Journalism class helped transfer student feel more comfortable

I have always been enamored with the idea of college being this formative time that would inspire and lead me towards my future.

Last August was my first semester as a transfer student from Macomb Community College to the University of Detroit Mercy.

I enrolled in a class called “News Writing” and assumed it would focus on the structures of articles, similar to how most writing classes are. To my surprise, the class required us to conduct in-person interviews with students, professors, staff and Detroit residents.

As a new student, I was anxious about the interviews. I wanted to make sure that I asked the right questions and was able to structure my articles around them.

The first article I wrote last semester was about the 17th Great Lakes Bioneers conference that was held at the university.

The conference acted as a collaborative opportunity to solve critical environmental issues in areas of Detroit where the needs of people were not met. Prior to writing the article, I had no idea on the efforts made towards sustainable living in Detroit.

I interviewed Gail Presbey, a professor of philosophy who served as a co-chair for the conference. Before an interview, we learned in class that we should gather back- ground information on the person we are planning to speak with in order to understand what role they play in the event.

While doing my research on Presbey, I found out that she was not only a part of the Bioneers conference, but that she had received a six-month Fulbright research grant in Pune, India, that was hosted by the World Peace Center where she studied Gandian non-violence.

In addition to her Fulbright experience in India, Presbey received a two-year Fulbright Senior Scholar Position in the University of Nairobi, Kenya, where she did research on sage philosophy.

It inspired me that a professor at my university had such unique experiences on a global scale. I was excited to ask her about the progress towards sustainability that the conference showcased.

Although I was nervous at first, after the interview, I felt her empathy towards Detroit residents, and why the mission of the conference was important to her.

I learned that I wasn’t just interviewing people to get a good grade; I actually enjoyed asking thoughtful questions to professionals who were dedicated to the university’s mission.

I realized that there might be a person walking past me in the hall that has something fascinating about them that I would never know if I didn’t ask.

While I can’t recommend every student switch their major or write for The Varsity News, I can suggest that if you are new to the University of Detroit Mercy, whether as a transfer or freshman, being interested in those around you is a great way to feel comfortable in your environment.

The interviews I needed to have for class became less of an assignment, and more of an enjoyable experience that inspired me for my future in journalism. Structure and editing were an afterthought to the interesting stories that happened every day on campus. I would not have had the same opportunities to meet the fascinating people I did if it wasn’t for “News Writing.”

After my first interview, I didn’t feel like a transfer student for very long. I felt like I was not only a part of the university, but the community as well.