After a year of remote learning, seniors bid farewell to Hilltop Views

Every year, Hilltop Views’ graduating seniors reflect on their time at St. Edward’s and our student newspaper. This year’s graduating class of 2021 have endured a year of remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But, they are leaving St. Edward’s with newfound knowledge and experience, having adapted to the circumstances of this unprecedented situation.

Christine Sanchez, Editor-in-Chief

After countless late production nights and skipping classes to cover stories, I can’t believe that the time has come to say goodbye to the publication that helped make me who I am.

I started at Hilltop Views walking into my first budget meeting freshman year. I was bright eyed and bushy tailed, yet shy and nervous. As months went by, I began writing consistently and improving my interviewing and writing skills with every story. I was quickly hooked, and soon my quiet nature fell back a bit as I led interviews and became more outspoken.

My sophomore year, I became a staff writer and mainly covered stories for the news section. I then worked my way up to becoming news editor, pitching and editing stories for my favorite section. Soon after St. Edward’s sent all of its students home in March 2020 due to the pandemic, I was asked to be the next co-EIC, a dream of mine since my freshman year. My quiet freshman year self would have never expected to now be leading the newspaper, a role I am so grateful to have.

Through Hilltop Views, I’ve been able to cultivate my writing, reporting and digital media skills, qualities that I will use for the rest of my career. I’m thankful for this publication and for everyone who I have ever worked with. As I close out this chapter in my life, I’m thinking of those who helped me get to where I am today. 

Thank you to Curt Yowell and Jena Heath for guiding me through my four years at St. Edward’s. You both helped me not only to gain a passion for reporting but also in figuring out my next career moves as I prepare to transition into post-grad life. I know I can continue to come to you both for anything after I graduate. Thank you for being caring advisors and mentors to me.

Thank you to my amazing HV girls, Gianni, Sierra, Sammy Jo, Kelly and Myrka for welcoming me with open arms when I became news editor and for always making budget meetings and productions better. I’m happy to call you all some of my closest friends now and I can’t wait to see you all again in person.

Gianni, thank you for being an amazing co-EIC, roommate and friend. You’ve helped me become a better leader and have been incredibly supportive of everything I do, and I’m forever grateful for that.

Nina, the ideas and perspectives you’ve brought to HV since you were a freshman have continued to make our paper amazing. I admire your kindness and talent and cannot wait to see the exciting places you’ll go. Wherever you end up will be so lucky to have you.

Adrian, thank you for always being there for me in my moments of self-doubt and imposter syndrome. You’ve been my rock for the past year and a half and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I’m so grateful to have met you through HV and I’ll always be here to support you as you support me.

Matt, thank you for guiding me and teaching me everything I know throughout my time at HV. You’ve made me a better reporter and helped me learn the ropes of news editing.

Thank you to Amanda Gonzalez for always encouraging me during my first year at Hilltop Views. Watching you lead budget meetings made me realize I wanted to be EIC one day, and I don’t think I would have been motivated to actually get there if it weren’t for you.

To my parents and brother, thank you for always reminding me who I am and what I’m capable of. You’ve instilled in me a love of learning and a curiosity that has shaped who I am and made me a better reporter.

To everyone I’ve worked with, thank you all for your kindness and dedication to HV. I couldn’t ask for a better team. I admire you all for continuing to write, edit, take photos, design spreads, update the St. Edward’s community through social media or newsletters and create our print issues through the pandemic. I know it hasn’t been easy, but you all made exceptional work that you should be proud of.

Farewell, Hilltop Views. Though I’m sad to say goodbye, I’m looking forward to keeping up with all of the great stories and great people that make up our mighty student newspaper.

 

George Murray, Sports Editor

Recently, I have found it difficult to talk about the past four years without descending into cliches. Undoubtedly, the two and a half of those years I have spent as a part of Hilltop Views added an extra layer to the overall experience — one which I will always look back on with pride and great memories.

Time really has flown by. I remember walking around campus for the first time, when I visited a few months before the start of the Fall 2017 semester, and promising myself that I would immerse myself in the experiences that lay ahead. I wanted to improve and develop in all aspects of my life as I moved away from home the first time; since that day I believe I have done that — as an athlete, a student and a journalist.

