Oh hey Nostalgia, nice of you to drop by.

So I made the mistake of going back and reading selective blog posts from the past three-odd years. Why a mistake? because now I can see, more than ever, how much my life has changed since I started this blog during my freshman year of college. And now, more than ever, I feel the imminent despair that one feels when one realizes one’s friends will soon be leaving a cozy college campus for lives in the “real world.”

Needless to say, I’m trying not to dwell on it.

But one post in particular caught my eye. It was from the second semester of my freshman year when I was enrolled in J2100 New Writing and just starting to dip my toes into the cold, rushing waters of reporting in Columbia (how’s that for a bad cliché?). I wrote about how odd it was to shift my news-consuming from a Chicago focus to a Columbia one, and how I felt so out of touch with the community.

Fast forward five semesters, and I can safely say that’s no longer an issue. Congratulations Columbia Missourian, you did your job! I am comfortable talking to strangers, interviewing just about anyone and turning a pile of notes ‘n quotes into a coherent story. I can editengage and report with (some) of the best of them. Mission accomplished.

It seems so foreign that I once felt fear and intimidation at the thought of going out into this community and trying to do journalism. Now, it feels like home. Granted, a smaller version of home with a much more horrible mall, but home nonetheless.

Six weeks into my last semester as an undergrad, I’m in my last reporting class for the Missourian. So far, I’ve reported a centerpiece about a new Montessori preschool for Grant Elementary School. It wasn’t the most difficult reporting I’ve done, but it was a foray into some of my goals for this semester:

  • Dig deeper:  I want to focus on depth, not breadth. I want to do is spend more time with sources and subjects and try to let my reporting find the story instead of my story finding the reporting.
  • Details, Details, Details: I want to try to pay more attention to what’s around me and observe so I can add those details to make my reporting come more alive. I need to remind myself to look, take better more specific notes on what I see, hear, smell and feel.
  • Write stronger nut grafs:  I want to take the time to write more cohesive, complete and concise nut grafs, and I want to nail them more often than not.
  • Use more dialogue: Dialogue has that way of making an article feel like a narrative. It gives a much more intimate look at the characters in a story.
  • Focus on learning: I want to explore how we learn, why we learn the way we do, how teachers and schools manage and support different learning styles, and why there is pressure sometimes to learn in a certain way at a certain level.

I’ve spent three semesters at the Missourian honing my skills as a reporter, editor and beat writer. This semester, I’m trying hard to really challenge my reporting and storytelling and dissect my experience as an advanced reporter along the way. In two months and two weeks, I’ll be graduating, and though I’m sticking around for graduate school, it’s still a bit overwhelming.

As much as I’ve learned and grown up until this point, I feel like I still have so much left to learn and do before I walk across the stage in Jesse Hall. Three-and-a-half years really flew by. Thanks, Nostalgia, for this nice Monday night interlude.

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