Seniors reflect on their time with The Pioneer

Patricia Vanderbilt


The end of this semester brings the end of my time at Whitman, and specific to this post, the end of my involvement with Whitman’s newspaper, the Pioneer. I have worked for the Pio since freshman year as an A&E reporter, A&E production associate, managing editor, and finally features editor.

Working for a newspaper has been fun, at times ridiculous, and often immensely aggravating; but ultimately, something I have enjoyed being a part of for 6 semesters.

Sophomore year the Pio office became my home on Wednesday nights. I made amazing, lasting friendships with people like Margaux and Connor; and solidified friendships with others like Cara and Sara. I remember nights when we would be there much too late into the night and lie on the floor in the hall, in the dark, talking about life.

Junior and senior year allowed me to vastly expand my knowledge of a newspaper and my skills as an editor. I have learned what I am good at and what I still need to work on. I have learned to better understand working as a team and the finesse needed to lead a team. I have learned skills (design, creative, organizational, and visionary) that I may not have gained else where. And I have met people I otherwise might not have known.

In many ways, I feel like I have just gotten into the swing of being an editor and wish I could stay a bit longer. But on the other hand, I am excited to pass the position on to my successor and see what innovative ideas he’s been dreaming up.

Finally, while there have been many issues I’ve been proud of this semester, I am perhaps most proud of our magazine: The Circuit. An idea that Connor and I only ever talked about sophomore year has now become a reality. I think the magazine truly shows the dedication and hard work of our staff. And never before has an article I wrote been framed and hung in a restaurant!

Overall, it is hard to sum up what I’ve learned working for the Pioneer or the importance of the friendships I’ve made. All I can say is I’ve cherished my time here and will occasionally miss Wednesday production nights 🙂


What can I possibly say to summarize three years with The Pioneer? This newspaper helped me land several jobs, taught me about the fascinating trials and tribulations of journalism, pushed me to try new things, kept me in the loop at Whitman, perfected my grammar and introduced me to some of my best friends. I began with the Pio as a production associate in the first semester of my first year, and I was catapulted into leadership as production manager in the spring semester. I swapped design for copy editing my sophomore year, and after a break during my junior year, I came back as web editor for my senior year, occasionally contributing feature pieces over the years. My time with The Pioneer has been utterly invaluable and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

JOSH GOODMAN, Web Content Editor

Working for The Pio has been one of my most meaningful experiences at Whitman. I started my first semester as a staff reporter and quickly moved up the ranks to news editor. This past semester, I was the first web content editor and helped to move The Pio forward in terms of breaking news and social media. From spending several unplanned hours keeping the Whitman community informed about breaking news, to working with reporters to help them improve their journalism skills, to writing and editing articles that start conversations about issues people aren’t talking about, working for The Pio has been incredibly fulfilling. As the icing on the cake, I’ve learned all sorts of details from interviews about everything from admissions to commencement, developed a fondness for pop music (especially Ke$ha) and, most of all, made many great friends.

Technically, this is not quite the end of the road for me: I’m staying on for a couple extra months to help establish The Pio‘s summer web presence (so be sure to keep coming back to the website this summer). But as I reflect near the end, I find it amazing what a team effort goes into making The Pio what it is:  editors, reporters, production assistants, photographers and illustrators all work together to–without any formal training–put together a publication we can feel very proud of. I feel privileged to have been a part of this institution, and look forward to reading The Pio for years to come.

CARA LOWRY, Managing Editor
This year, as I’ve been thinking about my Whitman experience for various reasons (fellowship and job applications, nostalgic moments with friends, personal self-reflection), my time with The Pioneer always seems to work its way to the forefront.
After a brief stint working for blue moon, Whitman’s literary magazine, my freshman year, I switched gears and let the world of student journalism become my dominant (and sometimes defining) activity. I began my time at The Pio my sophomore year as a copy editor, finding a quirky and welcoming community in the editorial and production staff. After a semester abroad, I came back to revive the Feature section with one of my best friends, Tricia Vanderbilt. Senior year, Tricia and I took the reins of the whole operation, she as Editor in Chief and me as her Managing Editor––her left-handed right-hand woman. Tricia and I have a wonderfully complementary working style. She’s the visionary, the motivator; I’m the detail-oriented nit. In addition to catapulting The Pio to new heights this year, the accomplishment I’m most proud of is that our personal friendship has remained as strong as ever. It truly speaks volumes that we didn’t kill each other.
Like all the other seniors, I’m not alone in saying that The Pio has influenced me in so many ways.
It’s been a significant facet of my social life. I’ve made and sustained some great friendships: with those upperclassmen like Margaux, Conner and Gillian who I found so intimidating, so cool and so awe-inspiring when I joined staff, with Sara who was my other half as copy editor and is my twin in most things; with Alyssa and Kelsey, two of my sorority sisters and this year’s Feature Editors; with Ted, this year’s Production Manager and my old Feature PA; with Binta, this year’s Illustration Editor, my freshman-year roommate, and one of my best friends for life; with Rachel, next year’s EIC; with Libby, next year’s Managing Editor (a.k.a. “New Cara,” as she’s taken to signing off on her emails); with Shelly and Karah, this year’s News Editors and the latter of whom I’ll be living with this summer; with Ethan, this year’s Photo Editor and only one who went all-out for any themed costume event I mandated. The list is endless and if I didn’t give you a personal shout-out, it’s because I can’t hog this whole WP post. I love you all. Seriously.
It’s kept me in the loop with everything going on on campus and in the community.
It’s let me take risks and grow as a leader.
And it’s given me real-world skills. I’m just now starting my summer job working in a tasting room in downtown Walla Walla before heading off to teach English in Toulouse, France in the fall. In addition to pouring wine and talking with tourists and locals, I’ve also taken on some odd marketing jobs and most of them involve an application of my Pio editorial skills. I take notes at our weekly marketing meetings, write content four our newsletter, manage a survey that goes to our hotel guests, edit written content for our website and update our Facebook page. It’s heartening to realize that the things I’ve learned and love to do through my years at The Pio will stick with me and come in handy wherever I go.
Thanks, Pio. For everything.