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Student journalist reflects on time spent on ‘Collegiate’ staff


By Jacquelyn Zeman – Chief Web Editor

Jacquelyn ZemanAlthough I may have lacked several hours of sleep multiple times a week over the last two years, there is no other way I would have rather spent my time as a student at Grand Rapids Community College.

When I graduated from high school in 2013, I did not receive the best response from high school classmates and teachers when I told them I would be attending the local community college.

I can say now I have actually learned more about myself, and about people in the last two years at community college than I did in my first 18 years.

Contrary to what many think, community colleges are real colleges. If you embrace the experience, some really unique opportunities can come from it.

Before I even set foot on campus for my first class in August of 2013, I accepted the job of News Editor at the student newspaper. At the time I did not know much about the technical aspects of journalism, but I knew I wanted to give the career option a test drive. I am now graduating as the Co-Editor/Chief Web Editor of the paper.

The Collegiate proved to me that writing something good, or sometimes getting anything down on the page at all, is difficult. It is especially challenging when you are not in the mood to write, tired, or you have a lot of other things going on in your life that really need your attention as well.

Writing on a regular basis though has made me much better at pulling something readable together at a moment’s notice, even at the most un-godly hours of the night.

Having a constant flow of work, and little time to take a breather between print publications has actually made me learn how to organize and manage my life.

The workload that college itself brings is not easy, but if I discovered anything from the past two years, it would be how to make deadlines.

The reality of working for the college newspaper helped me see how many students, professors and faculty members support and really love what we do, but on the other hand I’ve also realized how that many people don’t like me just because I work for the student newspaper.

It does not matter what you do, I think there will always be people who disagree with your cause and will want to criticize your work. On the other hand, there will always be people who are supportive of what you do.

I have learned that the first amendment, and freedom of speech in particular, is a pretty big deal for journalists. In the last year especially, it has been seen more than ever that student media outlets are having their rights limited.

The Collegiate has also made me much more aware of how technology can really shape my career. Journalism is changing, but not going away.

Everyone is becoming a journalist in a way with social media shaping the media industry. I need to be ready for this shift to change the way I will look at my potential career.

The “gift of gab” has saved me many times when putting together a story. Being able to not just ask the right questions, but able to walk up to anyone and strike up a conversation has proven to be one of the best skills I have taken away. Being inquisitive has made the process of investigative journalism seem much smoother.

Working for the Collegiate has made life after college seem a lot less scary than it was before. I have a clearer view of what I want my life to look like when I graduate.

Working with a small staff at the paper has had many benefits. We have been in the trenches together, trying to create interesting stories, but also meet deadlines. Through this you discover how people’s strengths and weaknesses can complement each other to create a win-win situation. You accept someone for who they are, because you know their story and how they got to where they are today.

I have become a better writer and editor, but by far the most rewarding part of working for the Collegiate was seeing the paper improve, and see my fellow staff members become better journalists.

The final print product is great to hold in your hand after each production cycle, but nothing will really compete with the process it took to make that publication happen.

Zeman will be attending Central Michigan University in the fall to study Integrative Public Relations.