I wasn’t aware of the university’s student newspaper straight away. In fact, it took me until my sophomore year to slow down and fully take advantage of campus opportunities, after a whirlwind first year in which at every turn there was a new place to see or event to attend. I heard about Hilltop Views and made friends almost instantly, having spent a couple of budget meetings keeping to myself. I was eager to show off my writing skills and got to work.

After a semester of writing a wide range of stories, I had built up some more valuable experience towards my desired career: sports journalism and/or broadcasting. I became one of the sports editors and joined someone special to create a partnership to rival the very best in sporting history.

It would be unfair of me not to name drop the person who took my student-journalist experience at Hilltop Views to another level: Adrian Gonzalez. I am so grateful for your positivity and support, and won’t forget you laughing at me all the times I wanted to put my head through the computers at production. Having someone as passionate as you are about storytelling and sports by my side made things easy and brought out the best in me.

I also want to say thank you to the brilliant editors-in-chief I have worked with, as well as the whole team of people who already have and will continue to do incredible things in the coming years. In the 15 months or so since the pandemic took hold and threw everything into doubt, the HV team has worked harder than ever. It did not stop, but continued to write news stories related to the university and beyond. I must finally say thank you to some important mentors connected to Hilltop Views. 

To Jena Heath: your belief in me and unwavering assistance with securing internships and applications never went unnoticed. You have always been honest with me along the way; I appreciate that and will value your expert advice at such a crucial time for the rest of my life. 

To Curt Yowell: I am grateful for your support and insight as one of my favorite professors. You were always approachable and the fact that you were an advisor to Hilltop Views, then, was a bonus.

Now, as I enter the final weeks of my college experience, I reflect on the decision to join the paper as a timely one. Beyond the crucial skills I have picked up and relationships made along the way, Hilltop Views gave me the platform to win a TIPA (Texas Intercollegiate Press Association) sports column award for an article I wrote on the role of sports in the Black Lives Matter movement. 

It also enabled me to be awarded the university’s Michele Kay Outstanding Student Journalist for my graduating class, which was an incredible honor. I could not have achieved these without my colleagues or the other driving forces of my life, my amazing girlfriend, Kennedy, and my parents.

I say farewell to St. Edward’s and Hilltop Views in the knowledge that the paper is in the hands of similarly passionate, hard-working people to those I have worked with.

 

Sammy Jo Cienfuegos, Viewpoints Editor

Once I arrived at St. Edward’s and looked out at the horizon right across from the famous Main Building, I knew I was about to experience something wonderful. What I didn’t know was just how wonderful these past four years would be. I made the best friends I could have asked for, learned so much about my favorite subject in the world, writing, and experienced the best four years of the fun and carefree life Austin gifted to me– the life I had been longing for.

When I first arrived at St. Edward’s, I was a little bit lost. I originally signed up to be a biology major, which was interesting and all, but it just wasn’t me. The thing is: when I arrived at St. Edward’s, I hadn’t allowed me to be myself until that point. All I remember was looking right across from JBWN to the quaint Sorin Hall and wondering how much fun they were having in there. I could almost see the creative and exceptionally loving energy radiating to the mighty Sorin Oak. This might be St. Edward’s best kept secret, but I think the reason that tree has grown to its massive size and maintained its beauty for all these years is because of the greatness seeping into the ground that drips down Sorin Hall.

It’s no surprise that I immediately changed my area of study to something that was a lot more me.

As time went on, I kept on finding these shining pebbles in my path that made my life so much more enjoyable, so much more authentic. Whether it was joining AmericaIWill, BHooved, It’s On Us or Hilltop Views, everything came together and helped me become a better version of myself– a version that continues to grow and change, and will long after I leave the Hilltop. I am eternally grateful for everything I was able to accomplish during my time here and for the opportunity to build meaningful relationships with whom I believe to be the best people this silly little world has to offer.

To my loving and supportive parents, thank you for always being there. From my first grade Christmas recitals to making me some warm tea when I was especially missing a sense of normalcy, please know that nothing has gone unnoticed. You have given me all of the love and support you have been able to muster up. Thank you for believing in me.

To my first friends on the Hilltop, Judith, Sierra and Cassie. I don’t know who I’d be or where I’d be without you. I have never made such special friendships and am eternally grateful for your warmth and radiance. I keep every study session, every lunch date, every downtown adventure in my heart and I will forever. 

