On April 18, 2021, hundreds of Minnesota State Mankato students and faculty, as well as nearby community members, gathered in lot 23 and began marching en masse down Stadium Road toward campus. I was there, too. Why? In the days leading up to April 18, dozens of Asians across the country were victimized by hate crimes. And closer to home, a black man named Daunte Wright was killed by police in Brooklyn Park.
A protest was planned on campus and I, being a new staff member at the student newspaper, volunteered to cover it.
The group gathered outside the student union where a stage was set up for those wanting to share their experiences and bring awareness to the social issues prominent at that time.
Some came to merely bear witness. Some came with homemade signs promoting peace. Some came to cry. Some came to scream. I saw people of all ages: babies in strollers, older folks with walkers. Teenagers wondering what to do.
One young woman I vividly remember held a sign that read, “Dump your racist boyfriend”.
As a first-year student journalist with basically zero training, I had my notes app open, feverishly writing down what was happening and recording as much as I could. It was overwhelming and exhilarating.
At one point I was even approached by a woman who asked me if I would like to speak on behalf of the Asian community. I declined, of course, due to my conflict of interest as I was writing an article about this event for the newspaper.
One thing I’ll never forget about that day is this: I knew at that moment that, whatever story I came up with, it wasn’t about me. Someone had to share this story, and I had the opportunity to share this moment with the world which ultimately pushed me to chase this career.
As this story illustrates, at The Reporter you just get thrown into the fire. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was the best way to learn, and when the pressure is on, I’m capable of more than I thought possible.
This method worked. It landed me a professional broadcast journalism job and acceptance into a European journalism program this summer in Prague.
Joining The Reporter during my first month of college back in August 2020 was a crazy time. Not only was it the height of the pandemic, but also was the height of news. I couldn’t believe nobody wanted to share and report these stories.
The slogan we have at MSU is “Big Ideas, real-world thinking”. I cannot think of an experience that illustrates it better than mine.
My first year here was during the fall of 2020. There were few in-person events, and it was hard to make friends. I knew I wanted to make the most out of my time here, and I had to change my mindset.
As a freshman, I didn’t anticipate that the newspaper was going to be the best place to learn about the history and culture of Minnesota State Mankato.
Whether it’s recapping The Mavericks’ biggest wins, sharing stories of international students, reporting what our student government advocates for, or covering marches to bring awareness to social issues — I got a front-row seat when it came to witnessing the inspiring and impactful things our Maverick family accomplished. Sharing other people’s stories has been a privilege.
However, they don’t tell you that when you decide to become a journalist you have to learn to think quickly. There have been many times during my first year when I made mistakes. Whether it was spelling someone’s name wrong, going into interviews unprepared, or mistaking the campus mall for the River Hills Mall.
I would say your first year as a journalist is oddly similar to the college experience. You go in sometimes unprepared, you mess up, learn from it and then move on. This ultimately makes you a better student, or “journalist”.
I’ve met many people during my three years here and I am happy to have had the honor to share so many important stories.
I’d like to thank every one of my colleagues at The Reporter who’ve turned into lifelong friends and the faculty that supported us. I’d also like to thank my friends and family who’ve helped me along the way and helped me achieve my dreams and motivated me to dream big.
Although my time at The Reporter ends here, your stories don’t. So whatever comes next, do not stop sharing your stories. Whether someone is covering them or not. Your story matters.
(Courtesy of Julia Lin)
Write to Julia Lin at email@example.com