Jordan Brownhill

Jordan Brownhill, Co Editor in Chief

The first thing I can remember wanting to be was a writer. Words made sense to me. I spent my summers as a kid reading. I brought a book with me everywhere. I never rode in the car without one, even when I inevitably got car sick. I wanted to be exactly like all my favorite authors. I remember once as a kid digging an old notebook out of my closet and deciding to write my first book in it.

As I got older, I started learning more about the world around me, and my dream of becoming a writer led me to journalism.

Writing books in old notebooks turned into hijacking my mom’s computer and making a fake newspaper about the events in my family’s lives. I loved to write about even the most mundane things. I just liked the feeling of stringing words together.

So as I scanned the list of classes available to me my first year of high school, I jumped at the chance to take a journalism class. It was a chance for me to write for a real paper, a paper that would publish my writing for others to see.

My first thought when Ben DeGear explained to me in Journalism 1 that I would have to interview other students was “How can I pass this class without doing that?” I never had to interview anyone when I was writing alone in my room. I spent the first several weeks of that class seeking out articles that I could write without talking to anyone else.

I have never loved being a part of things that push me out of my comfort zone, but there was something about being a part of the Etched in Stone staff that made me want to stay.  Even as a sophomore, when so much of day-to-day life was a question of whether or not learning would happen in the school building or at home, I was struck by how connected the Etched in Stone staff was. I loved being a part of something that felt so safe and genuine.

Throughout my time as a high school student, the journalism room has been my homebase. The most valuable life lessons that I carry daily are things I learned in N123.

By nature, I am a perfectionist. I tend to take constructive criticism as a sign of failure. I feel that people telling me I have made a mistake is a sign of confrontation, and I have always hated confrontation.

But I learned in the newsroom that it is possible to be proud of the work I do and still accept that there is room for improvement. I learned that criticism is a sign of potential, and that confrontation is the way we improve. Even the articles that I am the most proud of have things I would change, but that does not change the fact that I am proud to have written them.

As I step into the role of Co Editor in Chief I feel a wide range of emotions. I am thrilled to step into a role that I have watched other editors thrive in. I am also terrified of being the exception, the editor that people think of as an example of what not to do. I do not want to be the editor who failed.

There is a lot of responsibility that comes with being a leader, and I was unsure of whether I am the best person to take on that responsibility. I have always been shy and I have always avoided confrontation. 

Reflecting on my years in journalism, however, has changed my mindset. 

I thought I would not make a good leader because I am too shy. But I learned in the newsroom how to push myself to talk to people, and I am not as shy as I was three years ago. By learning how to interview, I learned how to speak to people. Asking questions does not just apply to journalism; it applies to life. 

I thought I could not be a good leader because I hate confrontation. But it was in the journalism room that I realized confrontation is one of the most valuable tools in life.  It is impossible to improve without it.

Not only am I walking into the role of Co Editor in Chief with all the necessary tools to succeed, but I am walking side by side with Lizzy Camp. The newsroom would not have been the place that it was for me without Lizzy there with me everyday.

I walked into my first day of Journalism 1 and sat next to Lizzy, and I have been honored to sit next to her everyday of Journalism since. I cannot say that I would have made such an effort to get better at interviewing if it did not involve the promise of being a journalist with one of my closest friends.

As our first day leading the Etched in Stone staff approached, Lizzy and I were both experiencing a lot of anxiety about doing the best job we could. But underneath that anxiety, I felt a great deal of excitement, because even though it was scary, it was also incredible to realize that we had made it to this point.

We have hoped to be Co Editors in Chief together since our first year writing for Etched in Stone, and it is an incredible feeling to know that we are getting to fulfill that dream. 

To know that the little girl who wanted nothing more than to write something meaningful, the little girl who dug up old notebooks and forced her parents to read a fake newspaper filled with information they already knew, the little girl who was terrified to talk to other people, is getting to be an editor with one of her best friends. That is an accomplishment I will never cease to be proud of. Being a part of Etched in Stone has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, and it is my ultimate goal to make sure that writers who come through this program get to experience that feeling as well.

Despite all of the anxiety Lizzy and I have faced when it comes to leading the newsroom, I am so excited for both of us to face this challenge together. I have faith that we will make an incredible team, and I would not want anyone else by my side to take this risk with.