“Don’t worry, you can still go to law school,” a fellow News-Letter copy reader told me, inspiring me to write my first article for the paper, a vindication of the often teased Writing Seminars major.
Since my freshman fall semester, I’ve written more meaningful pieces. I’ve explored the nuances of what it means to be gay and reflected on art’s ability to promote cultural awareness. More recently, I’ve reported on transphobia at the Hopkins School of Medicine and covered protests demanding an end to racial inequity in North Baltimore and here at Hopkins. Most importantly, I’ve contributed to something bigger than myself.
The News-Letter is the most important and meaningful thing I’ve done as a Hopkins student. It has allowed me to amplify student and community voices. It is my conduit (okay Minecraft vocab) to Hopkins and to the rest of Baltimore. It is my religion, and it is my boyfriend. And it can be yours too!
I’ve met some of my closest friends at The News-Letter (including my professional soulmate) — people who breathe caffeine and cortisol and spend countless hours crafting, as one colleague put it, the “first draft of history.” Through my reporting, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know students — leaders, artists and activists — who care about more than just papers and problem sets, who are passionate about making Hopkins and Baltimore and the world a better place.
I think I peaked last year when someone opened a Tinder conversation with “that was a spicy Spring Fair article.”
But don’t just join The News-Letter for 15 minutes of fame. Join for a link to the Hopkins community as you begin your first semester of college at home. Although you may be disconnected from campus, you can still play an integral role in student life.
Indeed, as we try to make sense of this confusing and chaotic time, student journalism is perhaps more important now than ever. We are privileged as an independent student newspaper — one of the nation’s oldest — with the ability to illuminate and immortalize the effects of the administration’s decisions during this pandemic. We aim to inform students and chronicle their experiences and concerns — to document the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on our daily lives.
In March, COVID-19 forced The News-Letter to become online-only. This fall, we are, for the first time, starting off the year without a print issue.
The paper’s founders in 1896 never could have imagined the virtual world we find ourselves in now. In The News-Letter’s 125th year, every one of us is living through history. Help us tell it.
I joined The News-Letter at the very beginning of my freshman year, and it’s the best thing that has happened to me at Hopkins.
When you begin your college career, there is no handbook for how to make friends or find a community. Some people make it look easy, seamlessly forging bonds that will last a lifetime. But, to be perfectly honest, I struggled. I spent my first few weeks missing my mom and desperately wanting to go home. I joined The News-Letter, not because of a newfound love for journalism, but simply as a way to meet people.
Looking back on all this now makes my heart hurt and my eyes misty. I wish I could go back in time to tell the frightened freshman version of myself, who sat silently in her first News & Features meeting, that by joining the paper, the entirety of my college experience was about to change.
I wish I could tell that girl, whose first article was almost entirely rewritten by the news team, that in three years she would become Editor-in-Chief alongside her professional soulmate (ily Rudy). I wish I could tell that girl, who was too awkward to strike up a conversation with another writer, that by joining The News-Letter, she would find her home at Hopkins.
They say that college is where you find yourself. In a sense, this is true. But, more importantly, college is where you learn how to put yourself out there, where you figure out how to deal with incredible failures and where you begin to understand that you’re never going to know everything about anything — including yourself.
Even though this year’s freshman class is not going to experience campus just yet, they’re still going to have to deal with the discomfort that accompanies change.
My message to the Class of 2024 is this: The News-Letter isn’t just an extracurricular to add to your resume or an opportunity to perfect your writing skills. The News-Letter is a community that is there to give you support, to expand your understanding of the role of journalism in our current climate and to annoyingly correct your grammar.
Just as importantly, The News-Letter brings you out of the bubble of college life and brings you back into reality. Hopkins students, myself included, have a remarkable way of forgetting that there’s a world outside of grades and stress and midterms. There are real problems all around us (no, grade deflation doesn’t count) and it is the responsibility of journalists to investigate and report on them. At The News-Letter, you begin to learn the ins and outs of both the University and Baltimore; I’ve learned more useful information from my reporting than from most of my courses.
I can’t go back in time to tell my freshman self that, by joining The News-Letter, my life was going to change for the better. But I can tell you. It doesn’t matter how well you write or how much experience you have — there is a place for everyone in the News-Letter family.