For the last time

This is the last piece I’ll publish in The Jambar as editor-in-chief. It may be my last as a staff writer. Regardless of what my future holds, I’m taking a chance to look back on my past two years with The Jambar.

I applied for The Jambar at the end of my senior year of high school. I was attending orientation at Youngstown State University with my mother, who picked up a Jambar sitting on a trash can. It was opened to the classifieds page advertising open positions for fall 2022.

Little did I know the impact that trash can Jambar would have on my life.

I had decided to pursue a degree in journalism only about a week before. So of course, my mother pushed me to apply for a position. Knowing next to nothing about the field, I applied to be a columnist.

A couple weeks later, I walked over from Ursuline High School — still in my school uniform — and interviewed. I was hired as a reporter.

Immediately, I fell in love with journalism and sought out to learn as much as I could. I gained a hunger for chasing the truth — that hunger every journalist talks about. Telling people’s stories became my passion.

Over winter break in 2023, I became editor-in-chief after an amazing reporter, Shianna Gibbons, stepped down from the position. She now reports for 27 WKBN First News. After I finish this semester, I’ll be following in her footsteps, joining WKBN as a multimedia content producer.

Becoming editor-in-chief was far more difficult than I expected. It pushed me to problem solve and navigate chasing the truth through a more nuanced and balanced perspective.

This semester also challenged me in ways I didn’t know were possible. I experienced some of the hardest and lowest points in my life. If I’m being honest — if I want to tell my truth — there were many times I felt like giving up on journalism and on The Jambar.

But I didn’t. I kept going, I was resilient, and I built a portfolio of reporting I’m incredibly proud of.

This experience forced me to learn more about myself. I discovered I love being a leader but I need to set more boundaries. I realized it takes a tough skin to work in the news industry and I have to be okay with constantly receiving criticism from others.

I also learned it’s okay to trust myself. While it was one of the biggest challenges I overcame, I filtered out negative self-talk and went with my gut — not because I wanted to, but because I had to.

I couldn’t have gotten through it, though, without my amazing mentors. While there are many I can list, I want to extend my deepest gratitude to Michele Ristich Gatts and Mary Beth Earnheardt. Your guidance has made me a better journalist and a better person. Thank you for everything. I hope I can make you proud.

I also want to thank all the staff members who gave their all during this hectic semester. I might’ve been tough, and we started the semester putting the paper to bed at 11 p.m., but we published some amazing work. I can’t wait to see everyone continue to grow, whether they’re returning, moving on to new journalistic endeavors or finding new passions.

Finally, to incoming editor-in-chief John Ostapowicz and incoming executive producer, Raeghan Hilton, I know you’ll be amazing. Stick to your gut, be there for each other and always believe in yourselves. I’m here if you ever need anything.

While my time as a staff writer may be up, you’ll still see my name in the paper as a contributor. I will continue serving the YSU community, and I look forward to keeping you informed, educated and aware.

— Molly Burke