Lessons from an unlikely stint

Annika Saunus, left, got Camille Jackson, second from right, to join the Spartan newspaper. The duo were joined friends Petra Veljkovic, and Tatiana Tobolka in Puerto Rico during Spring Break, 2022.

During my sophomore year, I befriended a German named Annika. 

Annika was a Nordic skier and became the national champion in 2022 before hopping on a flight back to Europe. 

Before she left, I learned a thing or two. 

She was organized, straightforward, smart, heaps of fun, and had a knack for writing. 

It didn’t take much convincing for her to drag me to the media room on the ground floor of Leavenworth on a Monday at midday. It was towards the end of the semester, and eyes fell on us as we stumbled our way through brief introductions. 

Annika left soon after, committed to a Sports, Business, and Law program in Germany where she would go on to travel the world; reporting on various sporting competitions from New York to China. 

I couldn’t very well forget her legacy and passion for news reporting. 

So, I stayed on, attending weekly meetings without my German friend to accompany me. 

As it turns out, news reporting is delightfully fun and more importantly, it taught me lessons unfound within the frameworks of a classroom. 

As an international student, having a commitment to the newspaper meant a written record of my time exploring this corner of the world. While my memory forgets the multitude of events, holidays, activities, and mundane days at Castleton, the cutouts of each article serve as placeholders that I can hold onto indefinitely. 

It took a while before blocks of paragraphs morphed into journalism-style sentences and longer still before I could confidently edit articles as copy editor. 

I even, fleetingly, considered life as a journalist; swayed by the impact reporters have on the perspective of readers. Being a journalist meant selecting what information to share, what adjectives to choose, how relevant snippets of information were, which verbs best described actions, and what smattering of words would likely lasso skimming eyes to a story. 

It is power; the power of determination and the power to dictate the direction of a story. 

Importantly, being a member of the Spartan team exposed me to a dimension of Castleton I was previously unaware of. 

As a recruit for the Castleton Alpine Ski Team, my scope of interest oscillated primarily around sports, unattuned to the broader changes and happenings of the campus-at-large. 

It has been a pleasure to unpack and understand this campus and its interactions with the Castleton community. 

Reporting on art, political events, interviewing presidents, and sharing my own experiences with readers certainly made me feel connected to the ongoings of the school. 

As I prepare to throw myself into a new unknown post-graduation, I will hold onto the memory of locking nervous eyes with Annika at our first Spartan meeting, unaware of what the Spartan would teach me and more saliently, the power of reporting. 

“The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them,” Thomas Jefferson. 

– Camille Jackson

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