When I came to college, I really had no interest in pursuing anything within the realm of journalism. I’d already written for the school paper in high school, had a shaky experience, and really felt generally burned out and disinterested by the practice as a whole.
Anyone who knows me, however, knows that I am nothing if not a walking contradiction and I will change my mind about 17 things all before eating breakfast in the morning, so really, it should have come as no surprise to anyone that I found myself at The Quad’s involvement fair booth on that hot day in August during the first semester of my freshman year, picking up a flier and secretly thinking about getting involved.
I remember going back to my dorm room and hemming and hawing about whether or not this was something I actually wanted to commit myself to. Upon reaching out to the Opinion Editorial editor at the time, I realized it wasn’t something I necessarily *needed* to commit to, it was just something I could do whenever I felt like it. And so with that, I began writing my very first piece for The Quad, an Op-Ed which had to do with sexual violence on college campuses.
But again, anyone who knows me knows that I can never do anything halfheartedly, and that I’m either in it 100% or not at all. This type of behavior led me to turning my first article into an ongoing column relating to women’s and gender issues at West Chester University.
From there, I declared my minor in journalism, worked my way up from staff writer, to Op-Ed editor, and now finally Managing Editor in my senior year. I’ve written for every single edition of The Quad since that very first week of my first semester as a freshman, and as graduation looms a mere three weeks away, I am finding myself reflecting on the practice I have come to know and love.
While I cannot say for sure where the world of journalism is going, much less where I am going once I graduate in a matter of days, I can say for certain that my relationship to journalism has changed me in more profound ways than I could probably ever manage to get down on paper, and that there is a value to this work that deserves to be recognized.
Journalism isn’t for the faint of heart. It is for those who care and worry and want to make the world a better place. It is for those who are willing to stand in the rain, in the cold, in the heat, gathering stories from different communities and working diligently to make sure power is mediated and voices are heard. I have had the utmost pleasure of meeting and working with so many writers over the years who have embodied these values fully, and I have learned more than I ever thought possible — both from other writers and from the people I’ve been able to speak to and come to know through sharing their stories.
A true journalist seeks to make the world a better place through their writing — their art. They become ingrained in the stories of their subjects and utilize the written word and the freedom of press to cultivate change, create awareness and challenge the status quo.
Being a journalist is never, and will never necessarily be an easy thing to do. However, there are so many brave people willing to do it, and countless, equally brave people waiting to have their stories told by those who have taken on the power of the pen.
To those who have always considered using their writing as a means for progress, there is no better way to do that than with journalism. The knowledge I have gained and the people I have been honored to work with here have given me an invaluable experience and the understanding that words are, in fact, one of the most powerful tools we are given when trying to change the world.
I want to thank everyone who has worked at The Quad, Dr. Kuebrich, Dr. Rodriguez and all of the people at West Chester University who have helped me come to this place in my writing career and who have given me the space to practice and grow into such an incredible field.
Four years of learning all about this has gone by in the blink of an eye, and somehow I am here, finishing this journey in the exact same way I started it: with an Op-Ed.
Ali Kochik is a fourth-year English major with minors in Journalism and Women’s & Gender Studies. AK908461@wcupa.edu