The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR: Almost closing time

Reflecting on my time as Editor-in-Chief and at Vanderbilt.
Barrie Barto
Editor-in-Chief Rachael Perrotta, as photographed on Oct. 8, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Barrie Barto)

Dear Vanderbilt,

When I began college, I thought I wanted to be a neuropsychological researcher. I joined a general training session for The Hustler on Zoom before my first year of college largely because I needed something to do during the quarantine summer of 2020 — plus, I always loved writing. It’s surreal to be drafting this article — my final letter as Editor-in-Chief of The Hustler — almost four years later.

Entering my time at 2301 Vanderbilt Place, I aimed to recognize the many faces of Vanderbilt past, present and future, but I never imagined that The Hustler would be my main avenue of doing so. Since arriving in Nashville, The Hustler has tied me to campus life in ways unusual to most students. I’ve had the privilege of meeting and developing relationships with administrators who make Vanderbilt work — people who many Vanderbilt students don’t know of. I’ve also had the opportunity to collaborate with student leaders across campus, many of whom are involved in different organizations and academic programs than me. Beyond Vanderbilt, I’ve had the chance to ideate with student journalists across the country about the best way to disseminate information to others and how to report on complicated topics. I’m grateful to have been offered a peak behind the curtain during my time here. These connections I’ve made along the way, particularly as Editor-in-Chief, have highlighted my college experience. 

While Editor-in-Chief, I managed the coverage of a host of topics, amounting to 1,743 articles — almost all of which I had a hand in. I’m particularly proud of The Hustler’s robust reporting on the Covenant School shooting and the Tennessee Three, which occupied the reporting and minds of our reporters for weeks. To cover this tragedy and the subsequent political happenings, we traveled to the Tennessee State House, Fisk University and Public Square Park, reporting on-site for hours. We also covered attacks on VUMC’s transgender clinic, the conflict in the Middle East, the Russia-Ukraine War, the COVID-19 pandemic, lawsuits, campus sexual assault, admissions and more. We visited venues across the city for 141 concerts, reviewing the likes of Taylor Swift, Noah Kahan and John Mayer, as well as the stars of tomorrow. We completely redesigned our website, social media and brand to connect more with our storied past and professionalism. Our multimedia coverage soared, with new Data and Podcasts sections, the beginnings of video coverage and more developed Photography, Social Media and Graphics sections. Our Life section expanded its coverage to include many guides to campus life and Nashville; our News section became more in tune with greater Nashville; our Opinion and Editorials teams multiplied their content and guest pieces; and our Sports section launched a post-game recap video series. Our hard work paid off, as The Hustler was awarded 28 national journalism awards this fall, including National Best Web Sports Section for the second year in a row

Beyond growing as a journalist and a writer, learning from my peers within The Hustler and across Vanderbilt’s campus has taught me valuable lessons about being a leader. I’ve seen people come together in times of pain and celebration. I’ve watched editors masterfully grow their sections in size and content, retain writers year after year and develop creative strategies to lead them. I’ve reported on and edited articles about leadership structure, crisis management and event planning in various student organizations and departments at Vanderbilt. The skills I’ve learned at The Hustler go further than my ability to write a breaking news story in 15 minutes while simultaneously taking notes in class. It’s more than AP Style being ingrained in me to the point where I’ve caught myself omitting Oxford commas in my academic papers. It’s not just about knowing who to contact, how to structure an involved article or how to carefully word a phrase. My time with The Hustler — and at Vanderbilt — has been defined by consistency and learning to work with, represent and empathize with those around me. The Hustler and you, reader and fellow Vanderbilt community member, have shaped me as a leader, student and person.  

Although my time as Editor-in-Chief has come to a close, I’m very excited to be sticking around for one more semester as Senior Advisor of The Hustler. As I mentioned, one of my favorite parts of being Editor-in-Chief was mentoring other editors and staffers. My new role will allow me to heighten those connections and assist with editor turnover before I graduate in May. I want to ensure that all staffers, editors and aspiring editors have the resources and support they need to succeed for years to come. I’m also looking forward to having a bit more time to explore some long-form journalism projects in my last few months on campus. 

One of my favorite articles to write each year is about admissions — the enthusiasm of recently admitted students is contagious, and I always find myself drafting the piece nostalgically, thinking about when I, too, was consumed with anticipation of my college years. I’m grateful to The Hustler and the people who compose it for being a significant factor in my college experience exceeding my hopes. I aspire to bookend my time in Nashville and with The Hustler on May 12, 2024, with the same excitement, energy and small pang of fear of the unknown that I had when I arrived on Aug. 19, 2020. Thank you for joining me along the way.

As always, anchor down,


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About the Contributors
Rachael Perrotta
Rachael Perrotta, Former Editor-in-Chief
Rachael Perrotta ('24) is from Cranston, R.I., and majored in cognitive studies, political science and communication of science and technology and minored in gender and sexuality studies in Peabody College. She was also previously Senior Advisor and News Editor. If she's not pressing you for a comment, she's probably trying to convince you that she's over 5 feet tall, cheering on the Red Sox or wishing Nashville had a beach. She can be reached at [email protected].
Barrie Barto
Barrie Barto, Editor-in-Chief
Barrie Barto ('25) is majoring in medicine, health & society with neuroscience and communication of science & technology minors in the College of Arts and Science. She previously served as Photography Director. When she's not strolling around campus with her camera, you can find Barrie cheering on the St. Louis Blues or tracking down the best gluten-free food in Nashville. She can be reached at [email protected].
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