Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Nothing conventional

By Chelsea Whitton

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This is the one of the hardest times I’ve had writing a piece of work for The Massachusetts Daily Collegian. It contains the most edits and word changes I’ve made in any column or story. It involves not interviewing people much more articulate than I, students at protests or poetry readings, creeping people out while photographing them or sometimes infuriating readers of the Editorial and Opinion page (all of whom have all been quite enjoyable by the way). Instead, I’m having a little sit down, a one-on-one with my memories and my appreciation for my time here with the Collegian and University of Massachusetts. For this time only its me reminiscing, typing everything that comes to mind on my scotch taped laptop, as I sit in the W.E.B. DuBois Library for one of the last times watching the sun set over the mountains.

I knew writing was supposed to be part of my life, so I went to college intending to learn just that – how to report and write. I’ve gained a peace in knowing that I can take my wacky interests, which vary from finding out why whales breach out of the water to how igneous basaltic lava flows can be found all over the valley (once an ocean), to how to write a news story in a half-hour. I couldn’t focus on any one thing and along with this came the major that didn’t require having the skills to do so. It makes sense that journalism found me.

In July 2008 I made a phone call to the admissions office of UMass that surely saved me from continuing attending a life of misery at a private college in Newport, R.I. I wasn’t getting anything out of, and would leave me with a large sum of debt. As someone who knows the salary of a writer – that just wasn’t happening.

So with the phone call to admissions, I informed them I planned on attending as a sophomore in the fall. At transfer orientation I found that I was placed not in the journalism program but in the environmental science program (my second choice). I thought to myself, this could work, there’s more money in it. But as I sat in the office waiting my turn to sign up for classes, I was panicking on the inside – I knew where I had to be. After all, I wanted to go to UMass specifically for the journalism program and the paper.

When it was my turn I asked the adviser, “I’m really sorry but I have to leave, could you direct me to where the journalism program meets?” Upon answer, I ran out of there and then was immediately placed in the program. I’m thankful for this everyday. I truly have found my heart for writing.

I’ve had 13 roommates, had a residence under a friend’s bed for a couple weeks in Greenough, moved three times in one semester and currently live in a Jewish organization owned apartment as a Christian. My time here has been unconventional and anything but boring and yet I believe couldn’t have gotten more out of it than I did.
What am I going to miss? I won’t miss being broke most of the time, but I’m going to miss the nature out here in Amherst – as I’m moving towards Boston. I’m going to miss seeing friends and getting to know so many life-changing people. I’m going to miss begging people to write for Ed/Op. I’m probably going to lose my eye for AP style and I’m not going to have the whole “I’m a fiery redhead, write me 750 words in an hour or I hurt you vibe” anymore.

My involvement with both the Collegian and Navigators Ministries are two things that kept my life “scotch taped” together at college. They kept me motivated, gave me peace in knowing I was contributing towards society and community. Writing and editing for the Collegian has been the experience of a lifetime, in only the two years I was involved. I couldn’t have asked for a better organization to be a part of. Also, hiding out at the paper in between classes was a safe haven that only a select few of us get to experience, with all its basement glory – so I’m glad for that too. I’m just really glad for all of it.

Chelsea Whitton was an assistant editorial and -opinion editor 2010-2011, columnist and staff writer from 2009 to 201l and copy editor from 2009-2010. She can be reached at [email protected]

1 Comment

One Response to “Nothing conventional”

  1. Debbiw Whitton on May 3rd, 2011 8:30 am

    Mom and dad are very proud of all you have accomplished and can’t wait to celebrate your GRADUATION!


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