“Welcome to New York” by Taylor Swift blasted from the Castleton College van’s speakers as Castleton journalism students arrived in the Big Apple March 19 for a three-day conference.
They would soon themselves running around eating falafels off street carts, getting free Yik Yak socks from the conference goodie bag, watching a NCAA Big East Tournament game and roaming around with zoo animals.
For nine years, communication professor Dave Blow has been bringing students who have a passion for journalism to a College Media Association Conference at the Sheraton Hotel in Times Square. This year, nine deserving students, all members of The Spartan, were taken along for the ride.
“It was one of my most enjoyable trips,” said Blow. “I thought the group dynamic was excellent, both academically and fun-wise.”
The conference hosts hundreds of sessions for students to choose from, all related to the world of journalism and the media. For senior Jorah McKinley film and documentary reporter, Vikrum Ghandi, made her realize that good storytelling is key to having people care and fight for something they believe in. Although she doesn’t envision herself writing in a newspaper setting, his brand of reporting excited her.
“I’m not sure where my degree will lead me, but the conference instilled trust in the fact that I’ll be able to steer myself in any direction I find interesting,” McKinley said.
However, the trip completely changed her mind about the city life. She even mentioned she could really find herself living and working there.
Another member of The Spartan, Catherine Twing, shared McKinley’s view.
“The trip to New York was a really great experience for me. Besides re-affirming that I definitely want to be a journalist, it made me feel more independent and capable in the city,” Twing said.
She attended five sessions, like the rest of the students did, and was mostly intrigued by the session about going to graduate school versus going right to work. Twing said it was interesting to learn that in the business world it’s all about who you know and the experience you have, rather than the school you attended.
Some students however, had mixed reviews about certain sessions. Senior Daley Crowley, attended a session called “Finding your niche in the media world,” and found it to be noteworthy, yet not what she expected and a tad boring. She did however enjoy the session held by the inventors of Yik Yak and she especially enjoyed the Ghandi keynote speech, in which he detailed his documentary in which he created a religion and posed as a preacher to study how people react to religion. He also reports stories across the globe for VICE.
“The filming he does with them must be a crazy experience – I would love to work for a TV show that would allow me to travel all over the place and film amazing things,” Crowley said.
Other students on the trip, Mike Davis and Andrew Cremins, were psyched about the sports aspect of journalism. Both were able to attend sessions with reporters from Sports Illustrated and ESPN.
“I was able to gain great insight on ‘the how’ to get to that elite level,” Cremins said.
After finding out the Sports Illustrated reporter was only 24 years old, he felt very motivated.
“I think it’s awesome and inspiring for someone so young to excel, sitting atop of the sports journalism world,” Cremins said.
The trip also included linking up with Castleton alums Molly DeMellier and Stephanie Arndt, who both attend graduate schooling in the city.
This reporter, who is planning on applying to New York University for grad school, was able to attend a class at NYU with DeMellier and she found it to be one of the most rewarding experiences of the entire trip. What took her by surprise however, was the fact that every student in class was foreign, except DeMellier.
“There are more Meng Zhang’s in the NYU email system than there are Molly’s. I checked,” DeMellier said with a laugh.
At the end of the trip, students packed up with Vermont as their next destination. Blow said he loved the trip and how engaged the students were and couldn’t wait to see what’s in store for upcoming years.
“This is both a perk for them for working hard and my attempt at exposing them to opportunities,” he said. “And this group was awesome.”