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These Ten Months

By Trinna Leong ’12

I came to the J-school with no background in journalism at all. Switching careers, this was very intimidating for me. More so when I arrived at the school to meet amazing colleagues who have some knowledge or experience in the field.

It wasn’t easy, as I’m sure countless testimonies from other J-schoolers can attest to. I had never been to New York. My impression of the city and the reporting world extended to what I saw in movies and television. Quitting a stable job, packing up an entire life into two suitcases, and boarding a 24-hour flight halfway across the world sounds a lot for a 25-year old. But that’s exactly what I did and I don’t have any regrets at all.

These 10 months have been a struggle. Not just a struggle to gain new skills and master them at an incredible speed – but also a struggle of confidence, strength and courage.

There were days when I refused to get out of bed, feeling completely demotivated and deflated, unable to get to work. Those were the days when I lost faith in myself. I could not see the light at the end of the tunnel. I did not know how to approach a story or know how to pitch the right story that my professors would be happy with.

And every single time, at my lowest points, I told myself: “Trinna, you’ve been through worse. This is hard but it’s nothing compared to what you have faced.”

Those were the words I used for self-reassurance. I watched my younger brother fall sick and passed away all in the span of 10 days. Going through that sort of hell and bouncing back was difficult. My brother never had the chance to fulfill his ambitions. I realized that life is just way too short to be wasted on "What ifs?" So I decided to chase after my passion, not just for my sake, but for all those who never had the opportunity. It became the best decision I ever made.

In the course of the year, I met some amazing professors. My reporting and writing class professors became my constant pillar of support. Even in moments when I doubted myself and felt that I was not good enough to write a particular story or apply for internships, they were the ones who pushed me and told me to go for it.

And it really does help to have people around who kept believing in you.

I know that I’m just a nobody from Malaysia with big dreams. At the end of the day, that’s who I am.

But the fact that the J-school saw something in me and gave me the opportunity to be a student here (although we all slave during the school year and then collapse from emotional and physical breakdowns), it means a lot to me.

Journalism is what I want to do with my life.

The school is just a preparation for more challenging years to come and I’m glad the program is rigorous. Without it, we wouldn’t have the chance to grow not just as journalists but as individuals.

To quote my professor, Dale Maharidge on my first RW1 class.

“To be a first class journalist, you must first be a first class human being.”

Posted by: Current StudentCurrent Student April 2012

One Comment

  1. Kin-Yong Chin
    Posted 07.29.12 at 3:29 am | Permalink

    I remember Prof. Richard Baker when he came to University Science Malaysia in the state of Penang in Malaysia to teach Journalism in the School of Humanities, Mass Communications programme.

    I was not a Journalism major, but a Broadcasting one. There was, however, a course called Advanced Reporting and Writing that all students had to take. Some of the classes were conducted by Prof. Baker.

    The moment he stepped into class, we knew this was a man who teaches through experience. As students, we held on to every word that he spoke. The Journalism students had to put out a weekly campus newspaper, and his post-mortem comments was awaited with bated breath after each issue.

    After one of his classes, he announced that Mrs Baker and he would like the company of all students at his residence for a end-of-semester party, and no one is exempted. I got to talk to Prof. Baker for some time at the party, and it was gratifying that even though he does not know much about me like he did of his Journalism students, he treated me no differently by inquiring about my progress and post-graduation plans.

    It has been a good 40 plus years since then, but Prof. Baker remains very much in my memory as one of those who had an influence in what I am today.

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