I entered college with absolutely no plan for my future.
I pursued higher education, because I felt like I had to, hoping that my calling would find me along the way. I did my first two years at Clinton Community College fulfilling my general education requirements before I transferred to SUNY Plattsburgh and declared myself a multimedia journalism major.
I’ve always loved storytelling, whether it be through art, music or words, and getting to know people. The fit was natural. When I was brought to tears after witnessing the 2014 coverage of Mike Brown’s shooting and subsequent protests in Ferguson, Missouri, I knew that I wanted to be a part of making news media practices better.
I hit the ground running my first semester and joined the staff of Cardinal Points and didn’t look back. In terms of work, I did everything that I could possibly could to try and make the newspaper the best it could be – writing, photography, designing, social media, management – you name it. I joined shortly after the controversy of the printing of the racist cartoon, so my main goal was to try to rebuild the community’s trust in the paper, but more importantly the student body’s.
After spearheading the redesign and eventually rising through the ranks, I had the honor of serving as editor-in-chief for two semesters. Through this paper I’ve made lifetime friendships and professional partnerships, learned from my peers and mentors, and gained the skills and confidence needed to accomplish my goals.
The anxiety of not being able to see the future directly before me, which loomed over me toward the end of high school, is trying to rear its ugly head once more as another graduation day approaches. But when times get rough and deadlines approach or even pass me by, I always try to remember three things.
The first thing I think of is the people that got me here, and who made all the hard work worth the while. Having amazing leadership from former EICs Kavita Singh and Ben Watson gave me a goal to strive for, and I will always be thankful to them for teaching me how capable I was. I think of faculty mentors and advisers like Ron Davis, Nora Montanaro, Catherine Manegold and Shawn Murphy, who supported me through my academic career and engrained so much knowledge and inspiration in me.
But most importantly, I think of my peers and staff. Sometimes it feels like you’re the only person in the world that truly cares, but I’ve never seen a group of people so willing to stand for their passion. Insanely talented, hard-working people like Nyela Graham, Mataeo Smith, Alana Penny, Jess Johnson, Kai Bing Ang, Sareem Jabbar, Audrey Lapinski, who will be led by Fernando Alba, ease that worry. I couldn’t have done any of this without you, and your support has saved me so many times. I trust you all to keep doing the work that needs to be done and continue to strive to a high standard, no matter where you go or what you do. I couldn’t be more proud of all of you. Being able to mentor you all and be a part of your journeys is why I do what I do.
The second thought is of how important the work we do is and how important it is to our community. Being a friendly but awkward person, I never really got too involved locally. After going to meetings, events, protests, games, and talking to students, faculty and staff, I saw just how special this campus really is. There are so many resources and inspirational personal stories surrounding us it continues to blow my mind. Half the battle is showing up, being present and trying your hardest.
Lastly, I remember that the future is ours to set. The one thing that is amazing about plans is that they can change. Four years feels like an eternity until it’s over. If you told me that I would have achieved the things I have in my time here when I showed up to the first meeting, I would have laughed in your face. No matter if you have every second of your day planned out or was as helpless as I was, remember we are defined by our choices, our work and what we choose to fight for. If it’s not getting done, do it yourself. If someone is blocking your path, walk around them. If you are holding yourself back, move forward. If you don’t see the truth around you, go find it.