Reflecting on My Year at Newhouse  

Thinking back, I can vividly remember how I tried to prepare for what my year at Newhouse would look like…especially boot camp! I asked my program director and a current MND student so many questions as I really wanted to know what I was walking into. I’ll admit, I like having a plan for everything, but one thing graduate school has taught me is that not everything will go according to plan. I’ve come to learn that it’s okay because I’ve had the opportunity to have so many amazing experiences that I could have never planned for!  

a person standing on a rooftop that overlooks a city
Sarah Merke

For starters, the friends I’ve met at Newhouse have been unbelievable. In such a short amount of time, I have created long-lasting friendships. The community of your friends and your cohort is so crucial in a fast-paced program that includes so many late nights. I still remember my cohort helping one another out during man-on-the-street interviews in the summer or the night we all got together in the library to complete our Data Journalism final (what a class!)  

Through my friends, I’ve learned the importance of self-care and creating a work-life balance in grad school. It’s not always easy but a simple trip to the movies or a walk in the park can make all the difference. Together, my friends and I have explored so many of Syracuse’s shops, bakeries and restaurants (I recommend Secret Garden for sushi, and Cake Bar for lattes, desserts and a great atmosphere to hang out or do homework). Last October, we took a trip to Philadelphia to see one of our favorite artists in concert which was a great way for us to bond outside of school. I also had the opportunity to go to Puerto Rico during winter break with my friend who is from the island. I could have never planned this experience, but I am so grateful she invited me, and that I was able to travel to such a beautiful place and make memories that I will never forget.   

a line of people in graduation caps and gowns with their backs to the camera
Emmanuel Offei via Unsplash

During my time at Newhouse, I also appeared on a trivia game show on  Orange Television Network. This was a fun and new experience to be on set and “compete” against a friend of mine. I’ve also had the chance to write music reviews for magazines on campus and intern as a life and culture reporter for the local newspaper syracuse.com. In both my internship and classes at Newhouse, I have had the opportunity to go out in the Syracuse community to not only tell stories but also create relationships with so many inspiring community members who are committed to making a difference. During the fall semester, I wrote enterprise news articles centered around Black health in Syracuse under the guidance of Professor Greg Munno who has been one of the best professors I have been so fortunate to work with and learn from.   

This summer, I will head to Charleston, South Carolina, where I will be covering the Spoleto Festival USA. I look forward to building more memories with members of my cohort as well as classmates from the Goldring arts journalism and communications cohort.  

With my year at Newhouse slowly coming to an end, I can look back and treasure the memories I have made, the people I have met and the skills I have gained along the way.  

Sarah Merke is a graduate student in the magazine, news and digital journalism program at the Newhouse School.

3 Lessons Learned as an International Student at Newhouse 

Jiaqi Jin headshot
Jiaqi Jin

As an international student studying abroad for the first time, attending Newhouse is a wonderful opportunity to broaden my horizons and acquire new knowledge. However, cultural differences also present special challenges. For prospective international students at Newhouse, I would like to share three lessons I learned over the past few months, hoping to smooth your transition into academic life here.

1. Carefully read the instructions and policies 

For pre-arrival preparations, ensure you read all instructions and key documents thoroughly, especially regarding visa, I-20, health records and other necessary documents. These are crucial for your entry into the United States, official enrollment and daily activities. For instance, when traveling abroad during breaks, you need to carry an I-20 with a travel signature to avoid issues at customs. Notifications from the University or orientation sessions for international students often cover these topics. Therefore, from the beginning of enrollment, read notices carefully, make preparations early and stay informed to ease your start at Newhouse. 

It is also a clever idea to familiarize yourselves with the syllabus for your academic career. Read the syllabus for every course you select at Newhouse carefully. Professors outline their expected learning objectives, assignment requirements and grading policies here. Careful reading of these will help you grasp the course content, achieve academic success and boost personal growth efficiently throughout the semester.  

2. Embracing cultural differences 

Cultural differences manifest in various situations, from classroom discussions to everyday interactions on campus. For example, in communication courses at Newhouse, classmates may react differently to the same events due to diverse backgrounds. These moments can be disorienting but also offer opportunities to understand and adapt to different perspectives. 

