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Tough Times, Nice People

Sometimes my favorite story in an issue isn't the most ambitious one, or the weightiest, or the most impressive. Sometimes I'm more taken with the charm of a story. That was the case with "Graduating in Tough Times" (page 32), an idea the staff cooked up in a meeting when we began contemplating Commencement 2009. How must students feel graduating into the worst economy since the Great Depression? we wondered. Are they more anxious about their futures than students were a year ago, or five years ago? Were they going to have to keep their barrista jobs for the foreseeable future? It was hard to imagine how they were feeling because none of us had had it quite so bad.

But some people certainly did. After all, Johns Hopkins University has been awarding bachelor's degrees since 1879, which means Hopkins students have survived recessions and depressions, world wars, flu pandemics, and various other national crises. What's more, a lot of those graduates are alive and — more importantly — well. All have survived their own tough times.

So we tracked a few of them down and asked them to talk about their time at Johns Hopkins, their prospects after graduating, and their experiences since. We suspected we'd learn that life goes on, and even improves. We hoped we'd get some perspective on these difficult times, and perhaps even a little inspiration for the future. I'll let you read the results for yourself, but I'll share with you that, to a person, we thoroughly enjoyed interviewing these alumni, all of whom were open and honest and enthusiastic about sharing their stories with us. Many thanks to all of them.

As edifying as those interviews were, there are some current realities to deal with. Like so many publications, the magazine is feeling the economic pinch, and we're having to make some cutbacks. Beginning this fall, you'll receive four issues of Johns Hopkins Magazine instead of five — the result of budget cuts and declining ad sales, coupled with the ever-increasing costs of producing a print publication. At the same time, we'll begin offering a digital version of the magazine for those of you who prefer computer to print. (Visit us online at for details.) Please rest assured that the staff and I are fully committed to making up in quality what we're cutting back in quantity.
— Catherine Pierre

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