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Student Literary & Arts Magazine Goes All Online, Publishes on Different Timeline for 2020


Untitled black and white image – 35mm silver gelatin print, 8×10, by Elaina Heikes

CONWAY, Ark. (September 17, 2020) – Volume 62 of the Aonian, Hendrix College’s student literary and visual arts magazine, made its debut Friday, Sept. 4, arriving later than its typical spring release, and for the first time, as an all-online publication. But then, nothing was typical about the Spring 2020 semester. 

Along with their classmates, Sierra Tribbett-Collins and Jacie Andrews found themselves finishing their senior year away from the Hendrix campus because of the coronavirus pandemic. And as the Aonian’s editor-in-chief and graphic designer, respectively, they had more than a little extra work in front of them to close their chapter in a Hendrix tradition that dates back to the middle of the 20th century. 

Tribbett-Collins and Andrews spoke recently with Amy Forbus ’96, director of communications for the College, about this unique experience in the history of the Hendrix literary and arts community.

How much did the original plan for the Aonian change with the move to remote learning?

Sierra Tribbett-Collins: I’d say it was a pretty intense change. Our circumstances were a little different at the beginning because we didn’t form our staff until late February due to a shift in leadership, so we were kind of scrambling to meet the deadlines. With the remote switch, we were able to slow down a little and didn’t need nearly as much funding since we weren’t using our usual publishing company. But the remote switch naturally made communication much more difficult, so it had its own set of pros and cons.

Jacie Andrews: Every year the Aonian is in print and the staff meets in person to discuss pieces and plans. This year was different in that we began our meetings, and they were soon cut short. We were able to meet virtually and talk about the magazine, of course, but we did end up having to do a lot of the work throughout the summer as well. Having the Aonian online was definitely a switch, and that was something we had to figure out as we went.

How do you both feel about the end product?

ST: I’m really happy with it. Jacie did a great job as graphic designer, and I think we both learned a lot more about an online format than we would’ve expected. I love the tried and true format of the previous editions of the Aonian, but it was exciting to be able to produce something that felt so different.

JA: Yes, Sierra, I think we learned a lot! I’m extremely joyful about the Aonian this year. I think it’s full of talent, and I’m happy to see artists in the Hendrix community recognized. The online version turned out well, and we had tons of great feedback. I think it’s also a way for us to come together in a time when we sometimes feel so far apart.

You both graduated this spring. How much time did you put into the project post-Commencement, and what was that like?

JA: Sierra and I corresponded throughout the entire summer and worked together on the project. It was actually something I looked forward to after work every day. I think working on the Aonian was a learning experience, most definitely, but it was also a thing that I really wanted to do. It meant a lot to me to be a part of the process, and I wanted to make it feel good to others as well.

ST: Surreal is probably how I’d describe it. On top of a virtual graduation, we were still finishing judging the pieces, gathering up the materials to send off to the judges, and communicating regularly with our faculty advisor, Ty [Jaeger, professor of English]. It almost felt like we were still plowing along as if it were any other day at Hendrix, despite the circumstances being so abnormal. It was a good strangeness, though. I think it was really important to have that slice of our “old life” still intact.

It sounds like the team was driven enough that there probably wasn’t any point at which you thought it might not come together.

JA: Once we were settled, things felt pretty solid to me. Sierra did a fantastic job communicating with all of us, and that was something I really appreciated.

ST: Thanks Jacie! I agree, I never doubted that we’d drop the project. 

You mentioned Ty’s support; what other resources helped you make the Aonian a reality this year?

JA: The Aonian staff and the Hendrix-Murphy Foundation staff were awesome. For me, being able to go through the archives and see previous volumes of the Aonian was a huge help in designing. It was most certainly a different format, but being able to see all sorts of organization techniques was very important.

ST: In terms of the online aspect, the existing Aonian website on Wordpress was a huge help. It was a resource that had been maintained by previous editors for a while, in order to provide archives of old editions. Since we were given the login information from last year’s editor, we were able to explore more of what the website had to offer. The Hendrix-Murphy Foundation was also extremely supportive, and they were happy to fund the annual Aonian contest despite it being later in the year. 

Other than spending all your free time on the Aonian, what have you been doing since graduating from Hendrix?

JA: I’ve been working at Rabbit Ridge Farms and reading as much as I can. I’ve also been spending lots of time cooking, which has been nice! I try to run sometimes, too, but I’d much rather cook or read, if I’m being honest.

ST: Since I live with a family member who is high-risk, I’ve been fortunate to find a job that allows for me to be remote. I’ve done a bit of Zoom tutoring for online students and recently started a job as a transcriber through Arkansas State University. And writing and reading, of course! In times of chaos and unpredictability, it’s been really special for me to have all of these other worlds to dive into.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

JA: Being able to put the Aonian together was special, and I’m so honored to have had the opportunity. This journal is something I’ve always admired (since being at Hendrix) and being able to be a part of it was such a nice way to end my college career. I’m so thankful we were able to offer it this year, despite the circumstances.

ST: I know Jacie already touched on this, but I’d just like to add that I'm really happy the Hendrix community still wanted to make the Aonian happen. Just as it would have been easy for us to walk away from it, it would have been easy for students not to show interest in the final product. Despite the submission deadline being shortly before campus shut down, I still received a few late submissions after we’d gone remote, as well as an almost-immediate text from a staff member asking if we were still going to have a magazine. It was really touching to see how many people cared about the fate of the Aonian

JA: Yeah, Sierra! It’s so nice to see how much people care about the Aonian. Thanks for saying that.

View the Aonian, Volume 62

About Hendrix College

A private liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas, Hendrix College consistently earns recognition as one of the country’s leading liberal arts institutions, and is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges. Its academic quality and rigor, innovation, and value have established Hendrix as a fixture in numerous college guides, lists, and rankings. Founded in 1876, Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. To learn more, visit