To navigate cultural differences, I have learned about, express and acknowledge them. Firstly, proactively engaging with international student groups and classmates enriches our understanding of varying cultures. Secondly, expressing our feelings and perspectives in unfamiliar situations fosters mutual understanding and reduces misunderstandings. Lastly, acknowledging and accepting cultural differences as neither superior nor inferior allows us to appreciate the diversity around us. 

3. Do not fear asking for help 

Despite our best efforts, we are unable to resolve problems on our own at times. My experience at Newhouse taught me the importance of seeking assistance, often leading to unexpectedly helpful outcomes. During the past semester, I got a lot of support through office hours with professors. Talking about the message missed in the course or the uncertainty about my future career, professors always generously provided support and shared their views with me. Similarly, you can also seek help from various resources in the school. I would reach out to the career development center to help check my resume before an interview. As a non-native English speaker, I can always get valuable advice from those around me. 

Even off campus, it was easier than I expected to be supported when I asked for help. Whether it is online shopping, renting, account rituals, through an email, a phone call, or a walk-in visit, things may be resolved quickly. When you encounter difficulties in life, please believe that you are cared for and supported, and do not hesitate to ask others for help. 

Studying far from home as an international student is challenging but also thrilling and rewarding. While we face many unknowns, the journey at Newhouse is filled with opportunities for learning and growth. Embrace this journey with an open heart and mind, and I promise it will be a transformative and treasurable experience. 

Jiaqi Jin is a graduate student in the advanced media management program at the Newhouse School.

How the Year Has Prepared Me for My Capstone 

The world of “arts communications” felt so unfamiliar to me at the start of this year. I’ve spent such a large portion of my life dreaming of being a critic. First it was food, then it was film, and then I moved into theatre and the general world of art. I’ve always known these careers existed, so I knew I had something to look forward to. 

a person stands in front of a red stone building on Syracuse University's campus
Gloria Rivera

As I became older, I started to hear phrases like “art needs more funding,” or “theater is dying” and, of course, the moniker of the “starving artist.” How could theatre be dying? Isn’t it centuries old? As a society we consume so much media that we’ve quite literally left some forms of live art in the dust. Still, I believe there’s a space for adaptation, growth and better resources to allow the performing arts to be in our future. 

The Spoleto Festival USA is an arts festival in Charleston, South Carolina that is currently in its 48th season. Nearly five successful decades of live art is a feat, and this festival happens to be my capstone. Traditionally, Goldring students have been assigned as reporters for this festival. We make our way to Charleston for three weeks and write previews, reviews and attend shows, immersing ourselves in the culture of Spoleto. This year a handful of us have the opportunity to work directly with the festival as communications interns, advocating for and writing about the work and artists featured in this year’s lineup. 

I’m immensely excited to work with this team because I finally have the opportunity to be in a space that is firsthand advocating for the arts. If we can continue to prove the value of this work, enhance its relevance and show people what the arts are made of, then we can continue creating this work. As a communicator it’s important to think deeply about the impact of your specified field. Of course, in the immediate sense, like for example, a three-week festival in South Carolina, but also in the zeitgeist of the performing arts in the 21st century.  

animated image of a stage and audience with palm trees behind the stage
Graphic created by Gloria Rivera using Canva

Overall, I’m most grateful to close out my time at Newhouse with an internship in this field. I’ll be working on media requests from journalists, itineraries for guests, blog posts for the website and a variety of other PR and marketing efforts inside of the festival’s offices. It’s a great opportunity that encompasses the myriad of skills I’ve acquired over the course of my year, and I have no doubt that it’ll further my knowledge of this world I’m entering. 

Gloria Rivera is a graduate student in the Goldring arts journalism and communications program at the Newhouse School.

Staying Connected Near and Far

For most of our lives, making friends has been rooted in location. As students we make friends with classmates, neighbors and roommates. What happens when the shared place is no longer? Can these relationships continue through inevitable change? Adults face these questions through the journey from education to careers.  

