Senior Farewell | Life is hard and then you die [Cover]

Victoria Ratliff (middle) alongside friends Lacey Watt (right) and Haley Carney (left) at the end of the legislative session at the Indiana Statehouse in the spring of 2020.

“Life is hard and then you die.”

If I had a penny for every time I’ve heard the Pulliam School of Journalism’s unofficial motto, I’d be set for life.

When I came in as a freshman, I heard that phrase for the first time in the basement of the Indiana Statehouse. I was already stressed, as the 2019 legislative session had just begun, and I was thrown right in the middle of it. PSJ Director John Krull walked in, saw me working hard (and probably nearly in tears from frustration), uttered the phrase, then walked out.

But as I spent more and more time in PSJ, Shirk and the newsroom, I heard that phrase more and more. And every time, it still scared me. I was afraid that not only would the next four years of my life be hell, but every year after until I die.

And John, you know I love you, but I hate that motto.

Yes, life sucks sometimes. I’ve had some pretty sucky days over my college career. But as I sit here and attempt to reflect on the past 3 years, those aren’t the moments that come to mind.

What comes to mind are all the amazing memories.

First, the people. The Franklin and PSJ have introduced me to the best friends I’ve ever had; Abrahm Hurt, Lacey Watt and Haley Carney. I remember all the coffee/Taco Bell-induced late nights in the newsroom. I remember ranting to each other in the car while we drive down Franklin’s back roads.

And I definitely remember the times I had to hackle them for their assignments, because their deadline was actually three days ago.

I remember the summer we spent at the Statehouse, and how we definitely slacked off a little too much. That summer was filled with long days, long walks to the parking lot in 90-degree weather and two-hour long lunch breaks at the City Market. But that summer was also the summer I met my best friends.

Second, I remember all the places I was able to go. I remember going on my first trip to Washington D.C. with an amazing group of leaders from The Franklin. There, I was able to attend sessions from professional journalists and do some well-deserved sightseeing. The Franklin was a Pacemaker finalist and was by far the smallest publication nominated. The hard work of the small but mighty staff at The Franklin brought us there, and it was so rewarding to see our hard work rewarded (while having a well-deserved break at the same time).

I also remember traveling to the Society of Professional Journalists award luncheon. I was nominated for a collegiate award in feature writing for a story I wrote my freshman year for The Franklin. While I didn’t win, I was so excited to be among some of Indiana’s best journalists. It ignited a passion for journalism and storytelling within me that was stronger than ever. I just remember feeling like I could take on the world, like I was invincible.

Finally, I remember all the great opportunities given to me. Because of PSJ and The Franklin’s flexibility and opportunities, I am able to graduate a year early with a degree in multimedia journalism (which is something I didn’t think I’d be able to do even in four years).

I’ve listened to former Executive Editor of the Washington Post Marty Baron speak about leading the real-life newsroom featured in the movie Spotlight. I’ve spoken to and interviewed some of Indiana’s top leaders in the Statehouse.

I was able to work with awesome people at The Franklin and produce some amazing content I’m very proud of. I was able to chat with Ann or Cindy in Shirk and instantly cheer up. And of course, I was able to bully Joel every day in class.

So yes, John, life does suck sometimes. And you will eventually die.

But in between, there are some pretty awesome memories.

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