I’m sure I’m far from alone when I say I never envisioned my last semester of college wrapping up this way. Despite never being able to properly say goodbye to my professors in person or have an in-person commencement ceremony, I’m grateful that I was able to finish my time at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette publishing content with my wonderful staff at The Vermilion.

The 2019-2020 Vermilion staff upgraded the student newspaper in major ways. From a complete print and web redesign to increasing student-centered content, The Vermilion went through a refreshing metamorphosis over the course of a few months. Everyone put their heads together and pitched ideas on how to improve our publication, whether they be writers, editors, graphic designers or photographers.

In the fall, among many other issues, we put out a special issue on the environment and a Halloween issue. I sent these to the Southeast Journalism Conference as entries for the Best College Newspaper category for the 2020 Best of the South student journalism competition. We placed second among universities from all over the southeastern United States — the highest The Vermilion placed in the overall college newspaper category since at least 2011.

These accomplishments would have never been realized without the help of my staff, who always showed their utmost support and worked hard for the paper.

To my managing editor, John Roman: I could never have asked for a better partner to work with this year. Your continuous support, attention to detail, hard work and intuition moved mountains for The Vermilion. Thank you for being at my side.

To my design editor, Cole Broussard: You are the secret weapon of the paper. Your talent and eye for graphics made us look our best this year. We couldn’t have put out five special issues in one academic year without your leadership, patience and precision.

To Morri Sampey, Maddy Myer, Brian Tran, Lachelle Smith and David Reed, who served as desk editors: Thank you for leading your sections and keeping up the quality of the paper. You each have such wonderful personalities that made my day during every meeting. Specifically, I would like to shoutout David, who placed first in the Best News Writer category in the 2020 Best of the South competition and wrote many of our lead news stories this academic year.

To Seth Savell, Ashley Marshall and Brianne Hendricks: Thank you for running the business side of The Vermilion and raising enough revenue to keep us printing!

To all of the 2019-2020 Vermilion staff: Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your help and hard work. I could not have asked for a better team.

Of course, I would also like to send gratitude toward the mentors of The Vermilion.

To Mr. Tarver, our advisor: Thank you for being there for us at the office every day and helping to handle the day-to-day issues that come with running a publication. Your help was instrumental to our success this year.

To Vice President for Student Affairs Patricia Cottonham: Thank you for always being a supporter of The Vermilion and lending a hand to the staff on numerous occasions.

To Ms. Beth: Thank you for answering our day-to-day questions and keeping our administrative needs met!

To Mr. Kevin Prejean: Thank you for being such a massive help with our redesign and spending many hours helping us in our office over the summer.

To Kailey Broussard: Thank you for your advice and support of The Vermilion years after your graduation date. Specifically, thank you for taking me under your wing when I first entered college and teaching me how to write news stories.

To Mr. Pat Bienvenu: Thank you for keeping our technology up and running at the paper. You are a wonderful resource to us.

Last but not least, to all of our readers and supporters out there: Thank you for continuing to support student journalism and giving motivation to generations of truth-seekers to continue their essential work for the function of our democracy.

Best Wishes,

Melissa Watson

2019-2020 Editor-in-Chief

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