Senior Feature: The Hilltop Monitor

With the 2020-21 academic year coming to a close, The Hilltop Monitor honors its senior staff members, who each have taken time to reflect upon their experience at William Jewell College and share their plans for the future. During their time at Jewell, these staff members have all contributed their time and talents to make the Hilltop Monitor successful.

Christina Kirk, Oxbridge institutions and policy and international relations major, served as the Editor-in-Chief for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 academic years. After graduation, she plans to work in a clinical setting before taking the MCAT and applying to medical school. Kirk said she is grateful for the opportunities to authentically engage with the Jewell community.

Christina Kirk, 2020-21 Editor-in-Chief.

“I will miss a lot of little things like coming to the PLC early in the morning on a cold winter day, grabbing a latte from the Beak and working on homework for a few quiet hours,” Kirk said. “I will deeply miss people like Kiki, Dr. Wilkins and Dr. Lisenby – brilliant individuals who are inconceivably caring and friendly and always make an effort to check in with students.” 

Kirk began writing for the Monitor in fall 2017 with an urgent news story about the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. As an exceptional writer and leader, Kirk helped to uphold The Hilltop Monitor’s prestigious local reputation during both her years as Editor-in-Chief. In April, for the third year in a row, The Hilltop Monitor won first place in the Missouri College Media Association (MCMA) Sweepstakes category for its competing division, winning 21 individual awards along the way. During her time as a writer and editor, she authored 74 stories

Kirk won first place in Investigative Reporting at the 2021 MCMA competition with her article “Jewell uses Intercultural Development Inventory to assess cultural competence;” first place in the Sports Column category with her article “Opinion: Enough with the looks-policing in women’s sports;” and second place in the Information Graphic category with her graphic “Intentions for Re-Opening: National Statistics.”

Kirk said she enjoyed seeing new writers develop their journalistic styles and interests over the years.

“The Monitor is not only a great creative outlet for students, but it is also indispensable to the ‘critical thinking’ core of Jewell as an institution because it allows students to critically evaluate and question how well the College serves its community,” Kirk said.

Catherine Dema, Oxbridge history of ideas and physics major, served as the 2020-21 Features and Investigations Editor. She will be attending the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School next year to pursue public interest law. Dema is grateful for the friends and professors who have supported her during her time at Jewell. She stated that The Hilltop Monitor provided her with many opportunities. 

Catherine Dema, 2020-21 Features and Investigations Editor. Photo courtesy of Dema.

Dema began writing for The Hilltop Monitor in fall 2017 with an opinion piece about the politicization of science. True to her inquisitive nature, Dema never hesitated to dive deep and provide the community with stories that mattered, be it timely updates on Jewell’s COVID-19 response or an objective examination of diversity at Jewell. She wrote 88 stories.

“Hilltop has served as a constant throughout my time at Jewell and it’s helped me develop friendships I wouldn’t otherwise have,” Dema said. “Also, the Monitor has let me dig into the problems, events and news that I’m passionate and curious about at Jewell.”

Dema won an honorable mention spot in In-Depth News Reporting at the 2021 MCMA competition for her article “Jewell overhauls orientation mentor program in radical inclusivity efforts, COVID-19 response;” second place in Investigative Writing for her article “Jewell cuts 2021-2022 tuition by 45% to increase price transparency,” which was co-authored by Kirk; and honorable mention for Feature Writing for her article “Students and alumni attend local protests in opposition to racism and police brutality,” also co-authored by Kirk.

Hannah Koehler, psychological sciences and English major, served as the 2020-21 Arts and Culture Editor. She plans to work in the nonprofit sector before attending graduate school for psychology. Her favorite part of college was the support system she built. 

Hannah Koehler, 2020-21 Arts and Culture Editor.

Koehler began writing in fall 2017 with a lifestyle piece criticizing small talk and, with an impressive eye for photography, supplied the Monitor with stunning photo features ever since. In total, she wrote 53 articles, ultimately gifting many of them with unforgettable snapshots into the beauty of all things arts and culture.

“From writing about picnics to Jewell’s historical ties to slavery, the Monitor has allowed me to write about things that matter to me without having a grade attached to it,” Koehler said. 

Savannah Hawley, Oxbridge literature and theory and French major, served as both the 2020-21 Managing Editor and Chief Copy Editor for the Monitor. Hawley plans to work in journalism after graduation and said her favorite thing about Jewell is the connections she made.

Savannah Hawley, 2020-21 Managing Editor and Chief Copy Editor.

“The relationships I have with my professors and the lifelong friendships I’ve made here were worth every second,” Hawley said.

