June 27, 2021. It was a sunny, early-summer day. Nothing particularly notable was supposed to come of it. The grand day should have come just 24 hours earlier, when I officially became a high school graduate. Regardless of how nice the weather was or how many birds were chirping, my mind was elsewhere: I was trying to figure out who I wanted to be in college. I knew I liked to write and that I liked sports so I turned to the school paper.
After some brief searching, I found The Daily Campus’ “about us” page and saw the incoming editors’ names: Ashton Stansel, the Sports Editor and Jonathan Synott, the Associate Sports Editor. After looking, I quickly found Jon on Instagram and shot him a DM, which he answered not too long after. Jon then graciously put up with my unrelenting questions – and there were A LOT – when he probably would have been happier enjoying his summer. “What beat should I apply for? How do I strategically apply for a beat? Do I get to travel with the team?” God bless him for answering everything.
Once I actually got to campus, Jon was the person I turned to with any inquiries. As the freshman scared to get things wrong, but not to ask questions, Jon’s patience was exactly what I needed to grow. He showed me how to write at the college level in a constructive way and helped me cultivate and hone my outlandish ideas that would have made many people on the internet upset. I understand that this came during a time when he was finding his footing editing after making the jump from Campus Correspondent to ASE, so the fact that he was able to provide so much guidance to me is all the more impressive.
Another thing that impressed me about Jon during my freshman year was his balance. He wasn’t a no-nonsense person in the sense that he knew how to joke around and have fun. With all of the section being full-time college students and many working as volunteers, keeping the meetings fun and light is a critical and underrated aspect to retention. On the other hand, he knew when it was time to keep things moving, since there was business that needed to be done. He wasn’t afraid to use the DC meeting room gavel when side conversations got out of hand.
The next year when I took on the ASE position, I got to see Jon in a new light. He was no longer my all-knowing editor/boss, but instead my partner. Similar to how he taught me to be the best writer I could be, he also helped me become the best editor I could be.
We had a number of situations throughout the year that put us in tough spots, but it seemed like he always knew the right direction to go. Over time, I learned a lot from him and every answer became clearer. He made himself extremely accessible and was easy to work with. We made decisions together and in the rare cases when I was looking too far ahead or too close in, he helped center me without making me feel bad for thinking in such a way. We looked over each other’s articles and the feedback he provided continued to make me a better writer.
I could go on and on, but simply put, Jon was the best role model I could ask for at the DC. Every time I needed help developing and growing, he was there to steer me in the right direction. I don’t know what my time at the DC would have looked like if Jon wasn’t there, but I do know that the organization – myself included – was incredibly fortunate to benefit from his efforts and time.