Name: Katherine Simeon
Year: Class 0f 2014
Hometown: Basking Ridge, NJ
Major: Cognitive Science
One of the more overwhelming events during Orientation would be the Student Activities Fair. Although the color-coded map may help, it does not completely alleviate the feeling of getting lost in a sea of tables and eager upperclassmen passing out fliers and urging you to sign their email list.
So after a couple hours of wandering around the recreation center, signing around 20 or so email lists and listening to a student talk about his organization for half an hour, there is still no chance to drop by the Quidditch Team’s table. And even after collecting enough fliers to feel like an orgo textbook is weighing down your arm, you do not know which of the five clubs meetings to attend that all happen to be next Monday at 7 p.m.
Fortunately, I’m going to make the answer easy for you: The News-Letter, Johns Hopkins’s student newspaper.
As a premier research university, many students come to Hopkins to become doctors (both M.D. and Ph.D.), to learn from Nobel Prize Winners, and to discover brilliant things. Many seem to forget about the publications that are not research journals –the News-Letter, the Black and Blue Jay (Hopkins’s humor magazine), Thoroughfare (one of multiple literary magazines on campus), and others– which make a significant contribution to campus life.
Joining The News-Letter was one of the most rewarding decisions I made during the first semester of my freshman year. Although I was relatively experienced with news publications and journalism during high school, The News-Letter pushed me into an entirely new atmosphere where I had a lot to learn. When doing my research for stories, I encountered some amazing organizations and people on campus that I might have neglected otherwise. By writing feature articles, I have seen the diversity of the great clubs on campus, from the Ultimate Frisbee team to S.E.E.D. (Students Educating and Empowering for Diversity). Through my interviews, I met a fellow student who is a national ping-pong star and a senior who just wrapped up her research as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow. I’ve had great conversations with professors from all different disciplines –from chemistry to policy studies. In fact, one of these professors will now be my advisor as I enter my sophomore year as a Cognitive Science major.
Working for a publication was a great break from stoichiometry and integrals. I receive valuable feedback from editors and fellow students that I have great respect for without having to worry about a grade. Plus, you do not need to be a writer to make a contribution. A strong publication requires work in art and photography, business and marketing, management, and technology –it is truly a multi-disciplinary activity and a team effort.
Through The News-Letter, I immersed myself in a new environment and embraced many different perspectives that I did not expect to find when I started college. I always hope that through my writing, I can give my readers a similar experience. Campus publications give great insight to what is going on at the university, both academically and socially. They reveal the interests, values, and opinions of the students. I realize that working in writing, art, marketing, and other aspects of a publication will not be of interest to everyone. But while you decide what clubs to join at the beginning of the school year (or, if you are a prospective student, wondering what to make of all the stops on the grand college road trip), perusing The JHU News-Letter –or any other campus publication for that matter– may prove to be helpful.