This has been one of the best experiences of my life.

By Jenna Jones

For those who don’t know me, my name is Jenna Jones. I’ve been Editor-in-Chief of this coronavirus project and it has been one of the biggest honors of my life.

I have watched my reporters and classmates work extremely hard throughout one of the most challenging times we’ve faced in our lives. We’ve all been isolated, shut off from the outside world as we do our part to keep our community safe and healthy. Yet, that didn’t stop us from telling stories that matter.

We’ve written about our own experiences. We’ve written about how members of our community have helped each other during a trying time. We’ve written about how our planet will be impacted by a virus that doesn’t discriminate. We’ve written about finances, our fellow students and we’ve given a platform to those who needed one to express how they were feeling.

I’ve been so amazed at every turn by each and every person who I had the opportunity to edit their stories and give feedback on them. They’ve made me a better person, a better editor, and a better journalist.

This is my thank you. Without this team, without this project, I don’t know where I would be. Mental health is something that’s tricky to talk about in our society. I never felt unsafe in my classroom or community talking about how I felt. My classmates checked in on me. My professors cared. 

Without them, I’d be a mess. I don’t do well just sitting in a house, I’m a person that has to keep busy in order to distract my mind. Yet, throughout isolation, I never felt alone. My friends were a Facetime call away. They answered texts, they helped me through whatever I was feeling.

This is from last semester, but about seven of the people in this photo were on staff for this project. Sorry to my friends that aren’t in here. I love you just the same.

I watched them work as hard as possible on stories as well. I’ve never met a group of people so talented and dedicated. I’m sure most of them spent hours on their stories between interviewing, researching, writing, and editing. I will always be grateful for that.

While this semester was challenging, we made it through. We persevered and didn’t let anyone stop us until we reached our goals. We all helped each other out, cheered each other on and had each other’s backs. I really don’t think I’ll ever be able to put in words what this class and what this project meant to me, but this was an attempt. 

So, to all my reporters/classmates, to everyone who read or shared one of our stories: thank you. You mean the world to me. It’s been an incredible, wild experience. Whether we remain online next semester or we get back to a new, in-person reality, I am excited and ready to take the fall semester on.

Thank you, one last time. Stay safe, stay healthy, stay informed. Support journalism at both a local and national level.