After graduating high school in 2010, I went on a campus tour around Montclair State University with my father, promising him that I would attend school here one day. Little did I know I would fall in love with the university and create a lifetime of memories with School of Communication and Media professors, faculty and students.
One of the very first student organizations I joined was The Montclarion student newspaper. I stayed constantly busy, pitching news ideas to the editors and was eager to learn. Between classes I would just crash on the publication’s couch or chat with students rather than make the quick drive home.
At The Montclarion, I never felt like an outcast. I was surrounded by a talented, hardworking group of people who shared a common goal: to make a difference through the art of storytelling.
Being a journalism major and my involvement with The Montclarion have been two of the best decisions I made throughout my experience here. I learned to write for almost every section of the newspaper — except for sports because let’s be honest, I would probably include inaccurate sports terms, like ‘McTwisty’ in basketball. I’ve interviewed students, faculty, celebrities, educators, politicians, veterans and so many other incredible people.
Out of all the sections within the newspaper, entertainment was definitely my beat. If there was an opportunity to interview directors, stage crew or anyone within the arts really, I wanted to do it.
When I became an assistant and eventually the entertainment editor, I felt extremely motivated to do everything I could to improve the section. Whenever I knew it lacked content, I would find stories through social media and contact students and faculty for a juicy story – even if that meant putting The Montclarion ahead of getting good grades at some points.
The time I invested in The Montclarion helped improve my writing skills. As a result, I had two paid internships this year – one with NorthJersey.com and the other with Z100’s “Elvis Duran and the Morning Show.” It was like my efforts never went unnoticed while working for The Montclarion.
I had received two scholarships, went to the Dallas College Media Convention with the staff and won the New Jersey Press Foundation first place award for “Best Web Project” that I proudly share with my New Jersey Local News class. I’ve gone from one prosperous opportunity to another, and I have loved every minute of it.
I have had hiccups as a writer and editor. I’ve made mistakes and still do. I took risks, I thought outside the box and that’s okay. However, I still wanted to tell the truth and I was eager to learn how I could improve. I have also had the opportunity to lead and inspire others, which was something I missed doing since I got out of the Marine Corps the same year I transferred to Montclair State.
I would like to thank my family and friends for all of their encouragement. To the love of my life Alfredo, whom I will be graduating with, these past five years with you have been a testament to our strength and determination. You helped bring out the best in me, and I am ready to accomplish more of our goals together.
I owe gratitude to all of the School of Communication and Media professors, especially Tara George, Kelly Whiteside, Steve McCarthy, Vernard Gantt and Tom Franklin. They have been excellent mentors for me. Their constructive criticism, advice and support has molded me into a better writer and multimedia journalist. I am grateful for all the lessons they have taught me and will greatly miss them.
To the past and current Montclarion staff, you all hold a special place in my heart. We may have butted heads sometimes due to creative differences, but we still worked effectively as a team. Receiving thorough critiques from professor George and the rest of the editors truly made me grow as a journalist. From the friendships I have made to deciding where we would get our food from on Wednesdays, I cherish all of the moments I’ve had with you.
To the contributing and staff writers that I had mentored, thank you for listening to my advice and teaching me how to be a better mentor. I hope you all continue to contribute to The Montclarion because you never know what opportunities your work can bring you.
Working with The Montclarion made me realize how important it is to research and work as a team, and that you need thick skin within a career in the media. You cannot please everyone and they will love and/or hate you depending on what you publish. You also have to pay attention to detail and be concise with your words.
Furthermore, I am leaving here proud of the work I submitted and feeling prepared. The Montclarion has made my educational experience more fulfilling and fun.
This is Babee Garcia reporting from The Montclarion, one last time.