Thank you Daily Collegian, the stress was worth it

By Christina Yacono

(Christina Yacono)

Photography has long been a hobby of mine, but after four years at the University of Massachusetts and the Collegian, it has grown to become a real passion. When I first came to UMass, I was lost in the overwhelming sea of people and ideas. I didn’t know what my major would be, let alone about any clubs or activities I would join. After joining various clubs, I never quite felt at home, not until I found the Collegian my second semester in freshman year.

Once I had my first three photos published in the paper, I was hooked. I started to go to the photo meetings and tried taking various kinds of photos. The Collegian gave me the chance to take all sorts of different photos at lectures, community events, concerts, political rallies, club events…the list goes on.

I’ve always been a fan of New England sports (despite growing up abroad) and the Collegian was the best place I could have imagined improving my skills while enjoying my favorite teams. It was through the Collegian that I could visit Fenway Park and Gillette Stadium, while doing photos and videos. However, my favorite sport is hockey, and now I can happily say that I’ve taken hockey photos more times than I can count.

Photography also led me to one of the most amazing moments in my entire college career. As a sophomore, I was lucky enough to get assigned to do photos for, in my humble opinion, one of the best spring concerts ever. While I was waiting backstage to get my shot at photos of Chance the Rapper, I found myself alone in a large room at the Mullins Center. Or so I thought. Soon entered one of the other performers, who just so happened to be Hoodie Allen. We talked for a full five minutes and I barely even remember what we said, but I assure you I will never forget the experience of being in that room.

As I became more comfortable with my new job in photos, I began to branch out. I used to revile writing papers for school, but all my time around the newspaper gave me inspiration to do writing I could enjoy. I began writing articles to accompany my photos and eventually joined the news team, which led me to do videos as well. What began as a personal challenge eventually grew into something that felt like photo-journalism.

It was just after this time that I had to take a break from the Collegian to study in Japan for a year. Despite the great distance between us, the Collegian still found a way to back me up. If you’ve read some of my articles, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of One Direction. While I was abroad, Zayn Malik decided to split off from the rest of the band and released his first solo album. The Collegian team let me return, if only briefly, to write a review of it.

Upon my return, I was warmly greeted with a combination of new and old faces who let me pick up right where I left off. Despite it being my senior year at this point, I was only starting to realize how much more serious the Collegian was than other school newspapers. Combined with increasingly demanding classes and an unfortunate series of medical issues, it was sometimes stressful to do what I loved, but because of that pressure I felt quite rewarded. As the 2016 Presidential Election reached its peak, I was able to do a piece on an event that gained national attention. When veterans and people in the local community gathered at Hampshire College to protest their removal of the American flag, I never expected how intense the mood would be. Nor would I have thought that while covering the event, I would casually interview the mayor of Springfield, Domenic Sarno. The Collegian really brought me closer to the politics I found fun.

It’s times like these that I will remember the Collegian by. Not just as a newspaper, but a place where someone with any slight interest can pursue and expand those ideas into something tangible and awesome. Without the Collegian, I wouldn’t be who am I today, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Christina Yacono was the news producer and can be reached at [email protected]