Student success at the National College Media Convention


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The simple act of getting to New York City was a hassle. The Spur found out about the conference in the fall, and had hopes of attending, but slowly we realized that we didn’t have the funds to make that happen.

Thankfully, our advisor Ruthe Thompson, did some work and applied for a grant. We were given $3,500, which was almost enough to cover the cost of the flight, lodging, and conference fee. Ben Broze, Grant Kleiman, Kelly Regan, and myself had to pay just under $200, which is less than one night at our hotel. Needless to say, I paid up pretty quickly.

Once spring break finally came, and we all got to the airport on March 7 for our 9 a.m. flight (that turned into 9:30 a.m. because of late flight attendants), Mother Nature kicked in for the worse. It started to blizzard in NYC, but our pilots flew us there anyways. We got there, about to land, and then a voice comes on overhead telling us that LaGuardia airport has been shut down for the day until further notice.

So, we flew to the Detroit airport. That’s where we sat from about 1:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. that night. Eventually, we found a different flight that was going to LaGuardia (not that the workers there told us anything, we found it ourselves), and we were able to get on that one.

At that point of the night, the worst of the blizzard had passed and the snow had turned to slush. Eventually we were able to get to our hotel that night around 10:30 p.m., where we all promptly showered and went to bed.

The conference started at 9 a.m., with multiple sessions going throughout the day. We each attended the ones that looked interesting to us. That day I went to one about anonymous sources, the keynote speaker, studying abroad and writing about it, and one on the Larry Nassar case.

By far, the Larry Nassar case was my favorite convention. The student writers from Michigan State were there and they talked about what it was like for them for the two years that they covered Nassar’s story. They lost sleep, their mental health slipped, and they were constantly busy. Hearing their side was really interesting to me.

After our sessions ended around 4:30 p.m., the four of us went to find food, and then headed to Broadway to watch Anastasia. It was amazing. They all sang crazy well, the props and backgrounds were done in an interesting way, and there was even a scene where a girl did real, well done ballet. I would’ve loved to have gone to more plays.

Once Anastasia ended we went to this dessert place called Holey Cream (go there if you’re in NYC!). They had doughnut ice cream sandwiches! It was amazing, by far my favorite food that I had. Seriously, so good.

On the 9th, I went to a couple of sessions about internships, interviews and building your resume. I appreciated how they included these kinds of sessions at the conference, so that everything wasn’t only centered around journalism and reporters.

The other session I went to that day that ended up as my other favorite of the week was one called ‘why students of color aren’t reading your newspaper.’ The lady who presented was African American herself and gave a lot of personal information and opinions on the topic. In just a 50-minute session I came away with ideas on how to broaden our newspaper and be more inclusive in Marshall. She was great.

Right after the sessions ended on Thursday, the four of us went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) in Central Park. We walked there, which took about 45 minutes, but it was a highlight for each of us to walk through the park.

I specifically loved the museum, just because I am always amazed at the things that were made hundreds and thousands of years ago. At one point I was actually looking at a sacrifice table and realized that the dark brown discoloration was probably dried blood, so that was cool.

After the MET we headed to a comedy club. If you’re ever in NYC, I highly recommend The Comic Strip for entertainment (also check Groupon for discount tickets). It’s kind of a hole-in-the-wall place, but I was glad we had made it there. They had some great comedians.

The 10th was our last day at the conference, and there were only sessions from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. I went to one that was centered around finding out about your personality, and the other one I went to focused on how to grow your staff members. The keynote speaker was a commentary writer, so I connected with what she was saying.

Since the conference ended so early we spent the rest of the day traveling to see the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the 9/11 Memorial. Each of these locations were something that I had on my top list for seeing, and I wasn’t disappointed.

We also went and got my favorite food of the trip that day – edible cookie dough from a shop called Cookie Do Confections. I would take cookie dough over ice cream any day, so I knew I would love this place. It was just as good as the ice cream doughnut sandwich, and now I’m really wishing that we had both of these places in Minnesota.

Our time at the conference was great, I came back with a lot of notes and ideas. I loved exploring the area of NYC and seeing so much of what it had to offer. I would love to come back one day and see more, but I think the main reason I’d want to go back is just for the food.

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