Student Testimonials 

University of Massachusetts Amherst and the High School of Commerce students reflect on what they have learned in the duration of their Community Journalism Course — the classroom experience has helped students continue in the work and apply it to other departments of their life.  

 Morgan Hughes, Class of 2019  (INSERT TEXT HERE)

Morgan Hughes, Class of 2019

(INSERT TEXT HERE)

 Brian Becilacqua, Class of 2016  I owe all of the success and happiness I’ve experienced as a young professional to Nick McBride and my time spent working with young people in Springfield through his courses and projects. I was a fourth semester student searching for a path. I enrolled in his Community Journalism course at UMass which helped me realize what really mattered.  Mentoring young people in the city led me to a sense a purpose. I quickly realized that this was where I wanted to tell stories. I ultimately spent the remainder of my time at UMass assisting McBride’s cohort of high school and college students. As graduation approached, I knew I needed stay involved. I joined New England Public Radio’s Media Lab team and endeavored to carry the lessons I learned to a larger platform.  If you’re searching for a chance to make a difference, if you’re searching for underrepresented voices, if you’re searching for unique, genuine, heartfelt work, check out Nick McBride’s Community Journalism class, NEPR’s Media Lab, and the stories from Springfield and Holyoke they share.

Brian Becilacqua, Class of 2016

I owe all of the success and happiness I’ve experienced as a young professional to Nick McBride and my time spent working with young people in Springfield through his courses and projects. I was a fourth semester student searching for a path. I enrolled in his Community Journalism course at UMass which helped me realize what really mattered.

Mentoring young people in the city led me to a sense a purpose. I quickly realized that this was where I wanted to tell stories. I ultimately spent the remainder of my time at UMass assisting McBride’s cohort of high school and college students. As graduation approached, I knew I needed stay involved. I joined New England Public Radio’s Media Lab team and endeavored to carry the lessons I learned to a larger platform.

If you’re searching for a chance to make a difference, if you’re searching for underrepresented voices, if you’re searching for unique, genuine, heartfelt work, check out Nick McBride’s Community Journalism class, NEPR’s Media Lab, and the stories from Springfield and Holyoke they share.

 Allyson Morin, Class of 2018  (INSERT TEXT HERE)

Allyson Morin, Class of 2018

(INSERT TEXT HERE)

 Michaela Chesin, Class of 2020  I entered McBride’s Community Journalism class in the Fall of my sophomore year. At that point, it was very difficult to decipher why exactly I did what I did. What were all the stories for the student paper adding up to? Why exactly did I spend the hours memorizing AP style or understanding the nuances of becoming a “professional journalist?” What was the reasoning behind the work?  Community Journalism shakes up the traditional academic model which illuminates questions you never knew you had. Every class I walked away from the High School of Commerce with valuable lessons about the strong forces media play in the lives of young people, the false narratives that can infiltrate news systems and the stories that are often not told but truly deserve to be.  For me, the course is a foundation of work that moves every party forward to teach and learn to a higher capacity with more rigorous thought and understanding.  The work in Springfield helped me realize that journalism is much more than words to get a story out there. It’s understanding complex systems that hurt complex people. It’s listening and learning from the voices that need to be heard and shed light within a community of people.  I am so thankful for my experiences in the Community Journalism course and the meaning I was able to take from those experiences. I carry them with me.

Michaela Chesin, Class of 2020

I entered McBride’s Community Journalism class in the Fall of my sophomore year. At that point, it was very difficult to decipher why exactly I did what I did. What were all the stories for the student paper adding up to? Why exactly did I spend the hours memorizing AP style or understanding the nuances of becoming a “professional journalist?” What was the reasoning behind the work?

Community Journalism shakes up the traditional academic model which illuminates questions you never knew you had. Every class I walked away from the High School of Commerce with valuable lessons about the strong forces media play in the lives of young people, the false narratives that can infiltrate news systems and the stories that are often not told but truly deserve to be.

For me, the course is a foundation of work that moves every party forward to teach and learn to a higher capacity with more rigorous thought and understanding.

The work in Springfield helped me realize that journalism is much more than words to get a story out there. It’s understanding complex systems that hurt complex people. It’s listening and learning from the voices that need to be heard and shed light within a community of people.

I am so thankful for my experiences in the Community Journalism course and the meaning I was able to take from those experiences. I carry them with me.

 Ethan Bakuli, Class of 2019   (INSERT TEXT HERE)

Ethan Bakuli, Class of 2019 

(INSERT TEXT HERE)

 William Keve , Class of 2018  Community journalism was a class I looked forward to each week because I knew that there was never going to be a day that wasted my time or put a syllabus before a student. The combination of theory and practice in this class is unmatched in any other journalism course. That is one of many reasons so many students retake community journalism over and over again. If I could run the world, Community Journalism would be mandatory for all journalism students at some point in their time at UMass. I don’t know how you can get the full experience of the department without taking it.  McBride’s commitment to student agency went beyond just the five college students. The students from the High School of Commerce could also reach any level of independence they wanted in the class, and some of them accomplished that through their reporting projects and personal narratives. As I worked with three Commerce students on a weekly basis, they were co-directors, writers, and reporters alongside me.    My favorite moment from the class was working on a video project about a recent school walkout in protest of school shootings. Commerce students were understandably apprehensive to talk on camera about this, and anxious about operating the camera and conducting the interviews. But with some encouragement, we started shooting with Commerce students completely at the wheel. My friends and I from UMass just sat back and watched at one point. The students did a fantastic job, and it was one of the best stories I’ve seen produced from the class. It reminded me of my own high school journalism class, which helped spark my interested in reporting.  I hope the community journalism program keeps succeeding and takes the risks it needs to in order to grow even stronger. I hope it’s more thoroughly embraced by the department and the university, and I would love to see more than one trip per week to Springfield, even if the extra trips were voluntary for students. I know that many of them would show up.

William Keve , Class of 2018

Community journalism was a class I looked forward to each week because I knew that there was never going to be a day that wasted my time or put a syllabus before a student. The combination of theory and practice in this class is unmatched in any other journalism course. That is one of many reasons so many students retake community journalism over and over again. If I could run the world, Community Journalism would be mandatory for all journalism students at some point in their time at UMass. I don’t know how you can get the full experience of the department without taking it.

McBride’s commitment to student agency went beyond just the five college students. The students from the High School of Commerce could also reach any level of independence they wanted in the class, and some of them accomplished that through their reporting projects and personal narratives. As I worked with three Commerce students on a weekly basis, they were co-directors, writers, and reporters alongside me. 

 My favorite moment from the class was working on a video project about a recent school walkout in protest of school shootings. Commerce students were understandably apprehensive to talk on camera about this, and anxious about operating the camera and conducting the interviews. But with some encouragement, we started shooting with Commerce students completely at the wheel. My friends and I from UMass just sat back and watched at one point. The students did a fantastic job, and it was one of the best stories I’ve seen produced from the class. It reminded me of my own high school journalism class, which helped spark my interested in reporting.

I hope the community journalism program keeps succeeding and takes the risks it needs to in order to grow even stronger. I hope it’s more thoroughly embraced by the department and the university, and I would love to see more than one trip per week to Springfield, even if the extra trips were voluntary for students. I know that many of them would show up.