As my graduate program ends, I wrestle with these new realities. I’ve always been afraid of change, especially when a new environment comes with it. I drag my feet at first, longing for the old ways and staying closed off. My college advisor told me that I’d meet my best friends while getting my master’s degree, and I never believed her. I was wrong, because nothing bonds more than going through an intensive program side by side. We may not always live, work and study in the same place ever again.  

three people stand in a hallway
Alex Caban-Echevarria’s friends and classmates stand in Newhouse 3. (Photo courtesy of Alex Caban-Echevarria)

For now, and always, I can remember every time we hunkered down in a booth in Food.com to do homework or take a break between classes, how we’ve walked, drove and took the bus together across campus, and every time we relaxed by watching “Twilight” or “Gilmore Girls” in one of our apartments.  

When I first got to Syracuse, I kept in touch with my friends from home and created a group chat with my college friends. This was meant to bridge the newfound gap we found after graduation and to decide what deems a “mass text” or not.  I was fortunate enough to live and go to college in the same town. On academic break, I saw my friends who came home, and when they went back to their schools, my friends from school came back from their homes. We had a home base to be there for us through the years.  

As I think about how I’ll be leaving Syracuse behind in a few weeks, I wonder where the new home base will be for the friends who I met here. How do we stay in touch when the group chats begin to fade, the events we have in common are no longer and our careers take precedence over fun? I’m going to prioritize these friends who have supported me in the hardest year of my life by committing to them through lessons I’ve only learned from them. 

Firstly, to never be afraid to ask for help. Reaching out to someone, no matter how long it’s been since you last talked, is harder than it sounds. All relationships are two-way streets, and as long as you try your best, you can’t regret any effort you put in. 

Secondly, to not judge someone for their feelings. Opening up and being honest is the first step to strengthening these bonds. When someone trusts you, you listen, and learn to understand them. Honesty and trust are the only ways to get to know each other, and judgment only violates that sincerity. 

Thirdly, to try even when it gets hard. No matter the distance, there are always ways to stay in touch. Something like a shared memory, a photo or memento, or planning the next adventure can strengthen and help friendships bend to a new phase of life. 

Alex Caban-Echevarria is a graduate student in the magazine, news and digital journalism program at the Newhouse School.

The Beauty of an Immersion Program

two people embrace each other while sitting on a couch on the set of the tv show "Friends"
Gloria Rivera (left) with fellow Goldring arts journalism and communications student Jeannie Jedlicka during the L.A. immersion trip. Photo courtesy of Gloria Rivera.

During my time here, I’ve attended three immersion trips. The first was a weekend trip to Toronto, the second was a week in New York City and the third was a week in Los Angeles. Two of these trips were worked into my program, so they were luckily part of my curriculum and made attending an easy “choice.” The other was an immersion trip I took with the public relations department, and I had to decide if I wanted to use elective credits, which in the words of my director “are prime real estate,” as well as spend the money, and devote my spring break to a school trip. Here are three reasons why I’m happy with my decision:

The first is maybe obvious, I’m grateful to get to see new places. I had never been to Toronto, and we went in September during the Toronto International Film Festival. It was exciting, filled with people and we got to do SO much. New York City is my hometown, and yet I rarely go to see Broadway shows or visit museums, so the chance to re-explore my city was both exciting and a nice chance to fall back in love with my city. And the last time I’d been to Los Angeles was a brief family trip while I was in high school, so I had no real concept of the city or what it had to offer. The chance to go to these places with a set agenda allowed me to see more of what life looks like in these areas and get an idea of the possibilities available to me post-grad. 

Another reason was a chance to bond with folks that are in my own or other programs. We do get to spend time with our peers in many ways, but there’s not much time to travel for fun in a year-long program. A lot of my weekends are filled with work or projects, so when I have a chance to explore it’s usually around Syracuse. So, taking advantage of going somewhere felt a little like a cheat code to explore a new place with friends.  

Lastly, the chance to explore new programs allowed me a peek into a variety of positions within the communications field. One of my favorite parts of my Newhouse career has been the opportunity to grow in my craft while not limiting myself to only one field. Working on press releases, presentations and meeting industry professionals allowed me insight into what it may look like to pivot and which of my skills are transferable between industries. 

