TPN says ‘so long’ to senior editors

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By The Pitt News Staff

EDITOR’S NOTE: With campuses emptied and University life brought to a halt, student journalism is in a tough spot right now. We’re asking our readers to please support the work of our current staff, as well as the next generation of Pitt student journalists, by donating here. Thank you for your support!

It’s been a long year — though for these editors, time has flown by. We are upset that our time in person has been cut short due to a certain virus, but we are grateful for the memories we made during our time together. TPN is saying goodbye this year to eight members of its staff graduating from the editorial board who have all made an impact on the paper and their peers.

Photo Courtesy of Trent Leonard

Trent Leonard, Sports Editor // Stephen Thompson, Assistant Sports Editor

When I first met Trent Leonard, he struck me as a man of few words. He limits his speech to admonishments of LeBron James or staunch defenses of Draymond Green. But in my two years at The Pitt News I have learned that Trent’s eloquence and articulation has always been saved for his writing. He has a rare knack of turning even the wildest of ideas generated in his head to measured, reasonable takes in short bursts on Twitter or long-form through his writing.

His creativity knows no bounds and has kept our desk afloat through even the most dire of content droughts. He is able to craft an almost flawless story from nothing in no time at all. His talent and experience have helped build a robust sports desk that is well suited to carry on past his graduation.

I received famously informal editor training from Trent, but it has served me all the better. He helped teach me to be independent, to think on my feet, expand the range of my work and enjoy my job while I was at it. As a boss, coworker and friend, he has been an essential part of my Pitt experience and cannot wait to see what he chooses to do next.

Photo courtesy of Brian Gentry

Brian Gentry, Online Visual Editor // Emily Wolfe, Digital Manager

Brian Gentry can bake a beautiful loaf of bread. He looks nice in a sweater. He plays the piano semi-professionally. He can grow a mustache, although the mustache is gone now. He almost ran a marathon. The marathon got cancelled, but that wasn’t his fault. If the marathon had not been cancelled, he could have completed it in under three hours. He is better at math than anybody I know. He’s an excellent writer. He’s a formidable enemy in Settlers of Catan. 

At different points, Brian has been a TPN columnist, online visual editor and an assistant news editor, but he’s never confined himself to the duties in his job title. He loves to cross over and try something new — and he usually ends up being stupidly good at it. Sometimes, when I wonder how my life would be different if I hadn’t come to Pitt, I get tripped up trying to imagine the last two years of my life without Brian in them. It’s hard for me to imagine. But it’s even harder to picture a world where Brian himself chose a different school. Then it wouldn’t just be me who missed out on him — TPN wouldn’t have gotten him, either. That means a Pitt News without “Cooking With Brian,” without the lede “Port Authority is taking care of some bus-ness in Oakland,” without this crappy crossword puzzle he and I made together. Unimaginable.

Brian had the pick of some of the country’s most prestigious engineering schools when he was deciding where to go after Pitt. In the end, like Troy Bolton, he chose the program that gave him the best of both worlds — Carnegie Mellon University, which will give him both a double Ph.D. and a school that’s only 0.6 miles away from the TPN office on the William Pitt Union’s fourth floor. So he’d better come back and visit. I love him so much.

Brian Gentry is currently single. If you would like to go on a date with him, contact me at [email protected].

Photo Courtesy of Bailey Sasseville

Bailey Sasseville, Copy Chief // Jon Moss, News Editor

When I think of Bailey, I think of warm weather and a large order of fries from Five Guys. Although we have both been TPN staffers for some time, we only met at the beginning of last summer when we both took over as heads for our respective desks — her, copy; me, news. Over those runs for deliciously greasy food, we quickly became friends. Throw in some possums on sticks, a hole-in-the-wall Shadyside restaurant and the rest is history.

A copy desk veteran, she knows AP and TPN style like the back of her hand. If there’s one thing that Bailey is, it’s kind and generous with her time, whether in person with style questions or texts at 2 a.m. Other editors probably get annoyed every time I peep my head out from behind my cubicle to yell out a style question. After a quick smirk — she puts the “sass” in “Sasseville” without fail — she always walks me through whatever rule I’m wondering about. Asking style questions is just me collecting rent, after all — my desk drawer is filled with her textbooks, coffee creamer and assorted utensils. I’m a nice desk drawer landlord — I collect payment in obscure grammar questions.

I will miss you smirking while sending me memes and dog pictures, making French toast and getting updates every few minutes about your all-nighters. Although, maybe these things won’t go away if a certain unnamed University headquartered at 4200 Fifth Ave. pulls through, and then we’ll be taking pictures in our caps and gowns together in two years. Thank you for a great year of friendship, Bailey! This isn’t goodbye — it’s see you later.

Photo Courtesy of Janine Faust

Janine Faust, Editor-in-Chief // Leah Mensch, Opinions Editor

Here are a few random facts about Janine Faust.

Janine is our outgoing EIC. With her baking skills, Janine could probably win “The Great British Bake Off,” except she actually can’t because she isn’t British. Whenever Janine says, “I just have a couple housekeeping things to go over,” she is about to tell you that you need to get your stories in to her before 10 p.m. Janine doesn’t drink very much, but if she were to reincarnate into an alcoholic beverage, she’d be a hard cider. If Janine reincarnated into a food, she’d be a strawberry yogurt. Janine is NOT a cat person. The first time I met Janine, it was when she hired me to be the opinions editor, which in hindsight seems strange, but it catalyzed a friendship I’m so thankful for. Janine’s sister knows a guy who is deemed the best Fortnite player in the world. When a sentence is too long and confusing, Janine will comment “wonky sentence.” Nobody really knows what this means, but all the editors say it now, too.

