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Chloe Soetaert flips through a copy of the yearbook at Gravel City Roasters, 608 Commercial St. and talks about her time at “The Sunflower” yearbook. 

 

It is not uncommon for students to change their majors. While some students feel this might be a failure or something to be ashamed of, Chloe Soetaert is testament to what can be accomplished when one changes their major. Chloe Soetaert is a senior graphic design major and has changed her major three times.

Soetaert was undecided in her freshman year, but she quickly found a home at “The Sunflower” yearbook, and has stuck with it throughout her entire college career. 

“There’s the cliché that ‘if you love your job you’ll never work a day in your life.’ I don’t know if I completely agree,” Soetaert said. “It’s work, it’s always going to be work, it’s always going to be hard, it’s always going to be difficult, but it’s work that’s actually worth doing instead of work that feels empty to you.”

Chloe started working at “The Sunflower” as a design assistant during her freshman year and has worked her way up to Editor-in-Chief throughout the duration of her college career.

Chloe’s interest in Graphic Design as a major has been partially due to her work at “The Sunflower,” but she’s also been working with graphic design for a long time as her dad was a graphic designer and taught her about it from a young age. However, “The Sunflower” was her first job that involved graphic design.

Some of the hardest parts of her job she described as finding the balance between being friends with the other members but also making sure things were getting done at the same time, which is especially pertinent now that she’s moved up to her current position as Editor-in-Chief.

Soetaert describes the importance of the yearbook as an archive for ESU, and she acknowledges that with that comes a lot of responsibility, such as including all students, not just a set few, which can be a challenge. 

“The yearbook is an important historical document of the school,” said Kristy Dekat, adviser for “The Sunflower” and journalism professor at ESU. “The culture and historical aspects of the university that takes place throughout the entire school year.”

But not everyone seems to value the yearbook as being important on that level. In the past there have been talks about defunding the yearbook and making it digital as opposed to printing. Chloe believes that would alter the accessibility of it in the future which is important for an archive.

However, these ideas about the yearbook only push her harder to put out better copies from year to year. Soetaert also helped put forth effort to expand their social media accounts, as well as creating a logo for the yearbook.

Soetaert emphasized that the content of the yearbook is what matters more than the social media accounts. She says she comes up with a theme in the summer and discusses that with the other editors as well as the publishers for the cover before they start working on the designs.

“She’s very creative and I think the book always reflects that,” said Mike Abell, senior social science education major, and managing and photo editor of the Sunflower. “She doesn’t try too hard to be flashy, she just creates something that tries to be timeless I think.”

The yearbook is something Soetaert wants students have fun with, rather than believing it has to be too uptight. 

“She’s been through a lot to get where she is and that’s very respectable, I think she’s just a really strong person and a very mature person too,” Abell said. 

As a senior, Soetaert hopes that quality is a value that “The Sunflower” sticks with even after she graduates. Not only in the yearbook as a whole, but also on an individual basis of the staff and their particular assignments.

“Some people write off yearbooks as PR vehicles for the school, and I don’t think that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to tell it honestly and thoroughly, we cover all the sports and try to cover all the little niches,” Abell said.

Over the past few years she believes the yearbook has changed a lot in ways that have helped the yearbook grow and advance, even if that isn’t very clear to those outside of the yearbook production. 

“‘The Sunflower’ is still valuable, and still important, and a lot of people still care about it. I’m not the only one working here who still really thinks it’s an important part of their career as a student, as things that they produce, and as an archive of the university,” Soetaert said.

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