Senior Send-Off 2024: Hannah Hadley

Published: Last Updated on

In third grade, a few of my friends and I had the genius idea of producing and distributing our very own newspaper to the class—lovingly titled “The Maper.” Although “The Maper” did not last more than a couple issues (we were only nine years old), something about the experience never escaped my brain. 

Fast-forward to my middle school years, that little kindling of interest in journalism reignited when my older brother Robbie was in college. And Robbie was not just in college—he was the business manager for the University of Indianapolis’s very own student-produced newspaper, The Reflector. When he came back home to visit, he would tell me how fun the “Applied Journalism” class was, and how he loved working with Professor Jeanne Criswell and making friends on the newspaper staff. Robbie encouraged me to think about going to UIndy one day and joining the staff of The Reflector, knowing I enjoyed writing and being creative.

Next, let us fast-forward to my high school years. I quickly got involved with the TV and journalism programs at Rushville Consolidated High School, as they seemed like fun, different classes to take (shout-out to Mrs. Jobe, Mrs. Sparks and Mr. Schindel). I found that I loved anchoring and writing for our news show — “Lions Live” — and that I was good at it. However, after four years of TV and one year of newspaper, I still did not fully realize I could make these passions into a career. I was not exactly sure where my love of media fit in.

Now, Robbie is not the only person I can thank for convincing me to joinThe Reflector—I have to give credit to the person who actually roped me in: Kassandra (Kassi) Darnell. (Yes, I am clicking the fast forward button yet again.) Kassi roped me in at the end of my sophomore year at UIndy, when I was still a political science major and had just recently added communication studies into the mix. During our shared “Intercultural Communication” class, Kassi and I quickly became friends. And being the then editor-in-chief of the paper and in need of editors for the upcoming school year, she recruited me as part of her team. It was the best decision I have ever made in college.

Fast-forwarding (yeah, yeah, again) to now, I have been part of The Reflector’s editorial team as a communication major with a track in public relations for two years. I served as the news editor during the 2022-2023 school year and now serve as the opinion editor for the 2024-2025 school year. Even though everyone thinks I am a journalism major, I am, in fact, a “PR girl” who happens to love working with a team of impassioned people in a newsroom. I reignited the passions I had discovered in high school and discovered working in PR and writing opinionated content were my very favorite things to do. 

Moving on, I still apply my passion for political science to my education, even though it is not my major anymore, finding I actually enjoy the advocacy for democracy more than the facilitation of it. This connects to my proudest accomplishment coming from The Reflector, which was pushing to reinstate a traditional student government at UIndy through an opinion article (which has won a state and national award). That article fed into discourse on campus, which eventually led to the formation of the Student Government Association four months after its publication. This experience exemplifies my belief that journalists are public servants, and that being a public servant is one of the most rewarding things someone can do. And, now as a PR practitioner, I want to play a part of this democratic process by being a trusted source for my fellow communication professionals. 

Now, it is time for my acknowledgements. I would like to thank Kassi, Olivia Cameron and Hallie Gallinat for being the fantastic mentors I needed during my first year as a journalist. Next, I would like to thank Mia Lehmkuhl and Olivia Pastrick for being excellent bosses and managers this year. Additionally, I extend my thanks to Hannah Biedess, Breanna Emmett, Michael Harrington, Brid Peoples, Allison Cook, Caroline Krauch, Elyssa Merrill, Anika Yoder and Arrianna Gupton for being the special friends I found along the way.

My final thank you goes to Professor Jeanne Criswell: Thank you for your years of dedication to The Reflector and to young journalists at UIndy. Your impact on my brother and me is significant, and it has made us better people and better writers. Reflector alumni from across Indiana, across the United States and across the world have been influenced by your guidance. I speak for all of us when I say I hope you have a wonderful retirement, where you can relax knowing you have helped thousands of “diehard journalists” have lifelong memories and skills garnered from The Reflector.The Reflector has changed me for the better. I found my community, passions, and myself here. And to those considering taking COMM 120: do it. Join The Reflector and you will find more than just a newspaper.

Recommended for You