I hope you're all enjoying your Holiday break! As I am typing to you, my mother is cooking up a storm for our traditional Christmas Eve dinner, my sister just came through the door with an armful of packages, and as for me...well, I'm avoiding the last-minute cleaning and wrapping I have to do with a blog post! So, thanks for fueling my procrastination.
As most of you may know, I'm a Media Studies, Journalism and Digital Arts major at Saint Mike's. I have this belief: the longer the name, the cooler the major! If you're from the same school of thought, then nothing is better than MJD!
When I started the college search, I knew I was mostly interested in schools that offered a Journalism program. The thing about journalism, though, is that it's one of the fastest-growing and most changing fields of study. Modern technology has changed the way the media work. Journalists are no longer just writers; they are photographers, designers, editors, and web creators. What made SMC stand out for me was that our MJD department was taking this into consideration. Before I got to Saint Mike's, the major was known as "Journalism and Mass Communication". Then, the department revised its curriculum in order to allow more focus on much of the emerging technology and new skills that are needed to succeed in today's industry.
One really fascinating aspect of the MJD major is that we are not only learning how to use technology responsibly and effectively, but we are also learning how to analyze the ways in which new media may change the way we receive information and even alter the ways we view the world. There's no doubt that people are spending more time than ever indoors, that we now receive news and information mostly over the internet, and that so much screen time often leads to negative health effects. But, how do computers change the way our brains function? What does the impact of technology have to do with human interaction? With so many opposing views and thousands of outlets to receive news, how do we choose which source to trust? How have social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter changed the ways we interact with each other? These questions, among many others, are ones that all MJD majors will become familiar with and eventually answer in their own terms.
One of the ways we consider these questions is through a week-long "Tech Fast", a time each semester when students are encouraged to completely "unplug." We turn off our cell phones and ipods, write many assignments by hand, and stay away from computers--which, as a school that relies so heavily on email to keep students informed about happenings on campus, is an incredibly difficult task. This is all optional, of course, but most MJD majors take part in it as a way to fully comprehend our reliance on these tools. The tech fast always creates some awesome discussions in class, as all of the students get really pumped to share their experience.
|An inspirational message to MJD students on the door of a Bergeron computer lab.|
Of course, the curriculum wouldn't be much if the department didn't have an incredible staff of professors to teach it. Well, MJD majors present and future, you're in luck! The Saint Mike's MJD department employs several amazing journalists from various specific areas of interest. They have traveled the world, worked for an array of companies, taught at other prestigious schools across the country, and they've been published in all media forms. These professors are dedicated, too. I've spent a lot of time in Bergeron (the main academic building for MJD students...hopefully you'll like this tight-knit journalism community, because you'll practically live there!) and there are always professors around, in their offices, having meetings with students, and helping out in the classrooms. They work extremely hard to make themselves available for anything the students may need.
Another quick thing to tell you about the MJD major--this group of students and professors is truly a community. It's evident in the impromptu study sessions, the conversations that might last long after a class has ended, and the fact that you'll probably get to know every single person in the major. I remember a conversation I once had with a transfer student who commented on the competitiveness of her old school. She loved that at Saint Mike's, the students were "all in it together"--learning from each other and willing to help other students succeed. I can definitely relate to that. I love that these students are so talented, they're constantly pushing me to do better without even realizing it. But at the end of the day, we're simply trying to better ourselves, not outdo each other--which allows us to realize that we are truly each other's best resources. The camaraderie of the MJD department at Saint Mike's is likely to go unmatched at most other schools.
To see some student-run MJD work in action, check out the Defender, our weekly newspaper that covers all kinds of news and events on campus and around the Burlington area.
So, that was a LOT, and I feel like I've simply skimmed the surface. This is obviously a topic I'll constantly come back to on my blog, so I'll make the appropriate tags for you all to explore as I continue posting throughout my college experience. For now, I'll only say a few things about each of my minors:
The Environmental Studies minor (also offered as a major) at Saint Mike's is by far one of the coolest approaches I've seen to this interesting area of study. This has an interdisciplinary focus, looking at nature and the current issues in our environment from several perspectives. Not only do we study sciences like biology and ecology for a basic understanding of the way our earth functions, but we observe human interaction with nature over time by analyzing art, literature, philosophy, and even music. We look at famous environmental disasters and legal cases as well as modern issues that plague our world, including climate change, food insecurity and the global water crisis. The Intro to Environmental Studies class I took this year was extremely engaging, as four professors from different disciplines came together to teach a course that really opened my eyes to the world around me.
Creative Writing has been an absolute pleasure for me so far. I love to write, which is one of the main reasons I went to school for journalism. However, I often find that there's a lot of structure in journalistic writing, and sometimes it's necessary to stick to a certain format and of course remain objective (depending on who or what you're writing for, you can be more flexible with your writing, but traditional journalism might not always allow this). The Creative Writing minor is the perfect outlet for me--sometimes, I just want to write fiction! I've also found that my CW classes have strengthened me as a writer in general, and they often help me see my MJD major in a different way. CW has allowed me to explore different styles and techniques to find a way of writing that is uniquely me.
If you're interested in Creative Writing but you're not sure if you want it to be your minor, have no fear--there is a solution! You can practice and contribute to the CW community by submitting pieces to the Onion River Review, our campus literature and art publication. I'm an auxiliary editor for the review, which basically means that I get to read the submissions and meet up with the rest of the editors once or twice a year to help decide what to publish (it's so popular that unfortunately, there's not enough room for all of the submissions!) It's a really great way to get involved with people who share similar interests--there's also an open reading for poetry and other work about once a month on campus!
So, there you have it--a little look at why I love learning at Saint Mike's. Stay tuned for more major/minor information as well as the normal shenanigans! For my next few posts, I'm hoping to focus on some projects that I've done or contributed to in some way or another.
Again, Happy Holidays, and thanks for reading!