Overall, if you have the chance to visit a new place and learn new things, do it now! 

Gloria Rivera is a graduate student in the Goldring arts journalism and communications program at the Newhouse School.

Grad School is Unexpected  

a person stands in front of the Newhouse School
Caban-Echevarria stands in front of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications in July.  
(Photo courtesy of Alex Caban-Echevarria)

Grad school is unexpected. When I came to Syracuse, I had never lived away from home. Having gone to college three blocks away from my house, I didn’t have to worry about paying for laundry or missing my bed, because I could go home whenever I wanted and still be near my classes. It was the best of both worlds – being independent and having that safety net. I quickly realized that it’s a lot of responsibility to take care of myself, stay on top of my school work, have two jobs, keep in touch with my friends and visit my family as much as I can. I’ve learned so much about myself, like how I like going to bed early and waking up early, especially with the reward of a beautiful sunrise. I’m okay with spending time by myself, especially if I get to catch up on my favorite shows and reading books. 

Grad school is living in Syracuse for four months and still feeling like every day is brand new. During bootcamp, the magazine, news and digital program had a vey regimented schedule. I would get on the bus at 8:04 every morning and come to Newhouse for class. We’d have a lunch break between 12 and 1 p.m., and resume class for the next four hours. On Mondays and Tuesdays we had the same class and Thursdays and Fridays we’d have another. Wednesdays came with a much needed end time earlier than 5 p.m. We did this for six weeks, yet every day we learned something new, we pitched a new idea or revised existing stories. On the weekends, I’d go to the gym, sleep in or explore nature, especially Green Lakes State Park. For one of my stories, I even attended Shakespeare in the Park’s production of “West Side Story.” 

Grad school is setting 100 alarms a day. I came to Newhouse thinking I was really organized and had everything figured out. I had that only partially wrong, because I just got more creative with my organizational methods. Now, well into my second semester, I’m fully reliant on doing what my alarms tell me to do, whether that be to get out of bed or leave for class. I have perfectly timed alarms in anticipation that I’m going to snooze them, especially the one that tells me to get out of bed. People told me to prepare for the seasonal depression, but it wasn’t until our first break was in sight that I realized how much I needed it. Most of our professors have noticed the burnout creeping in, and are attuned to when we are stressed and look like we haven’t slept. 

Grad school is having friends even when I said I wasn’t going to make any. I thought being in journalism school meant that I would be surrounded by my competition, but the more time I spend with my cohort, I realize that I have nothing to be worried about. My cohort is made up of my friends and people who understand me more than anything. Everytime we share our work in class or someone gets published, it’s a shared moment of joy. 

Grad school is full of surprises, and I’m just along for the ride. 

Alex Caban-Echevarria is a graduate student in the magazine, news and digital journalism program at the Newhouse School.

How to be More Sustainable in Newhouse

Alex Caban-Echevarria headshot
Alex Caban-Echevarria

As graduate students, many of us have very busy schedules. Sometimes being crunched for time means breezing past small decisions. Part of being sustainable is being mindful of the choices you make. To be more sustainable in Newhouse, notice these four things you can reduce, reuse or recycle. 

Single-use plastic: If you’re buying plastic water bottles, save money by investing in a water bottle and filter pitcher. Although it may seem like something that’s too trendy and something else to worry about, carrying a reusable bottle will become a habit. An initial investment of $30 could save hundreds over months. 

Printing: Whether required for a class assignment or to help with reading, before printing an excessive amount, decide whether there is a more sustainable way to get a hard copy of something. Does a classmate have a printed copy of the reading you could borrow? Is the article or chapter from a book in the library? Can you ask your professor if they have a copy or if the assignment needs to be handed in physically? While we have printing money, we don’t get penalized for not using it. 

Taking notes on paper: Buying and starting new notebooks at the beginning of the semester is satisfying, but is there another way to take handwritten notes? Whether it be finishing a notebook from last year or using your laptop or tablet if the class allows, repurposing already existing paper can help to reduce waste. Like digitally handing in assignments, seeing if an e-textbook is available can be another sustainable swap. 

a reusable water bottle
A reusable water bottle. (Photo by Alex Caban-Echevarria)

Food waste: Whether packing or buying food, reducing, reusing or recycling plastic wrap or uneaten food is something anyone can do. If you pack lunch, consider using reusable containers. If you pack lunch and end up buying something or not eating it, you can also use those containers to save it for later. 

