My Experience Becoming a Journalist

By Mehek Ahmed


Journalism can be a broad study. It can range from writing to photography to videography to broadcast to above and beyond through the use of modern forms of media. I’m proud to see that Centereach High School’s Newspaper Club is prevailing through the use of our online newspaper site and new writers.

I did not know that I wanted to become a journalist until I had Mr. Nielsen for English class and he guided me through my writing. Having joined Newspaper Club in my sophomore year had an inexpressible impact on my accomplishments within the past year.

The most paramount opportunity towards starting my experience as a journalist came when Mr. Nielsen had given out an application to enter Stony Brook University’s Robert W. Greene Journalism Program. I was fairly intrigued in what this program was for.

By April, I had gotten recommendations signed from my English teachers and I sent in as many writing pieces as I had from my English and Creative Writing classes. The application also required an essay stating why I would be fit for being part of the new generation of journalists.

After days of brainstorming what I would include in my essay, I made a few points on what influenced me to consider journalism as something to pursue for the future. I gave a little background about moving from a small studio in the corner of the city with my large Bangladeshi family to Centereach recently and how transformative it was. At the time, coming from a multicultural background and being able to communicate in several other languages had become a result from exposure to New York City. Growing up in a diverse city inspired me to tell stories about people who came from various places and lived in harmony with each other. With these in mind, I managed to send more about myself in the application.

By late May, I got an email saying I was wait-listed. However, a few days later I got a call saying I was accepted into the program and was surprised that I had been chosen for this selective program. When I went to the orientation the following week, I met with a professor named Zack at Stony Brook University’s Journalism School. He saw me and told me that he really appreciated the essay and how I really stood out from the rest of the applicants. I also met with several photographers and the dean of Stony Brook and told him about my passion towards non-fiction literature and knowing more about the world. It wasn’t until the orientation when I found out the foundation behind this program— the honor of Robert W. Greene, an investigative journalist who exposed corruption on Long Island and won the public service Pulitzer Prize for Newsday, as well as being a professor who taught journalism at Stony Brook University.

After the orientation, the other accepted students and I had to do our first assignment, which was a profile assignment to get to know each other. Luckily, I made my first friend who was quite similar to me. She came from a diverse background, being Korean, Russian, and Italian. We met at a Barnes & Noble and had a fun time getting to know each other and speaking about our political views. She also writes for her school newspaper at Huntington High School.

June 24th was my first day at the program. The other students and I stayed in the dorms on campus which gave me a sense of what the ambiance was like to be a journalism student at Stony Brook. Over the course of the next few days, I had an exceptional experience meeting more students that had come all throughout New York and various high schools. By the second day of our stay, we were given many assignments and deadlines. I have to admit that it was very stressful. However, one week later I realized it was all worth it. Why? Well, I learned so much within the last few days. Meeting people with the same interests had brought everyone together and created an unbreakable bond by the last day. Even the professors that guided us had noticed this difference compared to the previous annual students that came before.

Aside from bringing unity among the students, the program had also taught us skills involving photography using a Nikon Camera, taking videos, and editing films. In addition to technology, the professors taught us the major components to what makes a credible article and utilizing an inverted triangle when writing. We went to the office for Newsday, Duck Stadium, and just along campus to write about notable people. Then, we even did our own broadcast film at the Stony Brook newsroom.

I had to do an interview with a popular student named Ruchi Shah, who was a Biology Major and Journalism Minor. She was a phenomenal and remarkable alumni of Stony Brook University. Meeting her was inspiring to me as she was well-balanced and had an aptitude for fulfilling her goals. Shah had adapted science in such a way to make it more accessible to everyone around her. She was also named one of Glamour Magazine’s Top Ten College Women of the Year for 2016, is co-author of a major scientific paper, and is an entrepreneur for her potentially life-saving product called ‘Mosquitos Be Gone’; her philosophy demonstrates her humanitarian efforts and care for people around the world.

In addition to meeting Ruchi Shah, we had all attended and participated in a press conference with Steven Adelson, an ambassador in the Andrew Goodman Foundation’s Vote Everywhere program. He was on the political spectrum of this program and was able to help register over 3,000 students to vote on campus.

Meeting these motivational graduates of Stony Brook University and having the opportunity to meet a countless number of people that I can go on for days about has been one of the most stupendous experiences in my life by far. It had even opened a countless number of new opportunities for me. I had gotten my first job as a student correspondent at the Massapequa Post. By September 28th, my first article had been published to an actual newspaper after interviewing several people as valid sources in my article.  I hope to write more soon and to interview as many people as I possibly can to build up my experience.

In conclusion, as someone who watches the news and learns about specific incidents happening in the world, I have come to realize the massive impact media has on people and their perspectives. In other words, media has an immense influence on the outlook on situations and on people’s opinions.

With this intention, spreading awareness into international issues like the lack of drinking water, food for the destitute, hygiene, and vaccinations to prevent the spread of epidemics is crucial to transforming human society to an era of integrity.

Stories are all around us. Stories can encourage and motivate people. They aid humans into becoming more open-minded and empathetic beings. I would go as far as saying that news is an essential aspect of human evolution. For the most part, I desire to be a part of an amazing process of expatiating stories that are riveting in order to make the world a more just and peaceful setting. I dream to go on with this passion to become a broadcast journalist and reporter who ignites essential news throughout the nation.

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