Collage of covers of Lift Magazine

Passing the Pen

Sara Withrow, longtime editor of Lift Magazine, puts an end bug on her tenure

Life is a relay of sorts. We’re perpetually creating and then handing our creations off to others to build upon, hopefully to improve and ultimately hand off to someone else. In April, I celebrated my 10-year anniversary as the editor of Lift and my final day as an employee at Embry-Riddle.

The relay race seemed an appropriate metaphor for this occasion, as I race to complete my last edition of Lift. As I write this letter, I can see in my mind the outstretched hand of the next Lift editor reaching energetically for my baton — in this case, my pen.

Life is full of relay races. Think of child-rearing. As a parent, you raise a child through different life stages. Once they hit school age, you help them advance through their studies from grammar school to high school and then to college. In each stage, they receive instruction, guidance and input from you, but also from teachers, other family members and friends. Ultimately, they “graduate” from your care to careers and spouses, and they oftentimes start their own human creations. But they remain in your heart, forever your child.

The space program is another example. Nearly every alumnus/na who works for NASA or the commercial space industry who I’ve talked with has credited those who came before them — our space pioneers — for their projects’ successes. It’s a collective effort of lifeworks woven together. This collective took humankind to the moon, built an International Space Station, and in February 2021, put the aptly named Perseverance rover on Mars. The first all-civilian space flight, the next stretch for SpaceX in its relay to advance space travel, is set to launch later this year — and Embry-Riddle alumnus Jared Isaacman (’11) is the commander.

While generations of people have contributed to the space program, each would proudly call the programs they worked on “their baby.” This sense of pride comes from the countless hours and sleepless nights they invested, the passion that motivated their drive to succeed, as well as the life moments, outside of work, that they sacrificed along the way.

In the field of communications, we don’t build rockets. Our lifework is created word by word, story by story. When building a magazine, we hand our creations off to editors, illustrators and designers to add their touches and expertise to produce the highest quality, most engaging print product for our audiences. I didn’t birth Lift. But it’s definitely been my baby.

As a Christian, I believe God, the great Creator, places people where they need to be at the right time in their lives. We may not see the ultimate purpose of our efforts, but we trust that it’s fulfilled nonetheless. In a relay race, each runner sprints as fast as they can to win their individual stretch of the race, knowing that their effort can make or break the team’s success. I’ve run my fastest, and now, it’s time for the handoff. My story isn’t over, but this stretch of the relay is. I believe my purpose, here, has been fulfilled — at least for now.

I’m grateful to all of you — our readers — for providing the inspiration for and substance behind Lift, and for sharing your stories with me over the last decade. Just like you made lifelong friends and colleagues as students and alumni of Embry-Riddle, I’ve done the same. There’s something special about this place. Wrapped up in the shared passion for aerospace and aviation is a spirit of family and teamwork that I dare say is unparalleled.

In publications, when a story is over, we signify it with a symbol we call an end bug. This tells the reader that the story is complete and won’t be continuing to the next page. In Lift, we use the eagle logo as our end bug. Note to design: Let’s put an end bug on this.

Note from design: End bugs are usually only in the print edition of Lift, but we’ll make an exception in this case.