Remember that small choices add up and big changes can influence everything you do. Sustainability is for everyone, even busy graduate students. By valuing the resources you have, you end up saving money in the long run. Asking yourself whether something is necessary or if there is an alternative way will impact every aspect of your life, not just for being sustainable. Creative solutions are out there; you just have to look for them! 

Alex Caban-Echevarria is a graduate student in the magazine, news and digital journalism program at the Newhouse School.

The Intersection of AI and Academic Integrity  

Alex Caban-Echevarria headshot
Alex Caban-Echevarria

There are many ways to use OpenAI’s ChatGPT tool, including fixing code, checking the tone in an email and generating images. Over the past year, ChatGPT has become a prevalent learning tool with upsides and downsides, like any new technology. 

I first heard about ChatGPT this summer, while taking Data Journalism with Dan Pacheco, a professor of practice. We were shown how to ask ChatGPT to detect mistakes while writing HTML code and how Pacheco generated an AI-generated cover design for his new book. Pacheco and many other professors agree that when used correctly, AI can be a powerful brainstorming tool. 

In my Graphic Design Fundamentals class, adjunct professor D. Addison Spears encouraged the use of ChatGPT to write our magazine cover lines and body copy. We could then customize it and use it instead of the standard Lorem Ipsum placeholder text in InDesign. This showed us the benefit of using ChatGPT as a starting point, especially when as a designer you want keywords or pull quotes to have more visual weight. 

Since discovering these avenues for enhancing my creativity, I have used ChatGPT to brainstorm names for my beat in Enterprise Reporting, the title of my documentary in Multimedia Storytelling for Journalists and come up with the name of my first Newhouse Insider blog post “My Spring Elective Journey.” 

More recently, I have seen other students use ChatGPT more, especially as a search engine to answer their questions about readings or class topics. As a tutor and instructional assistant, I work with undergraduates every day, and this got me wondering about the prevalence of ChatGPT in higher education. As students becoming more comfortable with advanced technology like AI in their studies, how can the pros offset the cons? 

an aisle of books in a library
Photo by Alex Caban-Echevarria

Professors this academic year have begun to address the issue of academic integrity regarding ChatGPT. One of my syllabi has a note that reads: “Any undisclosed or unapproved use of AI technology as a tool to supplement or replace your work on any class assignment will be considered a violation of intellectual integrity.” This statement highlights the deceit that comes with using ChatGPT, especially when students try to pass off work as their own, which is unfair to their classmates who have taken the time to write their assignments, and themselves to get out of a learning experience.  

I’ve heard some students say that their classmates all write their papers with ChatGPT. I’ve observed students on the bus who copy and paste full conversations they’ve had with ChatGPT into a Word document. Whether these instances are all academic violations depends on the context, but the warning is clear — with great power comes great responsibility. 

Alex Caban-Echevarria is a graduate student in the magazine, news and digital journalism program at the Newhouse School.

Reflecting on the Empire State Winter Games Experience  

Most people who know me would not describe me as a person who is fully invested in sports. I wouldn’t even say I enjoy many sports, bar rugby, curling and badminton. Admittedly, it’s a unique mix for a student who goes to a school known for football and basketball. All that being said, it is a concerted effort to not be in proximity to something sports related at Syracuse University, even more so if you are a Newhouse student, and even more so if you are a photography student.

Surya Vaidy headshot
Surya Vaidy

Pop into any photography class and you’ll find at least one person who has photographed a sports event during their time here at the university. I myself have photographed a number of sports, despite my lack of interest.  

Sports photography, in my experience, can be boiled down to two things: getting good coverage of the game and finding those special moments — you know, photographing the game winning shot and the team piling on the player who made it. Sports photography demands that the photographer is always paying attention, or they’ll miss the shot. Doing so in a professional setting, working for a publication or a team, may result in some tough conversations at best. At worst… well, there could be some issues.

