anna, Sarah, Chris, and everyone else who has made showing up at that very first Scarlet meeting one of the best decisions of my entire four years at this school. I can’t say I’ll miss the 4 a.m. nights, but I’ll be forever grateful for this newspaper and the wonderful, wonderful people who have put their heart and soul into making it what it is today.