My discovery that Amherst isn't just farmland – Massachusetts Daily Collegian

I can't say I was excited to come to Amherst. At first glance, and from what I've been told many times, it's just a huge area of ​​fields, cows and crops. As a journalism major, I was particularly skeptical that there would be anything interesting to write about. But I enrolled anyway because the University of Massachusetts was relatively inexpensive.

Now, as I reflect on my four years at this newspaper, I smile as I think of the highlights of laughter, arguments and conversations that reinforced my passion for news and introduced me to the community I will be a part of over the next four years would.

At the end of my junior year, I published a story examining UMass's COVID-19 policy. I interviewed administrators about wastewater testing to measure infection levels, teachers who specialize in virus research, and spoke with emergency management about communicating quarantine protocols.

But after many interviews, I learned about the student workers who kept the complex system of public health management running. Speaking to a second-year nursing student, she shared her experiences administering vaccinations on the front lines of a nationwide pandemic in the basement of the Campus Center. It was her first time wearing a gown, and it was one of her first times administering shots and selflessly working to keep her community safe.

Earlier this year, I found myself outside the Jones Library talking to dozens of people across Western Massachusetts dressed in bright colors and rainbow umbrellas to support Giganta Smalls, a drag queen, reading books to children.

And now, over the past few days, my talented colleagues and I have been up late reporting on hundreds of people across the Pioneer Valley coming together in song and chant to stand in solidarity with those killed and displaced in Gaza . and were subsequently confronted with unrelenting police violence and mass arrests.

This is why I say that I can't pinpoint where my passion for reporting began. The community in Amherst is vibrant and vibrant and continues to surprise me with every story I investigate. Living in his heartbeat and writing about it for four years was the greatest privilege.

As this year and my academic career come to a close, I've found it difficult over the past few days to sit back and reflect, say goodbye peacefully, or allow myself a sense of closure as I spend the fourth night in a row revising and revising in our compact little office, hidden under the stairs of the student union.

I've discovered that the pursuit of news is a compulsion; It's like an itch in your back that you can't reach, and your whole body can't help but give up everything it's doing to satisfy this uncomfortable feeling. The Collegian gave me the opportunity to satisfy this urge. The excitement of breaking news and the feeling of deep empathy when I hear the concerns of my community coming together in such beautiful ways to address issues and support each other keeps me coming back to the office. And I am grateful to share this passion with so many of my friends at the Collegian.

Last year, I took on my first leadership role as an editorial assistant alongside my colleagues Luke, Grace and Caitlin. The opportunity to share laughs, memories and quotes among such talented friends is an incredibly unique experience that can only be had at a college newspaper. Your tenacity and drive inspire me every day and I owe you my passion to continue telling stories.

Thank you to my amazing editorial assistants Abby, Daniel, Grace, Olivia, and Mahi for inspiring such a strong, talented, and motivated group of writers who will undoubtedly continue to amaze me with their writing. Whether you got up at 8 a.m. to cover a court hearing or stayed after a press conference to catch up, your drive and friendship have given writers something to look forward to while they're in making new meaningful memories for our small community.

Even as I leave this newspaper, the wonderful community that I have spent so much time reporting on is not leaving me, and that is something so painful and yet so beautiful to understand.

Jack Underhill was the senior news editor. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed X @JackUnderhill16.

Anna Harden

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