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Letter from the Editor: Proudly there on Hilltop high  

Jasper Smith, The Hilltop’s editor-in-chief from the 2022 through the 2024 academic school year, poses in a graduation cap and gown holding the 2023 Freshman Edition of The Hilltop. (Photo courtesy of Jasper Smith)

During the first few weeks of my tenure as editor-in-chief, I would often come to The Hilltop’s office in between shifts at Street Sense Media and Ben’s Next Door, seeking an escape from the sweltering D.C. summer heat and my responsibilities as a new intern.

In my moments of respite in the office, I would carry the torso-sized blue editions of The Hilltop’s archives to my desk – flipping through pages of Howard history, transporting myself to whichever decade of my choosing. My fingers would trace over the pages, immersing myself into 100 years of student journalism. 

It was in these moments that I realized what I was inheriting. 

The Hilltop is not just a media organization, but a prized possession that is passed through the hands of students who seek to fulfill the university’s motto of truth and service. Or, maybe we’re all just a little too into student journalism.

To serve as the editor-in-chief of The Hilltop has been an honor as much as it has been a blessing. Through The Hilltop, I found a place on campus that poured into me as much as I poured into it. It was on The Hilltop that I learned to be a fearless reporter, a thoughtful editor and a well-rounded journalist. 

When I look back on my time at the paper, it will not just be the rich history of the publication or the tools I gained that I will remember fondly, but the relationships I forged with members of this dedicated staff. 

Through the good and the bad, this felt like a family – a place where we all grew together.

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From the adrenaline rush from skipping class to break a news story with JD and N’dia, to laughing from my belly as a group of 12 sleep deprived editors put together a print edition, or wincing at every email asking for a correction in an article – these moments as a student journalist are inseparable from my Howard experience. 

To the staff of talented reporters, photographers and cartoonists, I cannot thank you enough for trusting in my leadership and working tirelessly to contribute to this publication during such a historic year. I am so proud of what our staff has been able to accomplish. In the short time that we’ve been together, we have expanded our viewership to nearly 1 million people this school year, explored new ways of storytelling through audio and visuals, received multiple awards for our detailed coverage, and revitalized our presence on campus as a trusted source (and the best student publication). Thanks to you, the Howard community always had news to engage with. I look forward to seeing the amazing things that each of you accomplish at Howard and beyond. 

To my editors, thank you for choosing to be a part of something so much bigger than each of us. You sacrificed your weekends, Thirsty Thursdays and time spent studying to ensure that our newspaper could publish every Monday. In each of you, Zora Neale Hurston and Eugene King live on. While I thank you for your unwavering support and hard work, I also thank you for your companionship. I am the most fortunate editor in the world to have had such amazing people by my side. Cheers to a lifetime of friendship. 

To Mr. Alexander, thank you for believing in me before I believed in myself. You taught me that a true journalist never runs away from the things that challenge them, because that’s where the story is. Your support and guidance have helped me in more ways than you know, and I will forever be grateful to have you as a mentor. 

To Mrs. Jackson, thank you for always reminding me that I was a student first. On the days where the responsibilities of this position weighed heavily on me, your support and care helped me to keep going. 

Lastly, to N’dia Webb, thank you for being my best friend in all of this. My shotgun rider til the day I die! When we first joined The Hilltop, I don’t think either of us would have predicted the ways it would impact our lives and the friendship we would discover. You are a phenomenal friend and leader and your passion, intelligence and wisdom inspire those around you. Together, we led this paper with integrity into its centennial year, and left our mark on Howard University’s campus. While you may no longer be the managing editor to my editor-in-chief, you will always be my sister.  

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As my time as editor-in-chief comes to an end, I am thankful for it all – there aren’t enough newspapers in the world to find the words for my gratitude. Though I will not be able to escape to the office or get lost in the archives in between classes anymore, my time at The Hilltop is something I will hold dear to my heart forever, no matter where I go. 

In truth and service, 

Jasper Smith 

2022-2024 Hilltop Editor-in-Chief


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