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Editor-in-Chief makes most of school-sponsored trip to NYC

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Collegiate staffers made no attempt to hide the fact that they are tourists on their first night in Times Square. Photo by Jonathan D. Lopez
Collegiate staffers made no attempt to hide the fact that they are tourists on their first night in Times Square.  Photo by Jonathan D. Lopez
Collegiate staffers made no attempt to hide the fact that they were tourists on their first night in Times Square. Photo by Jonathan D. Lopez

By Sean P. Mulhall – Editor-in-Chief

Earlier this month I traveled to New York City for this first time since the summer after eighth grade.
I was there, with my fellow editors at The Collegiate, for a student media conference. The purpose of the trip was to attend the lectures, gain insights into the world of professional journalism and network a little bit.

While I did meet some interesting fellow student journalists and learned quite a bit from the guest speakers, I took this opportunity of a lifetime to explore the most interesting city in the country, maybe the world. It’s hard to say that, because I’ve never been to Paris or Tokyo, among many other places on my list to visit someday.

My first time in New York was for a school trip and I only had one, strictly supervised, day. This time, as a 27-year-old man, I was given a little more freedom concerning my itinerary. The days were mostly devoted to the conference and the entire group gathered for breakfast and dinner. Aside from dinner, the nights, after 5 p.m. we were free to spend the time the way we wanted, within reason.

Staying at the Times Square Sheraton set us up in a central location about 10 blocks south of Central Park and within walking distance of Broadway and 5th Avenue, among many other attractions that I did not have the time to see.

The first couple of days were spent wandering around in awe of the shear magnitude of the city, the people on the streets, the size of the buildings and the general craziness associated with the combination of these three things.

I just wanted to walk around and let whatever editors I was with decide the course we would take and we saw some very cool things. Among the highlights of those excursions were 30 Rockefeller Plaza. Sadly there was not a Tina Fey sighting.

I experienced many firsts including riding the famous subway system, hailing a yellow taxi and eating a hot dog from a street vendor, but I had some very specific must see destinations on my itinerary.

The first place on my list was The Dakota Building. This is the building John Lennon and Yoko Ono were living in when Lennon was shot and killed, in 1980, by crazed fan, Mark David Chapman. As a lifelong Beatle fan and, more importantly a huge fan of Lennon’s music and views, personal, political and artistic, I had to visit the place where the man took his last breath.

I had my picture in front this deeply important and personally significant landmark by Chief Web Editor Jacquelyn Zeman. While I did not have the time to sit and reflect and fully appreciate it, because it is a residence and not a tourist attraction, I did have my picture taken and took a moment to pay my respects to one of my heroes.

Later that night, I went to the next spot I had to visit, the Museum of Modern Art. This semester I decided to take History of Modern Art, with GRCC Professor Kimberly Overdevest, on a whim. What I thought was going to be a bad idea, turned out to be one of the best I’ve ever made. I now know more than I ever thought I would about artists and their techniques, as well as their personal lives. After this awakening happened, MoMA jumped right up near the top of my list. It was incredible to see Picasso’s “Three Musicians” and Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” in real life, but the best part had to be seeing the loose brushstrokes of Claude Monet from less than six inches away. It’s too bad the special Bjork exhibit was at capacity, because I would have loved to see my favorite Icelandic singer’s new music video in an interactive experience.

It must be noted that upon leaving MoMA, my adviser, Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood, convinced me to walk over 40 blocks to the Metropolitan Museum of Art with her, Jacquelyn, Photo Editor Jonathan D. Lopez and A&E/Features Editor Kayla Tucker. Even though I was dead tired and my phone was even closer to death, I decided, “What the hell?”

I’m so glad she did, because I had no idea the MET had a smaller, but more impressive collection of Modern Art. I got to see my first Georgia O’Keefe and Salvador Dali paintings, as well as my favorite painting of all time – “Portrait of Gertrude Stein” by Pablo Picasso.

The third and most important destination for me was The New York Times building. As an aspiring student journalist I think that the pinnacle of journalism happens through this media outlet. While I would have liked to take a tour during business hours and meet some of the reporters and editors I admire, my 2 a.m. walk with Sports Editor, Zach Watkins, was enough to satisfy my need to say I’ve been there. Hopefully someday I’ll return to the company, but as an employee, not a tourist.

With my aspirations of becoming a successful journalist and writer, people always give me a funny look and ask if I really think it wise to want to enter an industry in flux, where newspapers are falling like dominoes and the future isn’t clear. After standing in front of The New York Times building, freezing my butt off at 2 a.m., to take a silly little picture to post on Instagram, at the end of a week of lectures focused on the very same questions people, myself included, ask everyday, my goal of a life as a professional journalist has only been reaffirmed.

This is the path I am supposed to be on. With heroes including David Carr, Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain and Ben Bradlee I can’t imagine wanting to do anything else that would be more fulfilling.