By Laci Sutton / Staff writer

For many students, their time in college provides them with a general, basic knowledge to prepare them for a future in their chosen career. Some students even make their way out of the classroom as they get more in-depth experience under the direct guidance of a professional in the field.

For Hutchinson Community College alumna and current Emporia State University student Sam Bailey, the lessons being taught at a desk quickly came to life as she found herself consumed with real-world experience as a student journalist for The Bulletin, the student newspaper at Emporia State.

Bailey chose journalism as a major at HutchCC before her freshman year and soon fell in love with the career. In 2020-2021, Bailey was The Collegian’s Editor in Chief.

“I knew journalism was what I was meant to do when I realized that the long days everyone hated were my favorite,” Bailey said. “I was perfectly happy spending long hours in the newsroom during the stressful days full of problem solving and hard work.”

Following her time at HutchCC, Bailey continued to pursue studying journalism at ESU. A place that initially felt like a safe space to step into her future, now a major milestone that has impacted far more than her education. 

One of the most important jobs for journalists is to get the information to their audiences as quickly as possible. Bailey, alongside Bulletin editor-in-chief Cameron Burnett, did just that as they sat outside Earl Carl Center for hours on Sept. 15, 2022, keeping a running count of departments and professors being fired without warning.

“The devastation and panic on their faces changed my reality in one moment,” Bailey said.

“It was a long day of balancing being as humane as possible to those who lost their jobs and also trying to get the word out about what was happening to them.”

In addition to updating locals about the Hornet 33 (a term used for the 33 individuals fired from ESU), Bailey continued to put out story after story The Bulletin throughout the semester.

The stories brought a variety of feedback from the community and professors around campus.

“For the most part, a lot of people seem to appreciate what I have done this year,” Bailey said. “I have gotten negative feedback on my work, from phone calls telling me how I should have written a lede to comments being made insulting my integrity and work, but I don’t dwell on them too much.”

Aside from facing exhaustion and burnout, Bailey has never regretted anything she has written and continues to push through to pursue journalism.

Her hardwork and dedication were honored at this year’s Kansas Collegiate Media Conference and Convention, as Bailey was presented with Journalist of the Year among four-year colleges in Kansas. Bailey was also the KCM two-year college journalist of the year in 2021.

While the recognition is appreciated, Bailey is more grateful knowing her articles have reached audiences and informed others of what is going on at ESU.

“Journalism is my way of having an impact on the world,” Bailey said. “No matter what I am covering, I am affecting someone, whether by telling their story, holding them accountable or some other form of reporting.”

The last few years have brought heartache and struggle, but Bailey remains strong and has gained more confidence than she had before.

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