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Congratulations to the staff of the 2012 Petit Jean for a job well done. The tradition of excellence continues. Special kudos go to Ashel Parsons and her staff of photographers for capturing the year’s events with some great images.

In previous posts on this blog my colleagues in the Public Relations Office have recounted their experiences on Petit Jean staffs. Unfortunately I can’t share my experiences with the yearbook because my student publications lineage comes from the Bison student newspaper. My only experience with the Petit Jean came in sharing a darkroom with their photographers back in the Dark Ages, a.k.a. the late 60s.

My colleagues often remind me that they were a part of THE Harding student publication. To which I remind them that they produced only one publication, while their Bison counterparts produced a publication almost every week of the school year. The friendly rivalry will continue in the office between alumni of the two publications. I have only myself to blame for my minority status in the office. I hired all of those yearbook folks. You can bet my next employee will have Bison roots.

While I’m talking about the Bison, I would be remiss if I did not also congratulate John Mark Adkison, editor of the 2011-2012 Bison, and his staff for an exceptional job in reporting the news of the campus. He, too, continued the tradition of excellence in Harding student publications.

Whether we have Petit Jean or Bison lineage, we all share in the great experiences of student publications that have been so much a part of the Harding scene for more than eight decades. There is a special bond that we all share — unbelievably long nights meeting deadlines.

David Crouch, director of public relations

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When I started working in Public Relations here, one of my first interviews for the magazine was with Tamera Alexander, a Christian historical fiction writer who has won several awards for her novels. I asked her how she got to that point in her career, and her answer has stuck with me ever since.

She said, “God never wastes an experience.” As she applied that to her own career, I realized it was true for my own and my time with student publications and the Petit Jean.

In school, I was an English major earning my teaching licensure and always secretly hoping that one day I’d be a writer.

Lucky for me and my love for writing, my roommate and dear friend happened to be on the Petit Jean staff and was going to be the assistant editor for the 2007-08 book. She came to me saying they were in the market for a copy editor and asked if I’d be interested in doing it.

Grammar? Writing? Pointing out the flaws of others? Yes, please!

Plus, I was getting married in a few months, and any money or job was greatly appreciated.

Working for the Petit Jean was great. I loved working with the yearbook staff and the writers. I loved cleaning up others’ writing to make a better product. And although it was frustrating to find that someone had failed to cover a story, I loved taking an assignment and writing it myself.

One morning, while sitting with my then-fiancé, now husband, in the library, I looked up from the stories I was editing and told him that I would love to do this job forever as my real life job. How nice would that be? He told me that I wasn’t allowed to be wishy-washy on my job because he already had that position.

Fast forward to graduation day. I’m standing there, cap and gown, and everyone in my line is discussing their grand life plan. This guy was moving to inner-city Detroit to teach English, another going to China for the same reason. She was going to grad school; they had a big job lined up at wherever and on and on it went.

I was going to be an unemployed townie.

My husband and I were staying in Searcy. He had a job lined up and grad school forms filled out, and I had nothing. It was a little depressing.

I was two months into unemployment and “Jon and Kate Plus Eight” marathons when I received the greatest Facebook message ever: the news director from Public Relations said there was a job opening for a publications writer in her office and would I be interested in applying and interviewing for it.

A week later I was hired.

And here I am, four years later.

I look back and realize how none of it, really, was my own doing, but God shaping and preparing me for that very moment, blessing me with the job I’ve always wanted. While it’s not a big name like Time or People or whatever, I get to write about what I love — the university with whom I’ve been throughout my adulthood.

And I have the Petit Jean to thank for helping me get here — one of those experiences that God didn’t let go to waste.

Jennifer Hannigan, copy editor/writer, Petit Jean copy editor 2007-08

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