Staffer further explores interest in Boston
Updated: Sep 29
Brendan Sheehan | Associate Editor
From a young age, I had always taken an interest in conceptual writing— writing about the experience, sharing the stories of others and indulging in the world around me. As I get older, I learn there is only so much to see, feel and share in central Pennsylvania.
Expanding my abilities past the confining walls of my comfortable community has been a motif in my developmental life, it seems. Last year, I opened our first issue with a column about beginnings at a new school as a junior. As I had grown accustomed to a school that I love, what lied next for me in testing my ability to outreach?
This summer I got a head start on my journey, as I attended Boston University’s Summer Journalism Academy— a summer program of young, aspiring journalists from all over the world.
Working with other leaders in their passions, I was able to absorb the energy of like-minded people as we all explored a new city with extensive boundlessness. I made friends, fostered memories and acquired skills that I believe will last a lifetime.
The academy included two weeks of instructional classes, live newsroom and reporting for experienced editors of their student newspapers. My class consisted of only 9 people, and we grew closely-knit as a collaborative group.
My instructor was the whimsical Jan Brogan, an award-winning journalist for the Boston Globe, an investigative criminal essayist and a novelist who, let’s just say, knew dang-well what she was talking about. She stood high and wore sleek, chic dress with beautiful dewdrop gold jewelry, yet still was one of the most outward and insightful people I have ever met.
On our first day of class, she didn’t bother keeping us inside and lecturing us about the dos and don’ts of professional journalism. She had heard news of a local Starbucks going on strike, and immediately took the opportunity to send us to the scene.
Fully immersed in the real world of reporting, I got to talk to workers at the local Starbucks who had gone on strike due to mistreatment from their manager and alleged union-busting from their corporate. Connecting the lines and delving into the issue, I even got in contact with a Starbuck’s corporate representative to get an individualized statement that extended even farther than responses given to the Boston Globe. This became my first article.
On my third day of class, there were talks of an environmentalist group advocating in front of the Massachusetts state house for stricter bans on single-use plastics. Inspired by the outlandish concepts of what the protest would consist of, I ran to the scene with fellow reporters.
Once at the protest, I followed demonstrators to the Trader Joe’s corporate headquarters on Federal Street as they marched down in the high-90s that made up the weather for that day. I even got to go inside with them as they laid down several bags of Trader Joe’s trash inside of a modern office complex.
I even got to interview a German conceptual artist that performed at the end of the demonstration, exploring how art translates into activism. This article ended up being my designated published assignment.
The full article can be found under my name on the Boston University Terrier, BU’s student newspaper.
Besides having an insane amount of fun, this program taught me several different components of writing and life.
I learned that journalism is the eyes and the ears, and writing is the body. Without a body, you could see and hear everything, but have no legs to take you anywhere else. Without eyes and ears, you can go wherever you want, but will never truly describe the sensory would around you.
While the most appeasing writing comes from flowery diction, adverbial transitions and intense imagery, the best, most impactful writing comes from the ability to document raw, blunt information—in formats and ways some English teachers warn against.
I also learned the value my job as a student reporter—to represent students, teachers and administrators that create the prosperous environment we all contribute to every day.
It is fundamental that we all take the opportunity to explore our passions with people from all over, in places that you have never been before. By taking risks and pushing our limits, I was able to build fundamental aspects that will carry on for a lifetime.