A season of change

Published 5:45 pm Tuesday, February 15, 2022

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In late summer, 15 and a half years ago, I walked into the Suffolk News-Herald’s building on South Saratoga Street for a job interview. The editor at the time, Douglas Grant, took a leap of faith on a very recent Longwood University graduate with a small collection of clips from the college newspaper. He told me I needed to talk to the publisher before I was hired, and the publisher would ask two questions. The answer to one had to be yes, and the answer to the other had to be no.

The two questions: “Can you type? And have you ever been convicted of a felony?”

Needless to say, I managed to answer the questions correctly. I started in late August or early September, working an odd assortment of hours to add up to full-time while at the same time taking a heavy load of classes for my master’s degree at Old Dominion University, which I completed in three semesters. At first, I did only page layout for the paper. That only lasted about a week before I got my first story assignment — a report on the upcoming flu season.

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From there, the stories kept coming and never stopped. I did almost every sort of story imaginable and covered just about any topic of concern in Suffolk. But most of all, my job was about telling the stories of people. So many amazing people in Suffolk welcomed me into a slice of their life and shared their hearts, their dreams and their experiences with me. For that, I am eternally grateful.

Way back in 2010, my editor at the time, Res Spears, had enough faith in me to promote me to news editor, which allowed me to continue writing stories while also learning about and contributing to newsroom management. His leadership had a profound effect on my professional and personal life, and for that, too, I am eternally grateful.

When Res left in late 2017 to pursue a new career in the ministry, I was blessed to be promoted to editor of the Suffolk News-Herald. And in spring 2020, just as the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic had thrown us all into what came to be known as “unprecedented times,” I accepted a promotion to regional editor, which placed me in the editor’s chair not only for the Suffolk News-Herald but also for The Smithfield Times, The Tidewater News and Windsor Weekly, building a regional reporting team from a handful of previously distinct newsrooms.

Easily the best part of my journalism career was meeting my husband. Troy Cooper came to work at the Suffolk News-Herald in late 2007 as our first full-time graphic designer, and by the end of May 2008, we were dating. It wasn’t long until we had fallen in love, and in February 2015, we had a beautiful wedding on a snowy Saturday, after which everyone else on our staff had to rush back to the office to finish Sunday’s paper.

Indeed, it has been an incredible career in journalism for me. However, there comes a season for change in everyone’s life, and for me, that season is now. I am embarking on a new career as a copyeditor for a marketing agency, and this week will be my last with the paper.

If I filled this entire edition, I could never adequately thank the thousands and thousands of people who helped me in some way throughout the course of my career. As such, I will make no attempt to even begin such a list. Some of them picked up the phone when I called hundreds of times in the last 15 years. Some I met only in a brief moment, when I took their photo or got a quote from them about an event I was covering, and that was that. However, every single person I met during this career, and the city in which we all live, has come to be a treasure in my heart.

There’s also no way to adequately encompass every memory, every emotion and every moment that has defined the last 15.5 years for me in this short space, so I’ll not try to do that, either. I am filled with lots of different emotions during this season of my life, but gratefulness tops them all. I am extraordinarily grateful to have had the opportunity to learn so much, meet so many amazing people, and stay consistently employed in a difficult industry for so long. So I will leave on this simple note:

Thank you.