It’s surreal to think that my college experience, and my time at the Massachusetts Daily Collegian, is now coming to an end. It doesn’t feel that long ago when I first awkwardly introduced myself at the activities fair my first year.
But looking back, being a part of the Collegian has been an amazing experience.
When I first joined the Collegian, I was still trying to find my way at the University of Massachusetts and getting used to being at a large school on the other side of the state. I remember being nervous going to my first news meeting. I signed up for a talk at Smith College and wrote my first article. The article may not have been my best, but the feeling of accomplishment from finishing an article had me hooked. In every week that followed, I would write a new article, each time learning new ways to report as well as the many random AP style rules.
At the end of my first semester, I faced my biggest regret at UMass. The news team was hiring assistant editors, and despite wanting to apply, I hesitated due to a lack of confidence. By the time I actually applied, submissions had already closed. Now that I’ve been an assistant news editor for two years, I wish I had applied earlier.
The staff at the Collegian make up such a great community and are truly inspiring. All the people I have worked with on the news team have helped me be a better writer, a smarter reporter and a harder worker. And even working alongside the many staff members in other sections was amazing. The Collegian is made up of some of the most dedicated people I have ever met and their work shows it.
Working for the Collegian also helped me realize that I had a passion for writing and that I wanted to pursue journalism. Halfway through my sophomore year, I added journalism as a double major and was able to learn a variety of new writing and reporting techniques.
I also got to be a part of a podcast, both as a contributor and a producer. Being an introverted person, speaking on a podcast was certainly difficult at first, but after every episode I got better and started to really enjoy it. Getting to talk about the stories we had reported on with the rest of the news team was something I looked forward to every week.
When I eventually took the producer role, I was excited, albeit a little nervous, to manage a podcast. I learned how to use the WMUA studio and how to edit. Shout out to Mike Connors for teaching me all I needed to know. Once I got used to it, it was immensely satisfying to see the episode on all of our streaming platforms. I still fill my speech with the same “ahs,” “ums” and “likes” that I did on my first episode, although now I can edit most of them out.
This is certainly not the way I would have wanted my college experience to end, sitting at home, taking classes remotely and awaiting a virtual commencement amidst a global pandemic. But being inside all the time has allowed me to reflect, and I realized how valuable the last few years at the Collegian have been. I’ve met so many great people and I’ve opened up to new experiences.
If there’s one thing I learned from my time here, it’s to not be hesitant. When you’re not hesitant, you take advantage of the opportunities in front of you, and for me, it led to the best experience of my life.
Will Mallas was an assistant news editor and can be reached at [email protected]