Hawley began writing for The Hilltop Monitor in fall 2017 with a story about Jewell students fostering animals from local shelter KC Pet Project. As a walking aesthetic, a connoisseur of Kansas City’s culinary arts and an intellectual, she wrote a total of 58 stories, featuring anything from reviews about local vegan cafes to collaborating on investigative pieces about Jewell’s historical ties to slavery.

She said she enjoyed the articles she wrote and will miss the tight-knit team. 

“My favorite memory from the Monitor would probably be going around Kansas City [my] first-year to review coffee shops with Hannah [Koehler] and Catherine [Dema],” Hawley said. “It was so fun to spend time with them while working on an article.”

Hawley won first place in Sports Writing at the 2021 MCMA competition with her article “Recap of the Current Athletic Season,” and third place in the website design category alongside Kirk.

Madison Carroll Porth, Oxbridge institutions and policy major, will be attending Vanderbilt Law School next year. She said she cherished her time at Jewell and is grateful for the lasting friendships she has made the past four years. 

Madison Carroll Porth, 2020-21 staff writer. Photo courtesy of Carroll Porth.

Carroll Porth began writing in fall 2017 with a news article about criticism surrounding former president Donald Trump’s response to a fallen U.S. soldier. Carroll Porth authored 49 articles on a remarkably comprehensive range of topics, frequently reporting on hard-hitting issues like gender inequality in sports one week and publishing Buzzfeed-like quizzes the next.

“I enjoy writing stories and getting to have a creative outlet when I’m bogged down with school,” Carroll said. “My favorite memory was writing the story about the Jewell 2017 lawsuit with Christina [Kirk] and Sofia [Arthurs-Schoppe]. It is also my most stressful monitor memory.”

Minnie Goodbody, digital media and communications major, plans to pursue a career in audio/visual editing or social media marketing. She said her college experience was challenging due to the pandemic but she will miss Jewell greatly. Goodbody’s favorite part of her college experience was the lifelong friends and mentors she met. 

Minnie Goodbody, 2020-21 staff writer. Photo courtesy of Goodbody.

Goodbody began writing for the Monitor in winter 2020 with an advice piece about how to start off a new year stress-free. She wrote 14 stories, enriching the Monitor with posts about anything from conspiracy theories to senior features to infographics.

Goodbody won first place in the Nonpolitical/Entertainment Cartoon category at the 2021 MCMA competition with her piece “Cartoon: 2020’s New College Reality.”

“I will miss working on such an inviting and inclusive team of creatives,” Goodbody said. “My favorite memory has to be writing about the Rat King.”

Junior members of the Oxbridge Honors Program will also be bidding The Hilltop Monitor farewell: Michaela Esau, Oxbridge literature and theory and communications major, and Kyler Schardein, Oxbridge institutions and policy and international relations major.

Esau will be studying literature abroad her senior year at the University of Oxford. She describes her Jewell experience as a time of personal growth. She said her favorite part about the college experience was living on campus with friends.

Michaela Esau, 2020-21 staff writer. Photo courtesy of Esau.

Esau began writing for the Monitor in fall 2018 with an Arts and Culture story highlighting Jewell students’ international summer plans and authored the much-needed college advice series “Call Your Mother.” She never failed to provide the community with both trendy lifestyle pieces and impactful news stories, writing a total of 62 articles during her time on staff.

“I’m going to miss the people on The Hilltop Monitor,” Esau said. “It’s truly an incredible community and I’ve been so lucky to get to write with an amazing staff. My favorite memory would be writing my April Fool’s Edition story about editorial staff’s various issues with dining services.”

Esau won first place in Editorial Writing at the 2021 MCMA competition with her article “The impact of community on learning,” and third place in the Column category with “How to be good when the world is bad.”

Schardein served as the 2020-21 Perspectives editor. He will be studying abroad next year at Mansfield College at the University of Oxford. Schardein said he is grateful for the friendships he has made, as well as the different perspectives and processes of thought he has been exposed to during his time at Jewell. 

Kyler Schardein, 2020-21 Perspectives Editor. Photo courtesy of Schardein.

Schardein said he will miss the Hilltop community and has fond memories of his time working with the Monitor. He began his journey with the Monitor in fall 2018 with an opinion piece on the impact of former President Donald Trump’s trade policies, and he overall utilized his interest and natural talent in policy- and news-writing to deliver 44 imperative and thought-provoking articles to the local community.

Schardein won second place in News Writing at the 2021 MCMA competition with his article “The Movement to Remove a Confederate Soldier Statue from Liberty.”

“My favorite Hilltop memory is also my first one,” Schardein said. “At the first-year organizations fair, the older students working the Hilltop counter were so friendly, enthusiastic, and kind, and as a shy and partly overwhelmed first-year, that struck me and helped inform my decision to initially join the staff.”

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