By Catherine O’Grady
Amidst the chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Tower elected Jessica Fetrow to serve as the 127th editor in chief for the upcoming academic year. The voting was conducted online and sent to the 40 staff members.
Fetrow, a rising senior media and communication studies major with a minor in writing and rhetoric, joined The Tower as a sophomore in the role of copy editor before being promoted to health and lifestyle editor for the 2019 spring and fall semesters. During this past semester, the Morristown, NJ native served as politics editor before deciding to pursue the role of editor in chief.
“The Tower has been such an important part of my time at Catholic, and the staff is like another family to me,” said Fetrow in a letter to The Tower staff. “No matter what I’ve gone through, I’ve always felt that my problems went away as soon as I walked through the office door.”
Outside of The Tower, Fetrow founded the HerCampus chapter at Catholic this past fall and served as president and campus correspondent for the organization, which is an online publication for aspiring college-aged women journalists. She is also a member of Operation Smile and a server at Murphy’s Grill.
Past editors are looking forward to seeing the paper’s growth during Fetrow’s term.
“I have worked with Jess for a few years now and have seen her passion, initiative, and dedication to this organization grow with each meeting and editing night,” said Emily Prendergast, a graduating senior who served as editor in chief for the spring and fall 2019 semesters. “She has the leadership and organizational skills to help The Tower grow even more. I cannot wait to see what she will do as editor and all the great things that the organization as a whole will achieve next year.”
Katie Ward, editor in chief for the 2020 spring semester, spoke on Fetrow’s past accomplishments and future success in her new role.
“Jess has done incredible things with each position she’s held with The Tower – she built from the ground up the health & lifestyle and politics sections,” Ward said. “Every writer and editor who has worked with her can see that she is a personable and warm leader and an excellent communicator, and she always comes up with new ways for The Tower to reach students.”
This past semester, under the leadership of Ward, The Tower increased visibility and presence on and off campus by tripling its newsletter audience and continued publishing weekly additions after Catholic University shut down for the pandemic.
With The Tower’s growing momentum, Fetrow has taken this opportunity to implement some of her own improvements. Some of Fetrow’s plans involve solidifying the internal management of The Tower, including the addition of office hours for the benefit of writers and an emphasis on fundraising.
Rising junior Noelia Veras, the previous arts and entertainment editor, will serve as managing editor to lead the paper with Fetrow. The two have begun updating The Tower website to make it more accessible for readers as well as growing The Tower’s presence on social media. Veras intends to focus on the long-term goals of the paper.
“I’m looking forward to working more behind the scenes with The Tower and working collaboratively with Jess, all of the editors, and the staff,” Veras said. “I am particularly excited to redesign and update the website and to increase The Tower’s outreach by organizing more campaigns and fundraisers around campus.”
The editorial board will see mostly returning faces to new roles. After a semester abroad, junior Catherine O’Grady will return to her fall 2019 role as news editor, replacing graduating Prendergast. Ward will serve as business manager, replacing junior Garrett Farrell who will be taking over the sports section from graduating Jared Prenda. Several staff writers will serve on the board for the first time this upcoming year: junior Jeremy Perillo as politics editor, senior Katie Van Lew as arts and entertainment editor, and junior Eva lynch as copy editor. Sophomore Renee Rasmussen, who served as a copy editor the past semester, will take over the Quill section, for which junior Kat Kaderabek will take up a weekly health & lifestyle column. Juniors Theresa Whitfield and Bella Ramon will be returning to their respective roles as copy editor and social media manager.