Here at the university level, photography students interested in sports are offered a safety net, a space to hone their craft in a way that preps them to work in the industry. To me, the Empire State Winter Games trip (and other experiences, internships, etc.) is a part of that learning space. Made up of a group of photographers, videographers, public relations and broadcast students, alongside Newhouse professors Jon Glass, Seth Gitner, and Jordan Kilgerman, the Newhouse crew drove up to Lake Placid, New York to help cover the sports and social events of the 2024 Games.  

It was an absolute rush. Three days of hustling to the assigned venues, photographing the events and matches, filing images, editing your takes down, presenting for critique, and then submitting your images. We started our days early, ended late and got up again to do it the next day. For those of us on the trip who were interested in getting further into the sports photography field, it was clearly an invaluable experience. The routine and process of working such events opens the eyes to what is expected of professionals. For those of us who were not so inclined to work in sports — and I include myself in this category — it was equally invaluable.

a graphic of two skiers on a mountain
Image created by Surya Vaidy using Adobe Firefly

As photography students, it’s important that we are learning as much about the craft as possible because the industry demands that we be able to fill any niche as visual communicators. Setting aside practicing finding the moment and reportage, the Empire Winter Games trip is something we can cite in the future as evidence of our training and experience as visual communicators. It’s proof that those of us who want to be involved in sports are dedicated to doing the work well, and for those of us who aren’t focused on sports, it’s proof that we are just as capable of shooting a sports event as we are our chosen topics. If in the future you (yes, you the reader) get the opportunity to go out of your comfort zone to learn: take it. Believe me, it’ll be worth it.

Surya Vaidy is a student in the multimedia, photography and design master’s program at the Newhouse School.

Strategies for Thriving as a Student of Color in Newhouse

Navigating Newhouse as a student of color can present unique challenges, often requiring resilience, adaptability and a strategic approach to thrive amidst potential barriers. In institutions like Newhouse, where diversity may not always be as prominent, students of color can face feelings of isolation, imposter syndrome and cultural alienation. However, by implementing various strategies, fostering relationships and breaking down barriers, students of color can not only survive but also thrive in such environments. 

Jalyss Agosto headshot
Jalyss Agosto

First establishing a strong support network is essential. This can include seeking out mentors, peers and faculty members who understand and support the experiences of students of color. These individuals can offer guidance, validation and advocacy within the institution, helping to deal with feelings of isolation and providing valuable resources for academic and personal success. 

In addition, it’s crucial for students of color to actively engage with the broader community, both within and outside the institution. Participating in student organizations, affinity groups and cultural events that are within Newhouse can foster a sense of belonging and connection to one’s identity, while also providing opportunities for networking and professional development. Additionally, involvement in community outreach and advocacy efforts can empower students to address systemic inequities and effect positive change within their educational environment. 

Breaking down barriers in predominantly white spaces often requires proactive efforts to challenge stereotypes, biases and discriminatory practices. This can involve advocating for inclusive policies and representation, speaking out against microaggressions and discriminatory behavior and actively promoting diversity and equity initiatives within the institution. By amplifying marginalized voices and perspectives, students of color can contribute to creating a more inclusive and equitable environment for themselves and future generations. 

Building meaningful relationships across cultural and racial lines is also essential for fostering understanding, empathy and collaboration within Newhouse. This can involve initiating open and honest dialogue, actively listening to diverse perspectives, and seeking common ground based on shared values and experiences. By building bridges of empathy and solidarity, students of color can cultivate a sense of community and mutual support that transcends racial and cultural divides. 

In conclusion, while navigating Newhouse as a student of color can pose significant challenges, it is possible to thrive by implementing these strategic approaches, fostering relationships and advocating for equity and inclusion. It is also important to remember and know that you belong, to take up space and that you can succeed beyond measure. By establishing a strong support network, engaging with the broader community and building meaningful relationships, students of color can not only succeed academically but also contribute to creating more inclusive and equitable educational environments for all. 

Jalyss Agosto is a graduate student in the broadcast and digital journalism program at the Newhouse School.