Good Night, Sweet Prince

A farewell from our beloved Editor-in-Chief


Belinda Oldrati

Ken Allard poses on top of a stack of newspapers unexpectedly during the spring 2018 semester.

They say to save the best for last, don’t they?

And that’s what happened, albeit somewhat unintentionally. My last semester as a Vaquero at Glendale Community College exceeded my own expectations by a country mile, with my time at the El Vaquero newspaper playing a huge role in doing so.

I was brought on as editor-in-chief during the summer of 2017 to help sew together a newspaper and  journalism program that had slowly eroded into something that folks could no longer even recognize. Well, if they knew it existed in the first place.

Our old newsroom in the San Gabriel building only had visitors by mistake (usually looking for the computer lab). And the newspaper had a combined readership of about 24 people, quite a few of which were my parents, siblings, and close friends whom I forced to at least glance at the work we put in.

We did put in a lot of work, too, during that tumultuous fall 2017 semester of El Vaquero. A lot of production nights that stretched into the early morning hours of the next day ended up paying dividends. As most folks put it nowadays to us, “El Vaquero looks nothing like a community college-level paper,” they say.

While I played a role in the turn around, most of the credit goes to my mentor and adviser. Reut “Rory” Cohen, the young, hip, do-it-all professor-turned-newspaper adviser, was the perfect choice for the job. (Shout out to David Viar on that one).

She injected energy into a program that was left for dead. A program that struggled to find any students at all now has half-a-dozen students consistently finding themselves waitlisted. A student newspaper that struggled to find enough students to fill eight pages of content now has a self-replenishing funnel-system of students cycling through journalism 102 and into the program.

While top-down leadership is required to get anything moving, a well-oiled machine only works as well as its component parts, and that’s where my classmates came into play. Fall semester was rough; myself and managing editor Marian Sahakyan, and the occasional masochistic student, would have to shoulder the burden to churn out a campus newspaper on-time.

So we did what we had to do. This semester, the usual burden has been dispersed across the entire program. Recruiting efforts headed by Cohen – abetted by some wicked-good Ratemyprofessor scores – nailed us an El Vaquero staff roster that may be the school’s best ever.

Every single student that is a part of the newspaper does their role and does it well. The delegating of responsibilities that were previously placed on my shoulders alone has oftentimes left me feeling like I have no responsibilities, and that’s how it should be, to an extent.

A well-functioning newsroom is a team effort; and having students feel that they play a critical role in creating something for the good of the campus teaches lessons and instills confidence that goes beyond the halls of Glendale College.

GCC will always hold a special place in my heart. On the surface, it is just your above-average community college, and that’s how I treated it early on.

I would come to class, put in the least amount of effort required to get an above-passing grade, and commute home. I didn’t give a second thought to establishing relationships, challenging myself, or adding skills through extracurriculars that would serve me well later in life.

But despite not being a university that can provide the “university experience” that we college-aged kids crave, GCC is truly what you make of it.

And that’s a lesson that I learned too late. I heard the common advice, but ignored it. Spend time on campus; join clubs and immerse yourself with the school environment; provide a service to the school; talk with your professors on a more personal level; try and be a student-athlete.

That’s all stuff I knew I should have done, but hadn’t. Until this semester.

I joined track and field after a roughly 10-year hiatus of sanctioned competitive athletics, and it was some of the most fun I’ve had in years. Shout out to my teammates, some of the funniest individuals on the planet.

I stuck with the El Vaquero program and took part in on-campus events and clubs. I made lasting friendships with some great individuals – something I didn’t give a thought to early on at Glendale. “I’ll make real friendships once I transfer,” I thought. Oh, the naiveté.

The semester didn’t come without excessive stress, though. I took on 17 units, working part-time, doing track and field as a student-athlete, figuring out my transfer situation, all while trying to balance a social life that included a few too many weekend-long indulgences.

The stress, which I thought I was managing well (hint: I wasn’t), adversely affected my duty with El Vaquero, and I left them hanging a few times.

If my El Vaquero mates staged a coup of the newspaper leadership (i.e., myself) and charged me with abandoning my post and dereliction of duty, well, that would have been a fair judgement.

Thankfully, the locks to my office were never changed and they kept me on as captain. It must be my sense of humor and exquisite taste in coffee.

For me, Glendale Community College was exactly what I needed. I dropped out of high school late in my senior year and had no sense of academic drive or professional direction. GCC served as the perfect incubator for my maturity, or lack thereof, and I have many, many people to thank for my transition.

While I love the school, I’m ready to leave. Next stop, San Luis Obispo, Calif., where I’ll be a Cal Poly Mustang for the fall of 2018.

Good luck and best wishes to the future staff and the incoming El Vaquero editor-in-chief, Marian Sahakyan.

Once a Vaq, always a Vaq.


Ken Allard can be reached at [email protected]