Farewell from our graduating staff: Heather Barker


Huntington has been my home for my entire life. I was born here, grew up here and went to college here. But I did not develop a deep love for the city until I was a student at Marshall. Like most teenagers, I wanted to leave my hometown for college and be my own person, but Marshall was the school that offered me enough financial aid, and I started my freshman year off with a bad attitude. 

Freshman year was rough because I struggled finding friends and being social because all I wanted to do was go to class and go home. I think this is a common problem for many freshmen who commute, especially when it is over 20 minutes each way.

I still commute 20 minutes each way to school, sometimes multiple times a day. The difference is that I have found my people, the group of friends I don’t mind driving to see. Joining my campus ministry, United Methodist Students, sophomore year was the turning point of me finding a place on campus and truly calling Marshall my home. 

Now that it’s my senior year, freshman year seems so far away, but college seemed to go quickly at the same time. Just last week I heard someone complaining about Marshall and their experience, but all I could think about is that college is what you make it. You have to make the effort to find your group of people. You have to push past your boundaries and be scared at some points to find your true self and develop into a better person. 

Senior year has been a difficult one. Classes have been somewhat difficult, but not really my final semester because I was able to take fewer hours. The most difficult part has been getting really close with some friends knowing I would be leaving them soon. 

I had not really connected with many people in the journalism school until this past year. I became close with Sadie Helmick, former executive editor, a little over a year ago with our bonding over “Hamilton,” which we were able to see in Cleveland. I will be going to Honduras with her in just a couple of weeks. But this semester, several of the editors made it a weekly ritual to go to trivia at the Union every Wednesday night. We haven’t won yet and we aren’t very good but, man, it has been some of my greatest memories of the semester. Thanks to Sydney, Hanna and Amanda for being great trivia partners.

In the fall, I’ll be going to grad school at Duke University to get my Master of Divinity. I’m scared to leave my family and friends that have made Huntington more a home than ever before.

From freshman year to now, I leave a changed person. A person with more confidence, with more knowledge and with the best friends I’ve ever had. 

Heather Barker can be contacted at [email protected].