Senior Sagarika Ramachandran’s day begins like any other teenager – with a couple exceptions. She emerges, bleary-eyed, at 7 am from a heavy and untimely slumber, having endured yet another nightmare about the IB diploma program. A cesspool of copyedits clutters her desk, while the sloppy ledes of the articles she is forced to review loom on the screen before her. Stumbling out of the house, she is imbued with purpose and clarity as she sips a mug of hot chocolate. It’s time to do journalism. Or something. She’s still quite tired.
In all seriousness, Ramachandran has had an outsized impact on the Cardinal Times and the Lincoln community during her four years as a high school student. Despite the immense workload of being Lincoln’s primary advocate for student journalism, she has been a passionate and dynamic force in the newsroom, transforming the staff into a strong, assertive and more supportive group of students during her year-long tenure as editor-in-chief.
Since her first experience with journalism her freshman year, the Cardinal Times has had a major impact on Ramachandran.
“It’s given me something that I’ve been really passionate towards, and I’ve also seen it grow,” says Ramachandran.
As a testament to her efforts, Ramachandran was presented with the 2019 Oregon High School Journalist of the Year award by the Journalism Education Association earlier this year.
After joining the staff her sophomore year, Ramachandran became the design editor of the Cardinal Times. At first, she didn’t see herself ascending further into the ranks of the editorial staff.
“I thought a lot of my other peers were going to be the people who would end up becoming editors-in-chief,” said Ramachandran. “The reason I got here was because I really cared, I spoke up, and I just wanted to do the best I could.”
Ramachandran was the deputy editor her junior year, rising to editor-in-chief her senior year.
“I put a lot of myself [into the paper] to make sure that it’s the best it could be. I think the biggest [lesson] was to teach me how to be a good leader,” Ramachandran says.
Ramachandran co-wrote “Abused and Afraid” last year, an exposé on the misconduct of former Lincoln teachers against students. It’s one of many pieces she’s written over the years addressing important and unnoticed issues in the Lincoln community, helping to further inspire her passion for journalism.
Outside of The Cardinal Times, Ramachandran has performed classical Indian dance at the Newmark theater and has been training for over a decade in the ancient dance form Bharatanatyam. She has been awarded with the PPS AllStar Award and recently won the Pearl Rotary Student of the Month Award, each serving as testaments to her effectual presence in and outside of the newsroom.
Ramachandran believes that the LHS community should recognize female leaders more often, citing leaders of clubs like the Native American Student Union and the Pacific Islanders Student Union. When asked about where LHS stands in terms of female leadership, Ramachandran responds “[i]t needs improvement. It will never stop needing improvement.”
This year, Ramachandran has taken steps to improve the Cardinal Times’ diversity of coverage and newsroom structure. She implemented the Cardinal Times’ first Arts and Culture issue in March, while restructuring the staff to give more leadership roles to rising student voices and increasing the Times’ digital output.
“[Sagarika] has been crucial in giving the paper the tools it needs for the future,” says junior Evan Reynolds, next year’s editor-in-chief. “Podcasts, videos, a social media presence, the leadership structure, none of that would have been possible without her stepping in and changing it. There is no future for the paper without the work she’s done here.”
This fall, Ramachandran will be attending American University in Washington, D.C., planning to major in international studies and journalism. Despite her departure, she’s hopeful about the future of the Cardinal Times and excited about next year’s staff. She is grateful for her time on the paper, and her fellow seniors who she has worked with over the past four years.
“The people I’ve come up with since freshman year have been so integral to this paper; I couldn’t have done it on my own,” says Ramachandran. “Even though we all have different roles, it’s a team effort.”