Janine has led The Pitt News through many ups and downs — including the COVID-19 pandemic — and she’s done this better than I could’ve possibly imagined. Not just because she’s a talented journalist, which she is, but because she cares about this newspaper, her editors and her entire staff more than anything else in the world. This is how I know for sure that, wherever Janine ends up, she’s going to do amazing things for not just her community, but for the world as a journalist.

Right after Janine hired me, an instructor in the English department (quite randomly) told me, “Janine Faust? Janine can do it all.”

I’ve learned over this past year that Janine can, in fact, do it all. And she will — so long as Gov. Tom Wolf legally permits her to leave her house for more than the essentials.

Photo Courtesy of Caroline Bourque

Caroline Bourque, Managing Editor // Maggie Young, Assistant Copy Chief

When I finally placed a face to the name at the beginning of this year, I was quickly impressed by Caroline. She’s so incredibly kind — like, the sweetest person you’ll ever meet — and a talented storyteller. I’m honored to have had the opportunity to serve under her leadership this year. Her bright smile and endearing laugh often set the tone for the rest of the office, and she and I often were the butt of jokes together for somehow not knowing a random pop-culture reference.

I got to spend time with Caroline on the other side of the Monongahela through our internships at 90.5 WESA. And let me tell you — she’s an absolute stud. Not only does she have the cutest work ’fits — regular ’fits too, might I add — she has an investigative edge and clear writing style that commands the attention of any reader.

What I admire most about Caroline is her diverse set of interests and her ability to make them work for her. I have no doubt that her stellar film and writing backgrounds have allowed her to fine-tune the worldview she possesses that so inspires those around her. A magnificent leader — I’m sad to see her go, but I look forward to seeing her light shine somewhere new.

Photo Courtesy of Delilah Bourque

Delilah Bourque, Culture Editor // Benjamin Nigrosh, Assistant News Editor

Ah, Delilah! Where do I even begin? I think my first memory of you was when you visited me at my desk, saw that I was wearing a flannel shirt and proceeded to draw plaid patterns (or, “plaid-erns”) on my whiteboard. I wish I could have known in that moment how characteristically “you” that was. For every part of you that is enthusiastic and random, there is a part of you that is creative, honest, compassionate and all-around wonderful. You are such a kind and special soul, which is why I won’t let you shave a notch in your eyebrow. Please know that that is the greatest gift I could ever give you.

If you ever want to see Delilah totally stoked, just say something about camping. Seriously, she’s the only person I know who has instructed me on the four proper ways to build a campfire (with an added fifth if it’s an especially windy day) in a conversation that started with lentils.

I’m so immensely thankful for you, your friendship bracelets and your bright yellow jacket that makes you look like a duck.

You are the Chris Fleming to my Depiglio, StitchFix queen and hammock extraordinaire. I’m glad you’ll be here for a while longer because I don’t think I will be able to survive off of the land when the electricity shuts off and the government turns on us in this apocalyptic hell-scape we find ourselves currently inhabiting.

Photo Courtesy of Delilah Bourque

Elise Lavallee, Co-layout Editor // Mary Rose O’Donnell, Assistant News Editor

Though I don’t remember the first time I met Elise, I will always remember the fun energy her presence brought to the office every time she walked in. From referencing TikToks to sharing her political views, Elise is incredibly passionate and isn’t afraid to speak her mind. She is a TPN lifer and has done so much at the paper — taking pictures, being co-layout editor and writing news articles and columns.

Elise was also the first ever digital manager and set the tone and foundation for the desk. As a former digital manager myself, I am incredibly grateful for the work she did in that first semester back in 2018. Our newsletter would not be nearly what it is today without her. I am so proud to be one of her digital manager descendents.

I really loved having Elise around this year, and I will miss her greatly. She is SO talented and will thrive in whatever career she chooses. Turn up for Elise Lavallee!

Photo Courtesy of Sarah Connor

Sarah Connor, Audience Engagement Editor // Sarah Cutshall, Visual Editor

Having been one of two Sarah Cs in the office, when I hear someone calling for “Sarah!” I could generally figure out who it was intended for based on the subject. Bands, eyebrows, Harry Potter, figure skating, being emo, Harry Styles, Starbucks … that’s Sarah Connor.

I’ve worked next to Sarah for two years now — during my first full year as visual editor, she was the culture editor and her cubicle was less than 5 feet away from mine. This year, I’ve been glad to serve free coffee to our (surprisingly unenthusiastic?) peers almost monthly during our new Copy and Coffee events, which she helped organize, and have a front seat when she returned to her old cubicle on publication nights to give us updates on her dating life, concerts she’s been to recently and, oh, being accepted into one of the best journalism programs in the country for grad school.

We’ve talked about being a journalism power duo, with her writing killer culture articles about bands and music in New York and me taking the pictures, but I don’t know if I’d be worthy — at the very least she knows I’m always down to go to a show with her. I know that whatever she ends up doing, it’ll be something she loves and she shouldn’t settle for anything less. This year especially, I’ve watched Sarah grow so much personally and professionally, and I’m positive she’ll be able to forge her own path and find something incredible.

Self-described as basic, Sarah Connor is anything but.

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