To the most impressive, kind and caring group of professors, I give you the greatest thank you. Thank you to Mary Rist, Sasha West, Alan Altimont, Beth Eakman, Curt Yowell and Drew Loewe. Thank you for always being patient and kind. Thank you for always pushing me to do more–to be more. Throughout the past four years, I have thought about what I’d write in the thank-you cards I planned on giving each of you before graduation. If I haven’t already sent an email with what I have been planning on saying, expect one very soon.

To Timothy Braun, because of course you would need a special and separate thank you. You pushed me in a way that I had honestly never been pushed before. You showed me exactly what I was capable of and always provided much-needed encouragement, advice I will continue to refer back to, and comfort. Thank you for always reminding your sugar cubes to carry their umbrella. I hope you always carry yours with you, too.

To the best people to share a hallway with, Emily and Dylan. Somehow the very best people from my beautiful hometown followed me here. The memories I shared with you, whether it be finding ways to survive off of $20 of meal plan or laughing our heads off, are some of the sweetest memories that have kept my heart warm during this trying time. I feel as if the universe cherrypicked you two as my guardian angels. Thank you for your love and your laughter.

To the lovely group of people who have pushed me to be the very best version of myself. You know who you are, and if you don’t, you 100% should. To Sierra, Gianni, Christine, Myrka, Adrian, Matt, Kelly, Nina and Gracie, thank you for creating the best environment for me to be my happiest. I mean that when I say it. When I think back on my happiest moments, whether it be now or ten years in the future, I will picture us laughing on the evergreen lawn, drinking RedBull concoctions, misreading restroom signs and honestly, I will picture our embraces. No group of people gives better hugs.

To the best co-editor to experience a pandemic with, Ben. You have been so patient and kind to me this past year, and I appreciate everything so much more than you know. You’re one of the coolest people I met during my time at St. Edward’s and I’m happy that I got a chance to work with you, even under these circumstances.

St. Edward’s has given me so much, and I am eternally grateful. No words could ever do it justice, but I suppose I tried my very best.

 

Ben Cardillo, Viewpoints Editor

I have spent the past month trying to take inventory of how I have grown and what I have accomplished over the past four years. As a result, I can already feel the post-grad blues setting in and sense the nostalgia for my college experience swelling up into a tidal wave set to crash a month from now; or 100 months from now. My time at Hilltop Views is a big piece of all the experiences I am now reflecting on. 

In some ways I already said my final farewell to St. Edward’s and its students at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, but with one week left, that now seems like a half-truth I have been telling myself. I became editor of Viewpoints at the beginning of this school-year, and the crew at Hilltop Views has been the one thing keeping past March’s departure from truly being that final farewell to St. Edward’s. Over the past year I have been able to meet new people and grow closer with those I already knew because of my involvement with Hilltop Views. In other words: Hilltop Views has been one of the few surviving relics of my pre-COVID college experience, and I am deeply thankful for that. 

I began writing for Hilltop Views at the beginning of the 2019/2020 school year doing event and news coverage. However, I quickly branched out and began writing for the other sections. (Except for Sports, sorry George, Adrian, and Odett.) Writing for Hilltop Views allowed me to make my voice heard in a more meaningful way than stories I wrote for class, and to me, this served as an affirmation of my desire to pursue journalism as a career. Without Hilltop Views, I would not be as confident in my writing nor would I be as confident in my future in the writing field. 

To Gianni Zorilla and Matthew San Martin, thank you for giving me the opportunity to start getting my writing published. Thank you for helping me sharpen my skills as a writer. 

To Sammy Jo Cienfuegos, thank you for bringing me on as a Viewpoints editor and showing me the ropes. I could not have asked for a better co-editor over the tumultuous past year. 

To Christine Sanchez, thank you for guiding me and all the editors to be a successful team this past year. 

To George Murray, Odett Ochoa, Grace Bent, Gracie Watt, Nina Martinez and Sierra Rozen, thank you for composing a passionate, driven team of editors who adapted and flourished during a (hopefully) once in a lifetime event. 

To Curt Yowell, thank you for serving as my advisor, professor and mentor at Hilltop Views during my time at St. Edward’s. You have taught me invaluable information and how to critically analyze media. 

To all Hilltop Views writers current or past, thank you for taking Viewpoints stories and approaching their subject matter with grace and nuance. None of this would be possible without you.